HEAT ON IN­DI­ANS

AUSSIES SHOW UP:

The Cairns Post - - FRONT PAGE - RICHARD EARLE

AUS­TRALIA have si­lenced Virat Kolhi and ev­ery mem­ber of In­dia’s top or­der bar Chetesh­war Pu­jara, who fought back fas­tid­i­ously with an im­pres­sive cen­tury on day one of the first Test at Ade­laide Oval.

The open­ing day fin­ished with Pu­jara be­ing run out for 123 by a su­perb di­rect hit from Pat Cum­mins, who had one stump to aim at after toil­ing for 19 overs as tem­per­a­tures hit 38 de­grees. In­dia will re­sume at 9-250, hav­ing crashed to to 3-19 then 6-127 be­fore Pu­jara ral­lied with help from the tail.

After eight months of soulsearch­ing there was lot for dis­il­lu­sioned home fans to like.

FI­NALLY, a ball was bowled and a host of pre-match ques­tions re­ceived at least tem­po­rary an­swers on a Test day won by Aus­tralia.

A last-ball run-out of In­dia’s lone re­sis­tance Chetesh­war Pu­jara for a stoic 123, by a tir­ing Pat Cum­mins, was an ex­cla­ma­tion point on a great day for the home team.

The war of words, or world of words tossed around in the lead-up never set­tled on a proper an­swer as to not only how Aus­tralia would play, but whether In­dia could cope.

Would Tim Paine’s team be nice or not? Would they play the “Aus­tralian way”? That in it­self had no clear def­i­ni­tion. It was ag­gres­sive, but not vo­cally, only phys­i­cally. Body lan­guage and all that.

The skip­per said “be­ing nice” never came in to it, even though the PR of­fen­sive post the South African scan­dal and the scathing cul­tural re­view sug­gested a friend­lier ap­proach to a tough game was the pre­ferred way for­ward.

As the sun set on the Ade­laide Oval and the score­board had In­dia 9-250, the red Kook­aburra had done most of the talk­ing any­way.

There were a few bold stares from the bril­liant Aussie bowlers as well as some un­der-the­breath-mut­ter­ings. Mitch Starc let slash­ing In­dian keeper Rishabh Pant know he wasn’t long for the sheds too.

“Keep blaz­ing away, champ,” Starc said be­fore Pant was out for a flashy 25.

But it was the bowler’s ef­forts, not words, which gave re­newed hope to a cause so many thought was lost.

There was no muz­zle on the home side, not even after cap­tain Tim Paine lost his third straight toss and his men were sent in to field on a scorcher.

It could have been cause for plenty of groans with the mer­cury headed to­wards the high 30s, the wicket look­ing a bit flat and the In­dian bat­ting lineup boast­ing the best in the world.

Virat Kohli had three hun­dreds in his last four digs in Ade­laide and would take the pitch with him if he could.

But Paine and coach Justin Langer had pointed to how fresh their front­line bowlers were, the same at­tack which looked, on pa­per at least, the linch­pin of a side boast­ing two open­ing bat­ters who share only two com­pleted Tests be­tween them.

Mitch Starc was the only fast bowler who went to the United Arab Emi­rates in Oc­to­ber, and he’d played in just a lone T20 since.

Josh Ha­zle­wood, who so many pun­dits picked to take more wick­ets than any­one this se­ries, had all but been wrapped in cot­ton wool since Cape Town. Pat Cum­mins much the same.

So they let rip, with con­di­tions against them, and set the new Aus­tralia on a course back to­wards the sort of side they had been be­fore the most un­set­tling time in the game since World Se­ries cricket.

Their plans were near per­fect, ex­e­cu­tion close to it too. The catch­ing matched the bowl­ing stan­dards, and with ef­fort and en­thu­si­asm wick­ets tum­bled.

The In­dian open­ers went quickly, with only 15 runs on the board, which brought Kohli to the crease.

He’s a man for any sit­u­a­tion, and in sweet touch.

But he’s hu­man too, and was brought un­done by both a well-ex­e­cuted plan to get him driv­ing, his own im­petu­ous­ness, and a bril­liant Us­man Khawaja catch.

In­dian No.3 Pu­jara was the only out­lier. He re­sisted all day with his fight­ing cen­tury, bat­ting as the pitch de­manded.

Credit did have to go to the at­tack, in­clud­ing Nathan Lyon, who on a first-day pitch in Ade­laide had no right to cause as much trou­ble as he did.

Ha­zle­wood led the way, and Lyon was right be­hind him. Paine was with him too, in­vent­ing fields to suit, as un­con­ven­tional as they were fluid.

If there was any sledg­ing, no one heard it. It was a bat ver­sus ball bat­tle, against the el­e­ments too, just the way it should be.

SAT­IS­FY­ING RE­SULT: Aus­tralian bowler Josh Ha­zle­wood (left) re­acts after dis­miss­ing In­dian bats­man Ajinkya Ra­hane.

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