Pat Cummins is ready to lead the bowling attack in his second home Ashes series. Image: cricket.com.au

The Inner Sanctum has taken an in-depth look at the opening test between Australia and India.


The extremely modest figure had Australian fans in raptures, Indians in mourning and historians ready to etch a fresh and very much unwanted entry into the annals of test cricket.  

Disbelief was the overarching sentiment as the Australians delivered one of the most devastating displays of bowling we’re likely to ever see.

Another added bonus for Aussie cricket fans was the fact that the Adelaide Oval had spectators on hand to witness the carnage in person, and boy do they have a story to tell. 

In a match that seemed stacked in India’s favour heading into a pivotal day three, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazelwood combined to turn the entire test match on its head. It was the type of cricket that is usually reserved for the Playstation when you’re playing a younger sibling who doesn’t grasp which buttons do what.

Let’s take a look at the moments that mattered in the Australia vs India first test recap.

It was the type of cricket that is usually reserved for the Playstation when you’re playing a younger sibling who doesn’t grasp which buttons do what

Pink ball creates chances

Australia took 20 wickets. India 12, but both teams had no issues creating chances throughout this test, but seizing on those opportunities is where the Aussies excelled.

The distinguishing factor between the sides was that India dropped six chances, whereas the edges and uncontrolled shots drawn by Australia landed between, in front of and around fielders. What that shows is that while there were an average of four wickets a session, the contest was more bowler dominated showing why the Adelaide test has quickly become box-office viewing. 

Meanwhile, those fielding failures, which was also pertinent in the white ball fixtures, must be addressed before Boxing Day for India or they risk the series slipping through their fingers. Both Tim Paine and Marnus Labuschagne added 47 from when they were first dropped, a 140 first innings deficit looks far more difficult to overcome than a 53 run deficit. 

Break the wall, break India? 

Cheteshwar Pujara is one of the world’s most polarising cricketers.

In the first innings he again had traditionalists enchanted and T20 fans switching off in boredom before he was removed for a 160-ball 43. He was then dismissed for zero when India needed a crease-occupier, emphasising his importance to them in the ensuing fixtures.

With only Kohli – absent for the rest of the series due to the impending birth of his child – passing fifty in India’s two innings, he’ll likely need to shoulder much of the load, despite being in modest form since the last series between the nations.

His nagging defence and seemingly endless patience make it crucial Australia get him early in his innings. For an Indian team that fell apart so cheaply in the opening test, Pujara’s ability to cherish his wicket will need to be emulated by the remainder of the team.

Aussies’ strong starts 

If spectators took heed to suggestions to attend the contest after work, they would have missed the climax each day. That’s because from an entertainment standpoint, the Aussie bowlers didn’t build the suspense; they entertained from the start.

If day three was a Hollywood production it was far more Fast and the Furious than Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman.

As well as the eight-wicket first session on day three, Australia picked up Prithvi Shaw for a second-ball duck on day one – and Mayank Agarwal soon after – and then four wickets within the first five overs of day two. That shows that while session three is seen as the prime time to bowl, Australia’s bowlers’ immediate pressure to start each day prevented India from taking full advantage of the sunlight, with the run-rate under two at tea on day one.

If day three was a Hollywood production it was far more Fast and the Furious than Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman

With just 4 wickets – one of which was a runout – falling for India across their innings’ in the night sessions, and the run rate for both teams advancing considerably, the black sky was shown to be no unlucky blue moon for the batting team.

Instead, the evenness of the contest between bat and ball was consistent throughout, so due recognition should be given to curators, ground staff, and the scrutinised pink kookaburra manufacturers. 

Will Ravi Ashwin be a factor this series?  

Ashwin has had well-documented struggles away from India, especially in Australia, but his performance in the opening test will give the veteran plenty of confidence going forward this series.

Having toured three times with a strike-rate of 86 and an average of 43, four first innings wickets would fill the 34-year-old veteran with confidence. Looked potent as he extracted overspin and lateral movement, something which often separates Nathan Lyon from touring tweakers. His late second innings wicket of Marnus Labuschagne means he’ll take a psychological edge over each of Australia’s middle-order batsmen into Melbourne. 

Will Australia tinker with their squad ahead of Boxing Day?

David Warner’s fitness would appear the only variable for the Australians.

That would give Australia the conundrum of whether to drop Matthew Wade altogether, or down to his regular number six position which would dislodge Cameron Green. The quality overs Green offers would likely see him retain his place given the recently lifeless MCG pitches. While Victorians would love to see local Will Pucovski handed a fairytale Boxing Day debut, that seems unlikely, especially after Burns’ fifty. 

India have more questions. Shubman Gill seems likely for a test debut to replace skipper Virat Kohli. Mohammed Shami may also be unavailable after copping a nasty blow from a Patrick Cummins bouncer, and with Ishant Sharma unavailable, the like-for-like replacement options are uncapped duo Navdeep Saini and Mohammed Siraj.

The Indians could instead opt for a second spinner – Ravi Jadeja, fitness pending, which would strengthen their batting order, or Kuldeep Yadav, or could specialist keeper Wriddhiman Saha, having dropped two catches and failed with the bat, be left out in favour of danger-man Rishabh Pant? 

One thing is for certain – the Indian’s main concern heading into Boxing Day is restoring national pride after one of the most embarrassing collapses of all-time.

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