Boxing Day Test: Is this Australian side Test standard?

Updated: Dec 29, 2018, 08:34 IST | Gaurav Joshi

Australia's batting in the first innings of the third Test left a lot to be desired and a total of 151 underlines vulnerability against rampaging Indians

Boxing Day Test: Is this Australian side Test standard?
Australia's Aaron Finch walks back after being dismissed by India pacer Ishant Sharma on Day Three of the third Test at Melbourne Cricket Ground yesterday. Pic/Getty Images

A couple of days ago, Australia spinner-turned-commentator Kerry O'Keeffe made a mockery of Indian domestic cricket's standards. He took a lighthearted swipe at debutant opener Mayank Agarwal, suggesting he scored his maiden first-class triple century against the Railways' "canteen staff".

By the end of the third day's play yesterday, O'Keeffe was forced to eat humble pie after the Australian batting folded meekly to be all out for 151. After observing Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli grind the Australian bowlers by virtue of disciplined batting, the hosts' top-order took a different approach and came off second best.

There were some overzealous shots, poor technique as well as horrific decision-making while batting. On a wicket that had no carry, it was always going to be difficult for a bowler to get batsmen caught behind the wicket.

So, the requirement of the day was stump-to-stump lines and a tight leg-side field. Aaron Finch fell for the trap by spooning a catch to short midwicket. Marcus Harris should have known that if the likes of Kohli and Pujara had shelved the hook or the pull until late in their innings, it was the pitch that caused them to avoid putting away the short ball over square leg.

The inconsistent bounce, as well as Jasprit Bumrah's pace, got the better of Harris. Usman Khawaja might have sought an answer by handling the spinner out of the rough via a reverse sweep, but he still doesn't get anywhere close to the pitch of the ball while trying to defend off the front foot.

He was a culprit of poor technique. Shaun Marsh was out-thought by Bumrah's slower ball. Travis Head continues to show promise, but trying to play through midwicket against a reverse swinging ball is asking for trouble. Then there is Mitchell Marsh, the man mountain who bats like his feet are stuck in concrete.

The ball from Ravindra Jadeja was a simple leg-stump, half-volley and all Mitchell had to do was to take a short stride to work it through the on-side. Instead, he stood still and pushed the bat across the line to be caught at slip. Such collapses occur in cricket, but not as frequently as the Australians would have liked. It is an inexperienced line-up, but the batting standards certainly not Test class.

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