Bookmakers have already spurned Australia from outsiders to win the second Test but there is reason for tourists to be hopeful in Delhi, writes ROBERT CRADDOCK.
Australia have a quirky team for the second test but it’s right for the conditions and it’s given an unsung group of weirdos a chance to do something really special.
Bookmakers have India $1.25 and Australia spurning underdogs at $5 to win the Test after a straight day, but if Australia are bowling well on an already crumbling deck, that gap should be too big.
We get the form. India have lost just two of their last 43 home tests and still deserve to be heavy favourites.
But Australia’s first innings of 263, while not outstanding, were far from terrible in a Test where batting is the hard part.
Spinners Nathan Lyon, Matt Kuhnemann, Todd Murphy and part-timer Travis Head have to think, if only Australia can beat India by 180 points or more in the second innings, the tourists will be in the game up to their eyeballs.
So often in top-flight matches in Australia, spin bowlers are small players who come in when all other options have been exhausted. They are not in Delhi.
The Delhi deck already welcomes spin and has a variable bounce. Any slow man worth his salt must dream of bowling on such a deck on the fifth day of a Test.
Although the unavailability of Cam Green and Mitchell Starc prompted Australia to pick an oddly shaped team that only includes a fast bowler, it could still prove to be a boon.
From what we saw on day one there is no guarantee that the inclusion of Green or Starc would have improved Australia’s chances of winning in these conditions.
Australia’s weirdos should be drooling at the prospect of this dusty deck slowly crumbling to bits. The tourists have to dig their fingernails into the rhythms of this game and hold out as long as possible.
Kuhnemann had every excuse to feel blue-eyed and vulnerable as he picked up the new ball for Australia a week after playing a Sheffield Shield match at the MCG.
Still, he looked nervous and precise and his four smooth, clean overs tested the amazing Rohit Sharma, who sees the ball like a pineapple.
The message was clear.
With this deck, you don’t need to have any mesmerizing tricks.
Just lay the ball down to a decent length and the natural variation of a crumbling deck will be your stardust.
Australia’s selectors have come under fire for the past week for skipping Travis Head and generally over-hyping Ashton Agar as their choice for the tour.
Fair points indeed, but they also had some sweet points, like selecting the cool, calm Peter Handscomb, who could easily have been left behind, and the blood of the impressive youngster, Todd Murphy.
Both are excellent decisions and calling up Kuhnemann to replace Mitchell Swepson while he returns to Australia to attend the birth of his first child could work well.
Australia has a massive four days ahead of them.
Score a shock win then India will suddenly get nervous and Australia will have a returning cavalry and a host of young nerds on form.
Lose and nothing really counts in the last two Tests because India retained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy…again.
THE PRESSURE IS HEATING ON WARNER WHILE GREAT ASH CALLS
By Ben Horne
David Warner was unable to return to the field last night after suffering blows to the head and body as Usman Khawaja secured his passage to England as well as a new million dollar deal.
It was unclear if Warner’s problems were linked to a concussion or if there are other injury concerns after he intercepted brutal deliveries to the helmet and elbow on day one.
Warner made just 15, but fitness concerns put into perspective the toughness he showed as a soldier after Indian sailor Mohammed Shami’s reckless attack.
It came as Warner was warned he would be a scarred man in the Ashes and face similar body line tactics in England should he make it this far.
Australia’s 36-year-old left-hander met mixed fortunes on the first day of the second Test, with Khawaja’s heavy 81 bearing not only relevance to that Test but also to his future outside India.
After 195 non-outs in the Sydney Test and 1000+ runs in 2022, the dominant innings in Delhi will surely be enough to lock Khawaja up for the Ashes in a couple of months.
There was a lively dexterity to the way Khawaja hit in tricky conditions, and his 125 balls stood out as the day’s innings.
Warner fought hard for his 15 of 44 balls on the first day of the second Test, but after some brave shots eventually fell victim to Indian champion Mohammad Shami’s excellent, accurate bowling.
Test godfather Allan Border admits the selectors will have to discuss Warner’s future at the top of the order should he fail in the second innings and Australia lose the Test – but stressed the 36-year-old deserved a chance to ‘go out on his own in terms .”
Former 310-wicket Test Quick Lee said if Warner goes to the Ashes later this year he can expect Ben Stokes’ arsenal of Quicks to follow the Shami blueprint of relentless around-the-wicket bowling, which reminds him of one of England’s Ash greats.
“He definitely needs runs. One and 10 in the first test. Fifteen in this test. He definitely needs a bucket of runs but I think it was really, really well constructed fast bowling for David Warner who got around the wicket,” Lee said on Fox Cricket.
“That sacking of Shami was a bit like Andrew Flintoff blown away in England.
“That’s how they’re going to bowl in England if he goes that far and decides to go to England.
“But let’s worry about India. He has to pass that test first, and then a few more.
“Warner is due and he’s a quality player and I really hope for him and for Australia he can dominate.”
Border said Warner’s career was at stake but warned there was still a lot of water to go under the bridge in this second Test game.
“When you go out there in the second innings and it rocks and rolls and we lose the Test game, all of a sudden the selectors start thinking, ‘We might have to plan a little bit more going forward,'” Border said on Fuchs.
“And considering his last tour of England was a horror, you might think, ‘This is the time.’
“I don’t like to talk about good players and leave them out willy-nilly. Give him the chance to go out on his own terms. We will wait and see how this all develops.”
Not that Khawaja was necessarily under immediate pressure, but his dominance in Delhi is well timed as Cricket Australia picked his contract rankings in April and the Queenslander now deserves a top 10 deal.
The last thing Australia needs is for Khawaja and Warner to leave the team at the same time.
Warner scored two hundred points just three Test matches ago and the selectors have already said they view his experience as crucial to their Test match trip this year, which will likely include a Test championship final before the Ashes.
If Australia loses the second Test and Warner is out in the second innings then that streak will be over anyway and any decision about his future must be based on the Ashes and not India.
The question remains who is actually ready to take over Warner?
Matthew Renshaw was himself axed for the second Test to accommodate the return of Travis Head and failed to impress against Spin in the first Test.
Warner is a 100 Test great and one of the world’s all-time greatest batsmen, and selectors may be reluctant to make a call on their opener-mid series.
Originally posted as Australia v India second test live: follow the latest news and updates from day two
https://www.codesports.com.au/cricket/australia-v-india-second-test-live-follow-the-latest-news-and-updates-from-day-two/news-story/7207a03176c45f95f98e4e52d049d275?nk=108f8f062dde36da81c4a70ecbe980c2-1676676308 Cricket India vs Australia: Live Scoreboard, Selection by David Warner