It was a dramatic session and a half at the Adelaide Oval on Saturday! Yes, that is all it needed for Australia on Day 3 to not only bowl out India for their lowest ever score in Test cricket, but also knock off the runs without breaking a sweat and with 8 wickets in hand. After a sensational three odd hours of play, the home team beat India by 8 wickets to go 1-0 up in the four-match series.
India started the day with a 62-run lead with 9 wickets in hand. But, in what was, arguably, one of the greatest sessions of high quality and disciplined fast bowling in modern Test cricket history, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins routed the Indian batsmen and reduced the team to 36 for 9 before Mohammed Shami was retired hurt - this, effectively meant that India’s second innings was done and dusted for 36 - their lowest score in Test cricket beating their previous worst of 42 against England at Lord’s in 1974!
It was a bright and sunny warmer day in Adelaide which also meant that the wicket had quickened and there was not only more pace and bounce but also more movement off the air. The rest was ensured by some incredible line and length bowling from the two Australian quicks. Cummins started the rut getting rid of the night watchman - Jasprit Bumrah - before getting the big scalp of Cheteshwar Pujara. The Indian number 3 has been a rock in Australia in the previous tours (and the first innings) wearing down the bowlers but did not have an answer to a peach of a delivery from Cummins. The ball angled into middle and off and straightened and Pujara had to play - he did not move his feet which brought about his downfall as the edge was lapped up by skipper Paine behind the stumps.
Now it was time for the Hazlewood aka Glenn McGrath Show! He delivered with his first ball of the day extracting extra bounce inducing the edge from Mayank Agarwal. It was a double-wicket maiden as Hazlewood snapped Rahane for a duck off the fifth ball of the over - the Indian vice-captain guilty of not moving his feet at all and playing from the crease. India were in tatters at 15 for 5.
Skipper Virat Kohli, watching the carnage from the other end, decided to play a few shots in order to get the scorecard moving. He chased a full and wide delivery off Cummins outside off - which under normal circumstances he wouldn’t have touched as he displayed all throughout the first innings - and paid the price getting caught at gully.
A few overs of resistance before Hazlewood saw the back of Wriddhiman Saha and R Ashwin off successive deliveries - the latter his 200th dismissal in Test cricket. He then got Vihari - another trademark dismissal drawing the batsman in and then straightening it off the surface to draw the edge. Hazlewood had taken a fifer. It was all over in the next over when Cummins struck Mohammed Shami with a short pitch delivery on his forearm and the batsman retired hurt. India were rolled over for 36 - their lowest score in Test history. Not even a single Indian batsman was able to get to double digits! Cummins returned with four for the innings.
To add salt to the wounds for India, Australia hammered down the required target of 90 in just 21 overs losing the two wickets of Matthew Wade and Marnus Labuschagne, on the same pitch where India had found batting impossible! The match ended with a six from Joe Burns aided by another dropped catch by India - this time at fine-leg - which summed up their fielding effort in the Test match.
Hazlewood was the star on Day 3 for Australia with figures of 5-8 in 5 overs - he had delivered one of the best spells in the history of Test cricket. But the real star of the match was Tim Paine whose fluent 73 in the first innings, on a pitch and conditions dominated by bowlers, helped Australia add an invaluable 80 for the last three wickets without which the chase could have been tricky and we may have witnessed a different result.