India vs Australia: Immaculate planning and execution helped Aussie bowlers outwit Virat Kohli and Co

It was a day where Australian bowlers set the tone for the series. If the Indian batsmen thought they were thoroughly prepared, it's now clear that the Australian bowlers have outwitted them.

Gaurav Joshi, Dec 06, 2018 15:42:37 IST

Before the series, Pat Cummins was asked to make a prediction about the Test series against India. The well-spoken Cummins took his time, smiled and then replied, "my brave, bold prediction I'd say I think Virat Kohli is not going to get a hundred and we're going to knock them off over here".

The statement created an uproar on social media, so much so that Cummins had to clarify his widely publicised statement, "I'd love to see Kohli not make a hundred because he is a really good player," he said.

Australia's Pat Cummins celebrates after dismissing Virat Kohli. AP

Australia's Pat Cummins celebrates after dismissing Virat Kohli. AP

On Thursday, Cummins put the icing on top of a perfectly scripted plan and stuck to his bold statement by removing Virat Kohli off his fourth delivery on the day. It was not Cummins alone, Usman Khawaja, who shed 10 kg in recent times, flung to his left and took one of the greatest catches one will ever see. Kohli was caught driving, it is something Australia wanted to lure him into, but they had to set him up for it.

The ball to Kohli was the fullest and the widest he had faced in his 16-ball innings. There was no kind offerings on his pads or his hips. Josh Hazlewood deserves a lot of credit for containing Kohli during the initial stages. Rewind the clock to 2015 World Cup semi-final and it was Hazlewood who had bowled that one perfect over to Kohli, which eventually led to the Indian batsman perishing, trying to break free. It was a similar story on Thursday, Kohli after getting through a spell of Hazelwood wanted to show intent, but Cummins out-thought the Indian skipper.

It wasn't just Kohli that succumbed to the Australians tactics. The opening bowlers made a conscious effort to attack the off-stump rather than operating on the traditional Australian fifth-stump line. The spongy bounce off the pitch also played into their hands with the odd ball rising more than expected.

It meant that the Indian openers parked themselves on the back-foot. KL Rahul played a majority of his deliveries by going deep into his crease, so the minute Hazelwood pitched up, he saw it as an opportunity to move forward and drive. The idea was right, but the execution was poor and large part of that was a result of the decisive bowling plans of Hazlewood.

Hazlewood also had a huge role in the dismissal of Vijay. The tall Australian quick had removed Vijay four times in Tests before today and narrowed in on looking to trap him on the front foot prod. Vijay had become so obsessed playing off the back foot that Starc realised Vijay's weakness, bowled fuller and knocked over Vijay.

Importantly, the length was precise and every ball seemed to be hitting the knee roll. The bounce and pace of the new ball meant the Indian batsmen could not lunge forward. In between, there was the furious bouncer. As Cricviz stated, the average speed of Australia's bowling in the first ten overs was the fastest in over 12 months.

Ajinkya Rahane was also another member to fall to that wide sucker ball. But as it was for the other batsmen, the dismissal came on a back of a series of back of the length balls. After reducing India to 41-4, the Australian bowlers had laid the foundations with an exceptional first session.

At stumps, Starc stated that the bowling coach had worked long hours with the bowling unit in scripting plans for the Indian batsmen.

"We planned and prepared for this week. We had a lot's of vision to look at and that has helped us for sure. We bowled exceptional well for the first four hours and they probably deviated from our plans, but we did end up taking nine wickets and that is positive for us," said Starc.

Apart from the pace trio, Nathan Lyon was also outstanding. Throughout the day's play, he prevented giving singles to the Indian batsmen by placing three men in the arc between square leg and mid-wicket.

The long-on remained in place, but such was Lyon's accuracy and dip that he constantly prevented the Indian batsmen from easing the ball down the ground. Even the centurion Cheteshwar Pujara only managed to play his pet shot three times during his knock.

Lyon choked the Indian batsmen, which was evident in the dismissal of Rohit Sharma and Rishabh Pant. The fielding placements were well thought out and the bowling changes were immaculate. Three times bowling changes led to immediate breakthroughs and that was largely due to the constant pressure applied. Overall it was a day where Australian bowlers set the tone for the series. If the Indian batsmen thought they were thoroughly prepared, it's now clear that the Australian bowlers have outwitted them.

Updated Date: Dec 06, 2018 15:43:35 IST

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