1st Day Report Card: India vs Australia Second Test, Gabba, Brisbane

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Indian cricket team skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni could not have hoped for a better ending of the first day of the second Test at Brisbane’s majestic Gabba Stadium. Down 0-1 in the series , Dhoni needs a big score to put pressure on the Australian batsmen and opener Murali Vijay, who narrowly missed a fine ton at Adelaide when he was given out leg before at 99 in the second innings as India chased  in vain the target of 364, did not miss out the opportunity at Brisbane.

 The right- hander Vijay stroked a fine innings of 144 and supporting him from the other end was the ever improving  Ajinkya Rahane unbeaten on 75. Both the batsmen helped India end the first day’s play at a respectable 311/4 . What was impressive about gritty Vijay’s knock was that it was made  on very hot and sultry day in Brisbane. However, it is indeed strange that while Vijay was in his elements with the bat, his opening partner Shikhar Dhawan is finding the going tough while attempting to get a big score under his belt. This has been Dhawan’s major problem in recent outings. He is getting the starts but is not able to convert them into big scores.

But Dhawan despite his poor run at top might retain his place in the side simply because there is not much experience to fall back on. And also, there is no Gautam Gambhir or Virender Sehwag.

The selectors have picked prolific Karnataka batsmen K L Rahul as the  team’s  third opener. But will the team management, with Dhawan’s repeated failures, draft in a newcomer Rahul for the third Test against Australia? It is a big question and it begs an answer. The second innings at Brisbane could well decide  Dhawan’s  future in the Test series.

In both the Test matches played so far, the umpiring has been a big disappointment. And feeling the heat of the umpiring errors is Indian batsman Cheteshwar Puajra. Pujara  should consider himself unlucky. For the second time in the series, Pujara has been given out wrongly. At Adelaide he was given out wrongly caught behind when the snick-o-meter showed there was no edge. And at Brisbane he was given out caught behind off the delivery of debutant Aussie speedster Josh Hazlewood. The replays showed that the ball had clearly brushed the grill of the helmet on the way to wicketkeep Brad Haddin. Injured Australian skipper Michael Clarke expressed sympathy with Puajra on Twitter saying “Not a great decision that one.”  India’s refusal to accept the DRS it seems is hurting them badly. Pujara’s dismissal is the case in point.

 At 311/ 4 , with Rahane and Rohit Sharma at the crease and Dhoni, Ashwin to follow, India would want Rahane and Rohit to play as long as possible and help India post a target to challenge Australia. The first hour on the second day will be crucial. Can India make a big total or will the Aussies fight their way back to deny India their dream? Makes the second day’s play at Gabba a riveting one to watch .

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