India v Australia, 2nd Test, Bengaluru, 2nd day March 5, 2017

India's problems amplified by match situation

India's decision to go with four bowlers meant each of them had to step up - a job they did and would have felt happier about had the match situation been different
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Barring some looseners early on, Ishant Sharma delivered a top-class performance on the second day © Associated Press

Ishant Sharma began day two of the Bengaluru Test with a half-volley on David Warner's pads, and when he sent down another boundary ball in his second over - short, punched through cover point - Australia moved to 50 for 0, Warner to 28, and everything looked ominous for India.

India had lost the first Test and followed that up by getting bowled out for 189 on the first day of the second. They were one more bad day from losing the chance to reclaim the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. They had only picked four specialist bowlers for this game, and couldn't afford even one of them having an off day. They could rely on their spinners not to have off days, but they couldn't be quite as sure about Ishant or Umesh Yadav.

Now, Ishant wasn't making the greatest start to the day.

He ran in again, with Warner standing at least a foot outside his crease. The speed gun said 141kph, which doesn't sound particularly lightning, but bouncers always clock less than full balls, and Warner was certainly slow to react as the ball spat towards his right ear. His head ducked sideways, and his glove went up instinctively. He was lucky the ball missed everything and whizzed over his right shoulder.

From there on, everything was different. It was as if that bouncer had transformed the mood of the match. Having conceded two fours in his first 10 balls of the day, Ishant would bowl a further 98 balls and concede only one more, Matthew Wade edging past the diving wicketkeeper.

Ishant ended the day with figures of 1 for 39 from 23 overs. Umesh ended it with 1 for 57 from 24. This was India's best day of the series, and the two fast bowlers were as much at the forefront as R Ashwin or Ravindra Jadeja.

Ashwin hardly gave anything away - particularly while bowling over the wicket and into the rough outside the left-handers' leg stump - and went to stumps with figures of 1 for 75 from 41 overs. He did not get the ball to misbehave with the frequency of Nathan Lyon on day one, which could have had something to do with his style - he does not put as much overspin on the ball as the Australian - or the fact that the pitch had gotten a little lower and slower, without the first-day dampness that Lyon profited from.

Kohli's sparing use of Ravindra Jadeja brought three wickets to the spinner © AFP

Still, Australia hardly scored off Ashwin, and that, coupled with the fast bowlers' unexpected frugality, probably caused them to play more shots against Jadeja than they otherwise might have. In a curious reversal of roles, Jadeja ended up profiting from the other bowlers' economy, with two of his three wickets - Renshaw jumping out too early and getting stumped down the leg side and Peter Handscomb failing to clear midwicket - coming from batsmen taking chances.

For once, though, Jadeja bowled fewer overs than India's other specialists. On a dry, cracked surface that caused the odd ball to keep low or jag sideways, Virat Kohli kept going to his two quicks - it took until the 47th over of the day for the spinners to bowl in tandem - and Ishant and Umesh kept running in and asking questions, and could well have ended up with more than just a wicket each.

Umesh found Matt Renshaw's edge four times in two overs, and none of them carried to the slips. Three streaked to the third man boundary, and Kohli could have caught one of them had he not risen too early from his anticipatory crouch.

Then Umesh had Shaun Marsh caught behind off the glove. It was given not out, and Wriddhiman Saha, whose appeal was the most vociferous of all the Indian players, did not persuade Kohli to call for a review. When Umesh had Marsh adjudged lbw shortly after tea, a review saved the batsman - an inch the other way and the ball would have hit his pad in line with off stump.

Ishant then nearly had Marsh lbw too. Replays suggested the umpire had every reason to give it out had the bowler not overstepped.

It was that kind of day for India's bowlers, their frustrations amplified by the match situation. On its own, keeping high-quality opponents to 197 for 6 in 90 overs would represent a highly satisfactory day's work, but by the end of it Australia were already ahead by 48 runs. On an absorbing second day, India chased the game as well as they probably could have, but by the end of it were fully aware they were still chasing it.

Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • cricfan1639967817 on March 6, 2017, 7:33 GMT

    I am an Indian and an indefatigable supporter of the home team. But, I'm not blind. This "weakest Australian to have ever toured India" has shown the attitude to succeed under alien conditions. Regardless of the final outcome of the series, the team from Australia deserves credit for the way they prepared for this series and applied themselves. Big-mouth experts (ex players and arm chair specialists) please note: big talk is vanity, performance is sanity and result is reality.

    As regards Indian team, were they too complacent? Or was it fatigue? Whatever it is, there are few things that this Australian team has exposed: (1) Indian batsmen are not as good players of spin as they are supposed to be; (2) if sufficient pressure is exerted on this Indian team, even in home conditions and by the "weakest" Australian team, they can suddenly become brain dead; (3) Indian spinners are not as good as they are made out to be, even under home conditions;

  • LALITHKURUWITA on March 6, 2017, 4:34 GMT

    When Murali bowls Batsmen are dancing around the batting crease to face the ball. Now Ashwin is dancing as per the following comment in Live cricinfo.

    Gareth: "Ashwin really throws his arms around in his run up. If you threw some heavy dance music over the top of the footage I reckon we'd have a YouTube sensation. "

  • pradeepd83 on March 6, 2017, 4:17 GMT

    Frustrations? What frustrations? You have no reason to be frustrated when you overstep consistently and drop catches. Jayant started it in Pune giving life to Warner when he overstepped. Ishant bowls no balls regularly. Indian fielder's are poor catches. They will lose match after match overseas.

  • cosair on March 6, 2017, 2:45 GMT

    Field placings by Kohli were pretty poor and leaked valuable runs. Ashwin was overused and became ineffective. Going in with 4 bowlers did not leave much options in the bowling department. Indian think tank appear not to have put on their thinking cap.

  • sportofpain on March 6, 2017, 2:39 GMT

    @ Gravity_Down: That is a bit rich mate considering the Australians invented sledging. Mental disintegration anyone? What did Clarke tell Jimmy Anderson not so long ago? Also what did Anderson himself do to Jadeja, also not so long ago. When you give, you will also get. You should be prepared to accept it. That said don't think India should go over the top with this kind of thing esp if it distracts from executing on their skills. But we don't want Australians telling us that sledging is bad.

  • dmat on March 6, 2017, 1:52 GMT

    I'm not sure India should take too much out of this day's play. Warner played a terrible shot - the ball pitched outside leg and he didn't cover any of his stumps? Was a good ball from Ashwin but should not have bowled him. Smith was beaten fair and square. Renshaw batted well but had a brain fade after hitting a 6 off Jadeja. Handscomb was not patient enough and threw his wicket away (a bit of luck with the catch too). M Marsh got a shooter which was bad luck rather than good bowling or bad batting. S Marsh played a poor and unnecessary shot when there were just a few over left in the day. If Aus can bat till lunch, the lead will be 100+ and not much hope for India. In my view, Australia have been a little reckless with the advantage they got on day 1.

  • funkybluesman on March 6, 2017, 1:26 GMT

    Really hoping that rain doesn't ruin the match. I've heard there's plenty of rain forecast the next few days. Hopefully that forecast will be as off the mark as all the forecasts for what would happen in the series have to this point!

  • Cricinfouser on March 6, 2017, 0:50 GMT

    GRAVITY_DOWN ON MARCH 5, 2017, 16:11 GMT is absl;ute;y correct "One thing that is clear so far is that India has a long way to go to play like a dignified sporty team on top of the ranking...right now they are looking ugly and even if they manage to do well in this series, the glo will be gone and people will remember how desperate and ugly it was...not to mention the bad pitches we have seen so far." Shame on Indians behaviour. Yougnsters watching are see poor examples. Virat is not setting a good example.

  • Ms.Cricket on March 6, 2017, 0:22 GMT

    Here's where Kumble's inexperience as a coach comes into play. He has just defended his players in the media but has not worked purposefully on match plans for their bowling.

  • j.frankparnell on March 5, 2017, 23:47 GMT

    VNOTT ON MARCH 5, 2017, 14:48 GMT

    I wouldn't worry too much about Lyon and O'Keefe; I would be very worried about 150kmh shooters from two bowlers who like to bowl to hit the wicket. Can't see any batsman surviving the ball skidding off a good length - I won't be surprised if there are 5+ LBWs in India's second dig.

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