Pat Cummins was in the thick of the action on day one. Picture: Sarah Reed
Pat Cummins was in the thick of the action on day one. Picture: Sarah Reed

Australia dominates as new dawn rises

Finally a ball was bowled and a host of pre-match questions received at least temporary answers on a Test day won by Australia.

A last ball run-out of India's lone resistance Cheteshwar Pujara for a stoic 123, by a tiring Pat Cummins, was an exclamation point on a great day for the home team.

The war of words tossed around in the lead-up never settled on a proper answer as to not only how Australia would play, but whether India could cope with it.

Would Tim Paine's team be nice or not? Would they play the "Australian way"? That in itself had no clear definition. It was aggressive, but not vocally, only physically. Body language and all that.

The skipper said "being nice" never came in to it, even though the PR offensive post the South African scandal and the scathing cultural review suggested a friendlier approach to a tough game was the preferred way forward.

As the sun set on the Adelaide Oval and the scoreboard had India 9-250 the red Kookaburra had done most of the talking anyway.

There were a few bold stares from the brilliant Aussie bowlers as well as some under-the-breath-mutterings. Mitch Starc let slashing Indian keeper Rishabh Pant know he wasn't long for the sheds too.

"Keep blazing away, champ," Starc said before Pant was out for a flashy 25.

But it was the bowler's efforts, not words, which gave renewed hope to a cause so many thought was lost.

 

Usman Khawaja removed Virat Kohli with the early contender for catch of the summer. Picture: AP
Usman Khawaja removed Virat Kohli with the early contender for catch of the summer. Picture: AP

There was no muzzle on home side, not even after captain Tim Paine lost his third straight toss and his men were sent in to field on a scorcher.

It could have been cause for plenty of groans with the mercury headed towards the high 30s, the wicket looking a bit flat and the Indian batting line-up boasting the best in the world.

Virat Kohli had three hundreds in his last four digs in Adelaide and would take the pitch with him if he could.

But Paine and coach Justin Langer had pointed to how fresh their frontline bowlers were, the same attack which looked, on paper at least, the lynchpin of a side boasting two opening batters who share only two completed Tests between them.

Mitch Starc was the only fast bowler who went to the United Arab Emirates in October, and he'd played in just a lone T20 since.

Josh Hazlewood, who so many pundits picked to take more wickets than anyone this series, had all but been wrapped in cotton wool since Cape Town. Pat Cummins much the same.

So they let rip, with conditions against them, and set the new Australia on a course back towards the sort of side they had been before the most unsettling time in the game since World Series cricket.

Their plans were near perfect, execution close to it to. The catching matched the bowling standards, and with effort and enthusiasm wickets tumbled.

The Indian openers went quickly, with only 15 runs on the board, which brought Kohli to the crease.

He's a man for any situation, and in sweet touch. A video of his net session on Tuesday had the best in the world oohing and ahhing at the "sweet sound" the ball made off his blade.

But he's human too, and was brought undone by both a well-executed plan to get him driving, his own impetuousness, and a brilliant Usman Khawaja catch.

The Indians were six down by tea. The bowling had been good, but the batting "horrendous" according to former English captain Michael Vaughan who told Fox Cricket he couldn't believe what he was seeing.

Indian number three Pujara was the only outlier. He resisted all day with his fighting century, batting as the pitch demanded. But his partners didn't last long.

 

Mitchell Starc had a few light-hearted words for the India batsmen. Picture: AAP
Mitchell Starc had a few light-hearted words for the India batsmen. Picture: AAP

 

Credit did have to go to the attack, including Nathan Lyon, who on a first day pitch in Adelaide had no right to cause as much trouble as he did.

Hazlewood led the way, and Lyon was right behind him, spinning and bouncing the ball so well the Indian's had to fight their hardest to keep him out.

At least three times he had dropped catches, chances that, while difficult, should have been taken.

He did the bulk of the bowling, as he should in a four-man attack. Paine was with him too, inventing fields to suit, as unconventional as they were fluid. He moved his men a lot, especially late in the day, when the stonewalling by the batsmen was as its best.

If there was any sledging, no-one heard it. It was a bat versus ball battle, against the elements too, just the way it should be.

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News Corp Australia


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