Australia v India, 1st Test, Melbourne, 1st day December 26, 2011

The lethal drizzle and Cowan's distinction

ESPNcricinfo presents Plays of the Day from the first day of the first Test between Australia and India in Melbourne

The break
David Warner had just shaken off a nervous start, hitting Umesh Yadav for a four and an emphatically pulled six in the 12th over when a fine drizzle arrived for the second time in the morning. This time it was deemed heavy enough to walk off. Scarcely had the teams made the change-rooms than the covers came off, and out walked Warner and Ed Cowan. Yadav bowled another bouncer immediately after the break. This one was sharper, beat Warner for pace on the pull, lobbed off Warner's glove, and settled in MS Dhoni's hands.

The start
Ricky Ponting walked out to a rousing reception from the 60,000-plus that had made their way in by the time Australia lost their first two wickets. At the start of the innings he felt his way through on the most familiar of turfs. He slipped, he stumbled, but the most unexpected of the sights came when he faced his second ball. He began with a trademark stride forward and a leave. The second was a bouncer, and he was not going to shy away. He went for the hook, took his eyes off, and was hit on the head - the picture tells the story. However, he was alert enough to kick the ricochet away from the stumps.

The landmark
When debutant Cowan, watchful, leaving everything outside off alone, reached six, he had registered the highest score for an Australian opener in his first innings in 18 years. That was only the start, though. He went on and on and on, patiently picking balls to play like he would words to write, and ended on 68, the best maiden effort for an Australian opener since Wayne Philips scored 159 back in November 1983.

The debate
It was only a matter of time before this series would see raging debates over DRS. It arrived soon enough, in the final session of the first day. Zaheer Khan had just got Michael Clarke out when he bowled a peach that Michael Hussey fended at. A huge appeal for a catch behind the wicket followed, which was upheld by umpire Marais Erasmus. Hussey looked miffed, and didn't make an attempt to hide his disappointment at the decision. Which was just as well, because the replays showed the ball had flicked only his shirtsleeve. Minutes later, Cowan fell to a dodgy decision too, when the Hot Spot and Snicko didn't show an edge. Cue in heated debate. As fans we would love a wise solution to this debate, but as newspapers, TV channels and websites, we are loving it.

The modern-captainitis
Zaheer had just taken two in two, the new man Brad Haddin had just walked in, but when he faced R Ashwin in the next over, this was the field: long-on, deep midwicket, fine leg and just one slip. Need more be said?

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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