A result-oriented batting paradise
West Indies' batsmen had a tough time at the Gabba but, for a line-up woefully short on runs and confidence, the venue for the second Test represents the best chance to get going. The Adelaide Oval should raise Chris Gayle's spirits since it is one of West Indies' better venues in Australia.
The last of the visitors' five wins in Adelaide was the pulsating one-run victory in 1993, when Courtney Walsh dismissed Craig McDermott to end a 40-run last-wicket stand in the nick of time. Since then, West Indies have lost in each of their three visits to Adelaide. Australia have an impressive record here, with the last of their 16 defeats coming in 2003, when Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Ajit Agarkar inspired a come-from-behind upset.
|Time period||Played||Won||Lost||Draw/Tie||W/L Ratio|
|Since January 2000||9||7||1||1||7.00|
Adelaide is among the best venues for batting around the world. It has traditionally favoured the time-tested dictum of win the toss and bat first, a trend bucked only by the invincible Australian sides of the 2000s, whose dominance often removed the toss from the equation. Six out of the nine matches played since January 2000 have been won by the team that batted second; Australia were victors on five of those occasions.
|Time period||Played||Won by team batting first||Won by team batting second||Draw/Tie||W/L Ratio|
|Since January 2000||9||2||6||1||0.33|
Australia's belief that they can enforce a win irrespective of the toss is statistically well-grounded. In recent times, the pitch at the Adelaide Oval has remained a batting beauty for long enough to ensure that teams batting second are not disadvantaged. This is evident through the fact that the average scores in the first two innings have gone up considerably, while the variation between them has come down since 2000. In the same period, batting in the fourth innings has become easier than in the third.
|Time period||1st innings||2nd innings||3rd innings||4th innings|
|Since January 2000||48.3||46.5||23.0||28.7|
The most interesting aspect of recent Adelaide tracks is that they drastically change character around the halfway mark, making batting notoriously difficult for both teams in the second match innings. The variation in averages between the two match innings is significantly higher in Adelaide than in any of the other major Test centers in Australia.
|Ground||1st match innings||2nd match innings||Percentage variation|
The Adelaide Oval offers very high returns for batsmen who like to bat long periods. While it has witnessed 23 centuries since 2000, five of those occasions have seen, batsmen going past 200. All those double hundreds have come in the first innings and, on four of those occasions, in the first innings of the match - a compelling reason for the captain winning the toss to bat first. During this period only seven double-hundreds have been struck in all the other Australian Test grounds put together.
|Number of 100s||% contribution to 100s in Australia||Number of 200s||% contribution to 200s in Australia||% of 100s converted into 200s|
Australia's batsmen have excellent records at the Adelaide Oval and will look forward to another run-feast. Michael Hussey tops the averages, aided by three not-outs, while Ricky Ponting has five centuries and an equal number of fifties here. Michael Clarke and Brad Haddin will also have fond memories of their hundreds in Adelaide. West Indies on the other hand will hope that the likes of Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan (if he plays) can improve on their past showings here. Chris Gayle will be playing at this venue for the first time.
Although a batting paradise, Adelaide has also been among the more spin-friendly surfaces in Australia. Spin has accounted for over 35% of the dismissals here, a ratio topped in Australia by only the SCG. Nathan Hauritz, Suleiman Benn and Chris Gayle will look forward to exerting more influence on the proceedings than they did at the Gabba, which is the worst venue for spinners in the country. Dwayne Bravo will look to repeat his form from the 2005 Test where he picked six wickets.
|Pace||Spin||Mixture/Unknown||Percentage of spin dismissals|
Another striking feature about the Adelaide Oval is that it is an excellent venue for Test cricket. Of the nine Tests played here since 2000, seven went into the final day's play, while only one ended in a draw. This, despite the fact that even all-time greats Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath have failed to make an impression the first innings. That the mighty Australian side of the 2000s routinely failed to enforce early results here speaks volumes about the surfaces which have managed to be batsman-friendly and result-oriented at the same time.
Nitin Sundar is a sub-editor at Cricinfo