If the first day of a Test is any indication, the Chennai wicket will support the spinners. But there’s no discounting the fact that with an additional yard of pace could also make reverse swing a proposition that could oscillate the match in favour of Australia. The first day has thrown up some interesting questions.
By the tenth over of the day, Ravichandran Ashwin showed that the Chennai pitch suited his brand of spin bowling. Extracting some turn and bounce, he had David Warner in two minds and forced an edge to Virender Sehwag, who fluffed the easiest of chances. A few balls later he suffered yet again when Mahendra Singh Dhoni was unable to gather a difficult ball and effect a stumping. By the end of the day, his persistence had paid off and he had six of the seven wickets that fell on Day One of the Test. He should have had Michael Clarke as well, but umpire Kumar Dharmasena turned down a clear bat-pad catch.
The rest of the bowling attack looked very mediocre in the initial stages. Harbhajan Singh, playing in his 100th Test match, was brought in as first change. He failed to trouble the batsman for most parts of his spell and looked a pale shadow of the bowler he once was. A similar outing in the second innings could mean the end of his Test career.
Ishant Sharma and Bhuvneshwar Kumar were unable to extract anything from the pitch and gave away too many runs with the new ball. Their return in the later stages of the day showed that reverse swing could be a factor in the game as the Test Match progresses and it might just be in favour of the Australians.
The biggest shocker of the morning was the exclusion of Pragyan Ojha. Ravindra Jadeja was selected in his place. This sent out a clear message that Dhoni was not confident that the batting lineup was deep enough to take on the Australian quicks. Ravindra Jadeja did not start off very well, but settled down in the later sessions of the day. However, his bowling did not threaten the Australian batsmen. In hindsight, picking Ojha instead of bowing down to sentiment and playing Harbhajan Singh, would probably have troubled the Australians more.
Past Test matches have shown a worrying trend. There has always been one bowler or batsman who has shouldered most of the responsibility and got most of the wickets, while the others have not contributed at all. In this match too, one shudders to think of the consequences, if Ashwin had not been on top of his game.
The first day made for some engaging cricket. The series is well set up.
(Dhananjay Devasper is an "IT guy" by profession and a sports fanatic at heart. He has an unbridled passion for sports and Indian achievements in sport. Extremely opinionated, he attempts offering perspectives around sports which are simple to understand and easy to relate with)
First Published: February 23, 2013, 10:28 am