Australia clinched a remarkable victory as they picked eight Indian wickets in the evening session on Day Five © Getty Images
Australia clinched a remarkable victory as they picked eight Indian wickets in the evening session on Day Five © Getty Images

After a tremendous five days of cricket, Australia beat India by 48 runs in  the first Test at the Adelaide Oval in a match that saw six  tons, five half-centuries, and a ten-wicket haul, apart from some emotional moments. Shiamak Unwalla looks back at the highlights of perhaps one of the most absorbing Tests of the year.

Six centuries and a 99: David Warner, who was one of the players most affected by Phillip Hughes’ death, started the match with a tremendous 145. He set the tone for what followed throughout the game with a brisk innings that put the Indian bowlers completely on the back foot. His knock was instrumental in setting the platform upon which the other Australian players built the innings.

Michael Clarke joked at the presentation ceremony after the match that the world was tired of seeing him cry while talking about Hughes; He paid rich tribute to his mate when he came in to bat in the first innings. He had to retire hurt on 60 due to his bad back, but came back on Day Two to complete an emotional and memorable ton. His 128 came off only 163 deliveries.

Steven Smith is fast establishing himself as the rock of Australia’s middle-order. In the first innings, he came in to bat after Clarke retired hurt, and played beautifully. He knocked the ball around and fed Warner the strike early on and put the foot on the accelerator when needed. His 231-ball 162 not out was the highest score of the match.

Virat Kohli was coming off a nightmarish England series where he scored 134 runs in five Tests. Leading India for the very first time in Tests, Kohli was under immense pressure to perform. He responded like a true champion when he scored 115 off 184 deliveries to hold the innings together. He was out late on Day Three, and it was his dismissal that completely turned the innings around for India.

Virat Kohli scored his seventh ton the first innings © Getty Images
Virat Kohli scored his seventh ton the first innings © Getty Images

Warner followed up his first innings century with another ton in the second innings. Bowled off a no-ball on 63, dropped on 89, and dubiously given not-out in between, the 102-run knock was certainly not as good as his first innings effort. But his innings set up a big total for Australia.

Murali Vijay made a solid 53 in the first innings, but it was his knock on the final day that stood out. He weathered the new ball, survived a particularly probing spell from Nathan Lyon, and seemed set to see India through to victory in partnership with Kohli before suffering an inexplicable bout of the “nervous 90s.” His dismissal for 99 proved to be the start of the death knell for India, as Australia clawed their way back into the match after that.

Kohli scored his second century — and arguably the best one — of the match when he scored 141 from 175 deliveries on a crumbling fifth-day track. He combated Lyon’s spin and Mitchell Johnson’s pace with equal ease, and led India to within 60 runs of a victory before holing out in the deep. His dismissal turned out to be the turning point of the game as India collapsed after he got out.

Nathan Lyon spins India out: Lyon bowled the spell of his life to go from being a groundsman at the Adelaide Oval to being the Man of the Match at the same ground. Lyon was by far the bowler of the match, and dominated the Indian batsmen in both innings. His spell of five of 134 ensured that India were unable to take the crucial first-innings lead, while his fourth-innings seven for 152 brought Australia back from the dead. Lyon dismissed Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Wriddhiman Saha, and Ishant Sharma in both innings, and proved that India’s fabled skill against spin was a thing of the past.

The bouncer that stopped the match: The first ball that Kohli faced in India’s first innings was a quick and short ball from Mitchell Johnson. It rapped Kohli on the helmet, and stunned him. In the wake of Hughes’ demise, this moment proved to be particularly poignant. While Kohli himself snapped out of it and was ready to resume, almost the entire Australian team came up to him and checked to see if he was alright. Johnson looked particularly shaken up, and Clarke had to go up to him to pacify him. The entire match was held up for a couple of minutes while everyone regained their composure.

Virat Kohli was hit on the head off the first ball he faced in the first innings © Getty Images
Virat Kohli was hit on the head off the first ball he faced in the first innings © Getty Images

On-field spats: If the bouncer that rapped Kohli on the helmet was a moment that brought out a hitherto unseen side of India-Australia cricket, then the spats that followed a day later reminded one and all that this was still competitive, aggressive Test cricket being played. Varun Aaron, David Warner, and Shikhar Dhawan got into a bit of a spat before Kohli came in to calm things down. However, later in the day it was Kohli who turned aggressor when Steven Smith and Rohit Sharma had a run-in.

63, 63, 63: In a match played very much under the shadow of Hughes’ death, Warner was the first batsman to find himself on a score of 63 — in the first innings of the match. He immediately paid tribute to Hughes, while the spectators applauded. Later on the same day, Smith too reached the score, and he too looked at the heavens and thought of Hughes. Warner then found himself on the score in the second innings as well, and once again paid tribute.

Two sessions of magical cricket: Whoever thinks Test cricket is dead need only have watched Day Five of the match. While India lost a couple of wickets in the first session, they also scored 105 to even things out. However, the real grandeur of the game came to the fore in in the post-lunch, and post-tea session. Vijay and Kohli put their heads together in the second session of the day to score exactly 100 runs in the second session. India did not lose a wicket, and came within 159 runs of an outstanding victory. The final session began with all four results very much a possibility. Vijay was batting fluently till he reached 99, when nerves got the better of him and he was out leg-before. That proved to be just the start, as Ajinkya Rahane was dismissed five balls later. Rohit Sharma looked completely out of sorts as well, while Wriddhiman Saha promised a lot with a few big hits before getting carried away. When Kohli played a pull shot to the deep and was caught, India were 60 runs away, but ended up losing an engaging match by 48 runs. The final two sessions of the day were absolutely absorbing, one dominated by the bat, and the other showing a remarkable resurgence with the ball.

(Shiamak Unwalla, a reporter with CricketCountry, is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek and cricket fanatic. You can follow him on Twitter @ShiamakUnwalla)