RANCHI : Murali Vijay st Wade b O’Keefe 82
(183b, 10x4, 1x6).
In the 182 balls Vijay faced until his dismissal, he seldom looked in any sort of trouble. Coming into bat late on Friday afternoon, the opener displayed zen-like concentration. Every now and then, when he left the ball alone, he shadow practiced a shot that he could have played. He knew those shots are there in his repertoire, but the match situation didn't allow those.
He put his head down and geared up to face the next delivery. He knew which bowlers he had to watch out for and ones he could target. Of the 10 boundaries he struck, he didn’t score any off Pat Cummins — in fact, he scored only one run off him. Seven were scored off Nathan Lyon, two off Steve O’Keefe and one cover-drive off Josh Hazlewood on Day 2.
After the first hour of play saw only 24 runs scored, Vijay knew he had to take on the spinners because India were going nowhere with such a slow run-rate. But, Lyon and O’Keefe were keeping things tight and the opener decided to disrupt their rhythm by sweeping from well outside off. Steve Smith applauded in approval as he wanted Vijay to continue to take the risk.
For a while, it seemed like the ploy was working.
India were set to go to lunch without losing a wicket, a sort of moral victory. Vijay stepped out off the fourth ball, knowing there was a six in the offering if he managed to clear the infield. Delivered from over the wicket, he failed to read the delivery and Matthew Wade did the rest.
The dismissal in Vijay’s own words: “Actually, the previous ball to the one I got out, I saw that there was not too much spin. I thought there are scoring opportunities. The shot was on with both mid-off, mid-on inside. Those are the shots which I bank on and I backed my instincts. It did not work. I wasn't disappointed actually. But the situation was wrong I guess and the execution was not up to the mark, but definitely the shot was on.”
Virat Kohli c Smith b Cummins 6
(23b, 0x4, 0x6)
Coming in at No 4, Kohli was already under pressure and the first thing that Smith did was take the new ball and bring on Cummins and Hazlewood. Everybody knows the India skipper has a weakness around the off-stump.
Thanks to Glenn Maxwell, who chased down Pujara’s flick all the way to the boundary, Kohli was on strike. Cummins fired in a fuller ball as Kohli’s eyes lit up. He was looking to drive, with his feet nowhere close, the ball moved slightly and took the edge and Smith took a sharp catch.
Ajinkya Rahane c Wade b Cummins 14
(33b, 2x4, 0x6)
The Mumbaikar looked comfortable while defending, but Aussies, having done their homework, went for the short ball with two fielders in the deep. Rahane, who likes to pull, took them on and got a boundary. Rahane could have prolonged his stay, but then he decided to play an upper cut, with his feet in the air. His undoing.