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India bowled out for 36, Australia win Adelaide Test by 8 wickets

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India will be without their regular captain Virat Kohli (second from right), as Ajinkya Rahane (extreme right) will take over the leadership responsibilities

In what turned out to be one of the most remarkable days of Test cricket, Australia inflicted an eight-wicket defeat on the Indian cricket team in a dramatic turnaround of fortunes at the Adelaide Oval. Behind mostly in the game until the third and eventual afternoon of the match, Australia bowled out India for their lowest-ever total of 36 in the longest format of the sport to ensure that they keep an upper hand in the four-match series with a 1-0 lead. 

Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins led India’s demolition on Saturday afternoon in Adelaide with the pink kookaburra ball, not even requiring the natural aid of evening breeze and floodlights to produce a stunning spell of seam bowling aided with slight amount of swing to hand India the ignominy of their lowest-ever Test score. 

It all began with India losing their nightwatchman Jasprit Bumrah, who had received heavy praise for his resolute defence on the second day evening when the visiting side lost their opening batsman Prithvi Shaw (4) for cheap yet again. India’s specialist No 3 Cheteshwar Pujara was out for an eight-ball duck to Cummins, who by then had snaffled three wickets to spark a collapse in the Indian ranks. 

This was when Mitchell Starc was taken off the attack and Hazlewood was brought in. The right-arm pacer, known for his probing line and lengths around the off-stump line, produced one of his best bowling performances to return with the figures of 5-3-8-5 as Australia ran riot in the visiting team camp.

Hazlewood said after the match:

“I think it was pretty similar to maybe Leeds looking back to the Ashes when we bowled them out for 60. It didn’t change a great deal from the first innings, we just bowled a touch fuller and maybe a touch straighter. But I thought Cummo [Pat Cummins] set the scene beautifully and I just followed suit. Everything got nicked and everything went to hand, so just one of those days.”

There was nothing wrong with the pitch—it was just poor selection of strokes and the inability to deal with the ball angling into the many right-handed batsmen who are there in the Indian team. Both Cummins and Hazlewood were on the mark as far as the line and length were concerned, giving absolutely no room to batsmen who like to drive, cut and pull on the batting-friendly tracks which India usually produces for international matches. 

Pujara was not the only Indian batsman to fall for a duck; Ajinkya Rahane and Ravichandran Ashwin were to follow the trait later in the innings but not before some questionable shot selection from the Indian captain Virat Kohli. The Indian batting mainstay played two strokes in the air—the first beat the man at the gully but the second one did not—and India were soon 19/6 in their second innings. It was Cummins who had done the damage so far, and Hazlewood soon took over for running through the remaining Indian batsmen in a spectacular fashion. 

None of the Indian batsmen could get into double digits, with opener Mayank Agarwal being the top-scorer with 9 runs. Hazlewood completed his 200 wickets in Test cricket in the process, while the world’s best fast bowler Cummins returned with the figures of 10.2-4-21-4. 

The Indian cricket team also suffered some damage in form of an injury to Mohammed Shami, who was hit on the right hand with which he bowls, while he was batting as the visitors were trying to prevent the ignominy of recording the lowest-ever total in Test match cricket. 

It was a spectacular change in fortunes for both the teams who had played intense cricket for the first two days of the match, with the visiting Indian team ending the second day with an overall lead of 62 runs and being in the driver’s seat. India had taken a lead of 53 runs in the first innings but they had bowled out Australia for 191 in reply to their first innings total of 244. The off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin was the pick among the bowlers with 4/55 whereas right arm pacer Umesh Yadav claimed 3 wickets. 

“We have played enough cricket to understand what needs to be done at different stages of a Test match, and it is just lack of execution. It is just a lack of executing a plan that is apt for the situation, and it is to move the game. Day three is called moving day and you drive home the advantage. Lead of 62 runs with nine wickets in hand, should have definitely put in a better batting performance. I don’t think any mental fatigue was involved, it was only the first Test of the series,”

said Kohli. 

The second Test match of the series will start on December 26, the Boxing Day, at the famous Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) with India without their regular captain Virat Kohli who is heading home to be with his family for the birth of his first child. In the absence of Kohli, senior cricketer and vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane will be stepping in as the stand-in leader of a team which has a lot to answer after monumental thrashing in the first match of the series.