It’s halfway through this enthralling Test series, and we are no closer to knowing who might win than we were at the Adelaide Oval on December 6.
After the two opening matches, ahead of the Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Wednesday, the series is tied at one a-piece, with both games going to the final day.
At Adelaide, India won by 31 runs in an even Test match that ebbed and flowed as neither team scored more than India’s 307 in the third innings of the match.
However, it wasn’t a contest just for the bowlers. It was an even contest, with the poor shot selection being the downfall for both sides, again maybe an indicator of T20’s influence on the current game, but it was closely fought and that is what Test cricket needs right now – good, close battles.
Only Cheteshwar Pujara converted his innings to a century, scoring 123 from 246 balls, helping his side to 250 in India’s first innings. For Australia, Pat Cummins took 2/49, and Josh Hazlewood with 3/52 was the pick of the Australian bowlers.
One of the questions heading into the series was about Australia’s resilience with the bat. They showed an improvement in that department, chasing a tricky first innings total against a dangerous bowling line-up.
Australia was bowled out for 235 in their first innings, with Travis Head top scoring with 72 (167) – the next highest scorer of the match after Pujara.
As a result, India held a 15-run lead after both teams had batted, and Pujara helped his side extend their lead as he made a further 71 (204), guiding India to 307 and a lead of 322.
Chasing that kind of total last in Adelaide was always going to be an uphill battle for an Australian side still trying to rebuild their image on and off the field, but memories of Amazing Adelaide in 2006 would have given them hope.
The middle order in Shaun Marsh scoring 60 from 166, and captain Tim Paine hitting 41 from 73 helped the hosts but it wasn’t enough as India got the reward for a solid performance as Mohammed Shami was best with the ball in the final innings, taking 3/65 to see India over the line by 31 runs.
Game Two saw various incidents, although not necessarily bad ones, take the headlines and Australia got themselves back into the series with an impressive 146 run victory.
Various exchanges between captain Virat Kohli and Tim Paine – nothing untoward – gave this match in Perth a bit of tenacity missing from the first Test, with some verbals from the captains taking centre stage.
Although, in this match, Kohli was the one who did the talking with the bat, living up to the pre-series talk and hitting a superb century in India’s first innings, 123 from 257 deliveries. Despite that knock, it was Australia’s time to shine as Nathan Lyon, in particular, stood out, taking eight wickets in the match.
Travis Head hit another half-century (58 from 80) in the first innings, alongside Marcus Harris’ maiden 50, scoring 70 from 141. With a lead of 43 runs before batting again, Australia saw Usman Khawaja make an important 72 from 213, giving the hosts a lead 286 with India batting last before Mitchell Starc (3/46) and Lyon made sure Australia recorded an impressive victory to level the series.
With the series all tied up with two Tests left, this Boxing Day match at the MCG could be the best at the ground in a while, so Australian and Indian fans sit back and enjoy.