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Friday, February 24, 2017

Renshaw Runs and Starc Smashes to Start Series on Par

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Day One in Pune probably went as well as could have been expected for Australia, and if you had asked most people at the start of the day would they have accepted a score line of 9/256 at stumps, they would have said yes. A number of talking points arose.

  1. Allan Border savaging Matthew Renshaw for retiring ‘ill’. It was harsh, and straight out of the old boys textbook, and certainly tough on Shaun Marsh who had to rush out to bat 15 minutes before lunch. But really, hard cheese. In this day of over burdening the ‘duty of care’ in the workplace, what did it matter? Border’s point was valid, but if Renshaw had been dismissed as a result of staying at the wicket, how would that have helped Australia’s cause? Move on.
  2. Renshaw’s brilliant knock. For all the talk before the series that he should not play, he proved to be the rock. I thought he was magnificent, and it took an unplayable ball to get him out too. In completely foreign conditions, he played as good an innings as you could wish to see. It wasn’t a century, but it was great viewing. Well played young man.
  3. The top order. Once again Dave Warner had done the hard work, and then hung his bat out to dry to play on. He’ll be dirty. Shaun Marsh got tangled up and bobbled the ball to leg slip. The jury is still out on his effectiveness. Peter Handscomb was dismissed in exactly the fashion that we all knew he would over there, LBW on the back foot. He looked good, but with his technique you would put money on him being dismissed in that fashion in every innings he plays in India. Then Steve Smith threw his wicket away, having grafted for over 90 deliveries. It was the same thing he did in Sri Lanka. Both he and Warner need to stop these types of dismissals repeating time and again if Australia is to be any chance on the sub-continent.
  4. Mitch Marsh and Matthew Wade. Both looked as bad as their recent form suggests. All at sea, with no real idea how to stop the onslaught that was coming at them. The fact that they have been retained in this team for so long now for no result means that they are stuck. Both are free flowing batsmen in other forms of the game, which suggests that they need to play their natural game in order to score runs. However, because there is now so much pressure on their positions in the team, if they get dismissed playing that way, they will be lambasted and the pressure intensifies even more. To be honest, I have no brief for either of them, but the only way for them to succeed now is to show positive intent at the crease against this attack on this wicket. Better to go down fighting than with a whimper. In the second innings they need to attack, get down the wicket, hit the ball hard, because if they bat like they did yesterday again, they will go just as meekly.
  5. Mitch Starc is the perfect example. There is no pressure on Starc to make runs because he is our opening bowler, so he can play the way he does best, with aggressive intent. When it comes off, like yesterday, he is applauded. When he fails, well, he’s just there for his bowling anyway. Marsh and Wade probably need to go in this direction if they are to save their careers and help Australia fight back.
  6. The pitch. When Ravi Shastri says at the toss “I have never seen a pitch like this in India” you know there is something wrong. Ashwin opened the bowling, and the other spinners weren’t far behind. Despite this, it was Umesh Yadav that finished with the best figures. It looks bad, but the positives are that it won’t get any better.
  7. Ashwin and Jadeja bowled well, but only finished with two wickets each. Australia showed they could be played, if you used your feet to go right forward or right back, and played straight, as Warner did against Ashwin at his most dangerous.
Everyone knew this was going to be Everest for Australia. Today will give a better indication of what the series holds. The batsmen showed promise without delivering the 400 the team needed as a first innings score. Now the bowlers must show they can restrict the Indian batting while getting the dismissals required to get through to the tail. Another fascinating day awaits.

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