When you’ve always fought, but people still doubt your ability, the feeling of dismissing arguably the world’s best batsman has to be soul-fulfilling. The pure joy in the leap from Ravichandran Ashwin was a reminder to the world that he’s a player at the top of his game.
But even better than the four wickets he prised out was the hypnosis of his bowling. The beautiful loop, the tantalising dip and the drift were all there. Pure joy, indeed.
By the time I checked the score today, Australia had already batted for 4-5 overs. I was disappointed at Messrs. Saha and Ashwin for not continuing yesterday’s good work. But the score also brought memories of the Australia vs South Africa Perth Test from 2016. I believed that India’s attack will fight tooth-and-nail, like the Proteas did from nearly the same 1st innings score. My biggest fear was Umesh Yadav, but what gave me hope was that the Oz openers were not allowed to blaze away, like we’ve seen them do on countless occasions. That was promising.
I was hoping for a team bowling performance that’d negate Steven Smith. Without him, this score had similar potency to our score from the corresponding 2018 Test. I knew that it’d require something incredibly special from the team to keep the Oz team below our own score, but of course that is what I was hoping for.
India’s frugal bowling effort through the day also brought back memories of the 2017 Bengaluru Test. This was proof of an attack mature and sure about its methodology. This was the work of a bowling group that had belief in its ability to work the conditions.
Australia’s run rate after 50 overs was as credulous as encountering a snow leopard in the Rann of Kutch. I just couldn’t help smiling all through, until about the time when Tim Paine started going berserk with the tail.
Yesterday’s play was of a high level, grand in how the Indian batsmen kept fighting against the amazing bowling of the Australian team. Today’s was even better, maybe. 15 wickets for 211 runs, the numbers tell us. But the real joy was in the battles. Some credit for this is due to Mohammed Shami. Every ball of his first two overs looked like an event. It led to a redirection of the team’s bowling radar. The overs before he arrived were tight, but it wasn’t like the thrill-a-ball we saw since then. In the away history of the Indian Test team, such tight and incisive bowling throughout the day is a rare occurrence. True, the last three wickets dampened the enthusiasm a little, but like yesterday, if you’d offered me the end-of-day numbers before the day’s play, I’d have jumped at them.
It was a bowling performance for the ages, and it has set up the match gloriously.
P. S. : Have a look at this feline.
Featured image courtesy.
Thanks for reading.