Brisbane: The last time India won a Test match in Australia was back in 2008 at Perth. The build up to the match was, in a way, very similar to the Test that got underway in Brisbane yesterday. All talk was about the pace of the WACA pitch, quickness of Shaun Tait and how Indian batsmen will be bounced out. Four days later India had won the Test.
Mitchell Starc. Pic/AFP
Similarly, in the past couple of days, many felt the Indian batsmen were in for a torrid time against the express pace of Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazelwood on the bouncy Gabba pitch. But as it had happened in Perth six years ago, the Australian pacers failed to bowl the right lengths and later ran out of ideas as India dominated the day.
The first blemish was that too many balls whizzed over the stumps in the first 20 overs of the day as Australia allowed the India batsmen to settle. Secondly, the decision to give the new ball to debutant Hazelwood over Starc was a surprise given the left-hander's ability to swing the new ball. If the last couple of days in the nets were an indicator, Australia had made a huge blunder. Australia missed the chance and Starc never settled.
When the time came to try the short ball theory, the line was over the off stump line rather than leg stump. Furthermore, not a single ball was bowled from around the wicket to cramp the batsmen from Johnson or Starc. After lunch, bizarrely, Australia opened the bowling with two of the least threatening bowlers in Mitchell Marsh and Starc. Even Nathan Lyon persisted with a line around the stumps looking for a catch down leg side rather than trying to deceive the batsmen through the air and bowling an attacking line outside the off stump.
By the time the 55th over was completed, India had moved on to 171 for three and the day still in the balance. But by that time, the heat had drained the ideas out of the Australian minds and even if a new plan emerged, Steven Smith didn't have the personnel. It was time to pay for their lack of discipline and creativity as India piled on 140 for one in the next 28 overs to take the box seat.