Although Mitchell Johnson looks like just another bowler, deep inside he is a fire-breathing dragon © Getty Images
In the first few outings, Mitchell Johnson looked like just another bowler. But deep inside, he is a fire-breathing dragon © Getty Images

Mitchell Johnson slammed 90 runs and took four wickets in the second Test at Brisbane against India to regain the lost momentum as Australia took a 2-0 lead. In the second innings, Johnson looked peaking the way the world has seen him in the last couple of months. These are certainly ominous signs for India, says Devarchit Varma.

Mitchell Johnson was expected to maul India. Mitchell Johnson was expected to run-through the famed batting line-up, to leave it completely shattered, broken and bruised. But so far, for some unknown reasons, it did not happen as the world anticipated. Johnson looked a shadow of himself. In the first couple of outings his deliveries — which were supposed to resemble bullets fired from the latest technology gun — lacked the vigour and the threat which petrified batsmen across the world. He looked like just another bowler, merely participating in the Tests, not the fire-breathing dragon that could bring armies down in a flash.

The cricket fraternity did not dwell into what was wrong with him. But there were signs that Johnson was not recovering fast enough from the tragic demise of Phillip Hughes, or from the bouncer that hit Virat Kohli near the badge on the helmet on a relatively flat deck at the Adelaide Oval. Johnson had looked worried, lost, confused, sometimes broken, or sometimes not there in the contest at all as he sent down his overs. But then, it all changed suddenly.

An out-of-form batsman can find his rhythm back only by scoring runs. A similar rule applies for bowlers: they cannot reach their peaks unless they are not picking up wickets. These have been the parameters set by the world.

Not surprisingly, cricket has had its share of freaks — people who refuse to follow the usual norm. With his willow in hand at The Gabba, Johnson proved that he is one of them.

Australia must thank Rohit Sharma to help them get back the Johnson they were longing and desperate to see. As Johnson walked out to bat on Day Three, Rohit went on to chirp around Johnson. The plan backfired.

Whatever invisible barrier had been preventing him from bringing the lethal best out in Johnson was gone. He belted the short balls which India believed would work for them. His brutal onslaught helped Australia bounce back. Following an excellent fifty from Mitchell Starc, they were suddenly favourites in the Test.

And then, the Big Mitch was back. He looked nearing his best in the second innings as The Gabba carried enough assistance. A few deliveries zipped past the Indians. One hit Murali Vijay. Finally, when his turn came, Rohit could not even survive more than two balls.

Johnson did not utter a word when Rohit walked back. He did not dish out a stare. Like he did to James Anderson at Adelaide Oval in 2013-14. In fact, he did not even stare. A smile, a gentle smile was all that was there. A smile of relief. Perhaps he thanked Rohit for setting him free, for helping him rediscover his lost mojo.

(Devarchit Varma is a reporter with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)