Australia v India, 3rd Test, Perth, 1st day January 13, 2012

The WACA welcome, and a replay after 20 years

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

The welcome

The WACA bounce is the stuff of legends. People have usually heard thousands of stories before actually coming to the ground. How exactly is the WACA? Gautam Gambhir found out first ball. It was just back of a length and straight. He thought he could trust the WACA bounce, and leave it on length. The ball, though, reared up and hit him in the chest. Morning everyone.

The selection

The legend of the WACA, and the colour of the pitch, made both captains venture out of their comfort zone. On the match eve, Michael Clarke did say that he felt uncomfortable going into a Test without a specialist spinner, or bowling first. The pitch and India's trouble against fast bowlers so far proved temptation enough, and Clarke gave in. Not only did he pick four pacers, he also inserted India.

The bigger surprise, perhaps, was that India went in with four seamers as well, for the first time since the SCG Test of 1991-92. That also meant they dropped R Ashwin, who might not have been impressive with the ball but was India's second-highest run-getter in the first two Tests.

The shot

Sachin Tendulkar began his innings with a straight drive for four. On air, Ian Chappell was put in the mind of the straight drive he played to bring up his hundred at the same venue in 1991-92. Chappell remembered the bowler too, Craig McDermott. Channel 9 dug into the archives, and Chappell was correct. The only difference was that the 1991-92 drive was slightly to the leg side of the stumps.

The miss

It might even have been a leg-stump half-volley, but an uncertain Rahul Dravid turned it into a yorker, fell over while trying to play it, and watched it dribble off his pad, from outside leg, onto the stumps. Peter Siddle didn't mind it.

The innings

When Zaheer Khan's turn to bat arrived, we got a proper old-fashioned tailender's innings. He never wanted to get in line, and just kept swinging vaguely at what he thought was the line of the ball. Such innings can be fun. This one wasn't. It lasted only 11 balls.

The 12th man

David Warner was blazing hotter than a hot Perth day when he got hit in the helmet by an Umesh Yadav bouncer. It needs mentioning here that he was through his shot already when the ball hit him. Anyway, that encouraged Yadav to bowl more short deliveries. The first was upper-cut for four, and then second pulled wide of midwicket. When he cut the third one in front of square, India found extra help as the ball hit a bird around the extra-cover area, and went for only two. What India wouldn't do for a hawk to catch one for them?

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments