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'Stunned' Josh Hazlewood lauds Pat Cummins, Australia's 'calmness' after Adelaide hurricane

'We thrive on those situations when we're a little bit behind and it's up to us to change the momentum of the game'

Daniel Brettig
Daniel Brettig
In trying to assess the hectic events that saw Australia effectively wrap up the first Test against India in Adelaide in the space of one session that scooped nine Indian wickets, Josh Hazlewood sounded as much like a shocked onlooker to a major hurricane as he did like the triumphant scooper of 5 for 8 in one of cricket's most miserly five-fors ever.
The sheer speed of India's collapse for 36 all out was largely to blame for Hazlewood's daze, which left him unable to add too much to the essential notion that this was "just one of those days" for an Australian bowling attack that, when it gets it all right, is as destructive as any ensemble in the game's history.
Grasping for a comparison, Hazlewood recalled the 2019 Headingley Test against England, when the hosts were obliterated in their first innings before the Ben Stokes-comeback-special allowed them to win the match. This Adelaide episode, however, was far more definitive in deciding the course of the Test match and, perhaps the series now that Virat Kohli will be heading home.
"I think it was pretty similar to maybe Leeds looking back to the Ashes when we bowled them out for 60," Hazlewood said. "It didn't change a great deal from the first innings, we just bowled a touch fuller and maybe a touch straighter. But I thought Cummo [Pat Cummins] set the scene beautifully and I just followed suit. Everything got nicked and everything went to hand, so just one of those days.
"We're probably a bit stunned, but probably a bit more stunned when we came off from bowling. The mood didn't change too much throughout the whole game to be fair. I know we were behind by 50 [53] after the first innings, but there was a calmness amongst us. I can probably speak for the bowling group in saying that we thrive on those situations when we're a little bit behind and it's up to us to change the momentum of the game, and that's what we did today."
Cummins had set a strong tone for the Australians from the moment his captain Tim Paine chose to give him the new ball on the second evening. And after his initial breakthroughs - including the prized wicket of Cheteshwar Pujara for a duck - Hazlewood followed up with a spell that bettered Tim May's storied 5 for 9 against West Indies in 1993 as the least expensive five-wicket return in Tests at the Adelaide Oval.
"I can't put a finger on when [I knew it was special], but it might have been when I looked up and it was 6 for 20 or something, and Cummo had Pujara and Kohli both out and we just had the tail to come," Hazlewood said. "I think around that time you know you've got something special going, and I just felt like if we kept bowling in those areas that nicks were going to keep coming.
"We just didn't let up really. It was just one of those days when everything went to plan, we kept putting it in on that spot and the nicks kept coming. It happened so quickly, it was over before we knew it."
Asked if he had felt anything like May did - when he at one point of his spell had remarked to the captain Allan Border "this is scary AB, they're just coming out so good" - Hazlewood was a little less spellbound by his complete mastery of the Indian middle and lower order, but not by much.
"It certainly was coming out nice," he said. "Rolled in first ball and happened to get a wicket. It gets you in a good frame of mind and pretty confident, I guess after my first over, and just took it from there really. I kept seeming to be bowling to a new batter whether I was getting the wicket or Cummo was, so that's always nice as well to come up against someone fresh and facing their first delivery. It's certainly coming out nicely and hitting a good length. There were really no plays-and-misses to be honest, they all seemed to catch an edge and that can happen sometimes.
"Even when you talk to our batters, the pink ball when it's a bit fuller is probably a different story than the red ball. Whether it's at night or the day time, I think quite a bit of grass was left on this track here, so the fuller you could bowl without bowling a half-volley, it seemed to be working a treat. That's the challenge [while] trying to bowl that full length without bowling too full and we sort of nailed that today.
"So we probably [were] a touch straighter at certain times as well, so talking to all the batters it just seems the toughest ball to be honest."
As for the effect on India, Hazlewood acknowledged from his own experience - not least being part of the team bowled out for 60 by England at Trent Bridge in 2015 - that such an event can take a bit of time recovering from.
"I've been in their shoes before in different series," Hazlewood said. "I mean getting bowled out for 36 is going to leave a few headaches here and there, and their best batter leaving is going to leave a bit of a hole. But they've got plenty of class batters on the sidelines to come in, obviously not of Virat's class but in terms of the series, I think it's obviously great to be one up - better than being 1-0 down as we found out last time they were here [in 2018-19].
"But in terms of the red ball, it's a fresh start [come] the next Test. [It's] going to be a different wicket [in Melbourne]. Red ball, so [it will be a] fresh start for bat and ball, I think. They're obviously going to have a player come in for Virat. They've obviously got some class players on the bench, so a good player will come in and we'll have some plans for him no doubt."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig