Friday, March 17, 2017

Smooth Surface Allows Smith to Sail on Calmer Waters

For all the talk before the match as to what the surface was going to offer in this 3rd Test match in Ranchi, it was still going to be obvious that batting first would be an advantage. From the moment the coin fell in Australia's favour, they then had to grind their way to a position of strength. They're half way there.

  1. What to do about the Flat Track Bully? Once again David Warner has been found out on a surface that isn't an Australian road. Today he was so confused he bunted a little full toss back to the bowler! His mindset is completely shot. He is at his best when he is being positive without being over aggressive. So far this series we haven't seen that at all. The mental game here has been well and truly won by India.
  2. what happened to Matt Renshaw? His finest asset in his short career to date has been his constant leaving of the ball outside off stump. It is what has made the bowlers bowl to him. He was terrific early, and looked set to make a huge score. Then Yadav returned and began to reverse swing the ball that was about an hour old, and Renshaw lost his mojo and started stabbing at it outside off, eventually culminating in his wicket. Let's hope it is a one off, because he greatest asset so far has been his patience. We don't need the Warner Factor to start rubbing off on him.
  3. Shaun Marsh again managed to disappoint. His typical series of one big contribution and then several non existent ones appears to be right on track. So too Peter Handscomb who got his fifth straight start only to fall when he should have been set. Both will be disappointed. One wonder, on this surface, what Usman Khawaja would have achieved. It looked to be perfect for his play...
  4. So here is the conundrum. Glenn Maxwell's selection on tour and then for this Test goes against everything that selection should be. Or at least that's what I've written here for the past week. And yet, today Maxwell showed that he can bat, and that he can bat to the conditions and the fate of the match. Everyone knows he can bat, but it is the constant flurry of unorthodox shots that eventually leads to his downfall that pisses off the Australian public. But today, they were all shelved. He defended well. He pushed for singles, He rotated the strike. When the ball was in his zone he launched it into the outfield - but safely. He played the perfect foil for his skipper at the other end. It wasn't until he was on 74 that he deigned to try a reverse sweep, and very nearly lost his wicket. Then it was put away until stumps. In essence, it was the kind of innings that we sort of knew he was capable of, but were unsure if it would ever happen. It's a day he should be proud of. What comes today though is the next chapter. All that good work is ruined if he doesn't push on in exactly the same way today and makes good on the selectors faith in his ability.
  5. There's not really much more that can be said of Steve Smith. Whereas he had the series' only century before yesterday, he had effectively been given five lives in that knock. Yesterday it was flawless apart from one french cut. 5000 Test runs, 19 Test centuries, but most importantly once again he has stood up as captain of his country, after all of the vitriol of the past week, and lead the way by getting is team into a position of strength. His serious demeanour when acknowledging his teammates on reaching that century indicates he isn't finished yet.
  6. Just to note - once again, not one Indian applauded Smith's century. And not one word was mentioned about this lack of acknowledgement. If that's the way it is, fine, but don't go screaming to mommy if the Aussies show the same lack of respect when an Indian reaches that milestone.
  7. Interesting to note that once there is little help in the wicket, it is the Indian seamers that come to the fore and not their spinners. Yadav was superb again yesterday, with excellent reverse swing, and Ishant solid. The two spinners toiled and bowled the majority of the overs, but without that doctoring effect were less than effective. How the surface plays over the next 3-4 days will be interesting indeed.
  8. What is with Virat Kohli? Did anyone really think he could have damaged his shoulder in the way he tried to dive and field the ball? The fact that he was off the field for more than half the day, and left Rahane in charge, lessened India's impact. It will be interesting now to see where he is allowed to bat if he doesn't take the field today.
Australia couldn't have asked for a better day than yesterday. And while one of the combatants was unsurprisingly at the forefront of the battle, it was Glenn Maxwell's contribution from 4/140 that has gotten Australia to within sight of a 450 first innings total. Few people would have seen that coming 24 hours ago.

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