Varun Aaron’s pace remains an encouraging aspect of his play, but he needs to find control © Getty Images (File Photo)
Varun Aaron’s pace remains an encouraging aspect of his play, but he needs to find control © Getty Images (File Photo)

India’s bowlers continued to struggle on Day Two of the first Test against Australia in Adelaide. Mohammed Shami and Varun Aaron were very expensive, conceding runs at a rate exceeding five per over. Karn Sharma, the debutant spinner, also struggled to make a mark consistently. Nishad Pai Vaidya writes about India’s bowling struggles at the Adelaide Oval.

Late on Day One, India sneaked back into the game by picking up a few wickets. Mohammed Shami and Varun Aaron, the two new ball pacers, made inroads late in what was a largely forgettable day. Both the pacers sprayed it around and were punished by the rampaging David Warner. But that brief spell late in the day infused hopes ahead of Day Two. Though Steven Smith was still in the middle and a determined Michael Clarke stood before them, India failed to build on that momentum and allowed Australia a stranglehold.

What should worry the Indian team is the way the bowlers have conceded runs? They have been far too expensive for the liking. With the exception of Ishant Sharma, the other frontline bowlers conceded runs at over four an over. In fact, Shami and Aaron conceded runs at over five per over. Karn Sharma was at a relatively respectable 4.33. Shami, Aaron and Karn conceded over 100 runs each. Certainly that isn’t something one expected from the frontline bowlers.

Shami’s performance was perhaps the most worrying. During the recent One-Day Internationals (ODIs), he looked in good rhythm and that increased hopes of him bringing that form into Tests. He has been out-of-sorts for a while in Test cricket. In his first three Tests, he had taken 16 wickets. Since then, he had only accounted for 18 wickets in seven Tests, which includes this performance at the Adelaide Oval. He was guilty of spraying it around early on Day One and that trend continued on Day Two. Shami is most effective when he hits a fuller length consistently. Instead, there have been too many deliveries short and wide.

Aaron has been expensive on previous occasions but is a wicket-taker. Nevertheless, his performance in Adelaide does not do justice to his talent. In England, Aaron was very effective when  got it right. He was quite consistent on that tour, though he leaked runs. This time, he was way too erratic. Only the odd short ball troubled the batsmen. Aaron’s pace remains an encouraging aspect of his play, but he needs to find control. In First-Class cricket, his average is around 35 and his strike-rate is over 60. As one of the commentators pointed out, Aaron needs to work on that aspect as the wickets may come, but the runs could prove very costly.

Coming to Karn, he did have one good spell in the middle. Warner fell to him as he tried to clear the ground and it was in the midst of a spell when Karn was purchasing turn. However, is Karn the best specialist spinner India have at their disposal? Prior to this game, he had taken only 66 wickets in 34 First-Class games. While his average is a decent 28.87, the fact that he has taken only 66 wickets in 34 games shows that he isn’t the wicket-taker. It was quite surprising that India chose him ahead of Amit Mishra in the Test squad; and then picked him over Ravichandran Ashwin for this Test.

While India have the right pacers in the line-up for this Test, they haven’t delivered the goods. The lack of consistency has hurt India big time. Add to that, there is a spinner who doesn’t fit into the mould of leading the charge. The batsmen now have some hard work in store if they have to save this Test match. Virat Kohli’s maiden Test as captain has not gone according to plan.

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_45)