Home-town hero leads Aussie resistance
THE Australian bubble burst after just one successful day of the summer as the car crash that is Australia's batting sent all too familiar shudders through a national dressing room which had been smiling
Only a stoic effort from local hero Travis Head saved the hosts from total collapse, and kept his team alive, as India's spin king Ravi Ashwin locked in on the Aussie left-handers and sent a serious message for the series.
Aussie quick Mitchell Starc warned us that the opening effort day in Adelaide was just that; only one good day.
And by tea on day two he had been proved so very correct as the Australian top-six heaped the sort of pressure on themselves which has proved problematic in recent times.
The Aussies average just 206 in completed Test innings this year.
A dogged 61 not out from Head, who became the first South Australian to post a 50 in Adelaide for nearly 15 years, helped push his team at least towards that by stumps with the score 7-191.
But nothing shots and limp dismissals undid all the brilliant day one work of the on-fire Aussie attack on an Adelaide Oval wicket proving the opposite of what everyone expected.
Last time the two teams clashed in the city of churches the batsmen were all singing from the same hymn book. The poured on 1566 runs over five days. There were six hundreds scored.
But whether it was the efforts of the best credentialed Indian attack ever to tour here, or the fact the Aussie batting line-up looks among the most brittle to turn out under a baggy green cap, the opening Test could be won by a first inning of 250.
The Aussies couldn't score runs. The run rate hovered just over two an over for most of a tough day. But they could lose wickets, at regular intervals too as, just like the Indians did on day one, too many batsmen gave their innings away.
Sachin Tendulkar weighed in from the other side of the world. The Australian batters was permanently on the back foot. India bowled 30 maidens.
"The defensive mindset by the Australian batsmen at home is something I've not seen before in my experience," he said on Twitter.
Maybe it was because attacking hadn't worked.
A third ball cover drive from Aaron Finch proved manna from heaven for photographers, but only because his stumps were splayed all over the lush green square by Ishant Sharma.
When his opening partner Marcus Harris went for 26, undone by Ashwin the tourists were up on their toes; physically, verbally, emotionally.
Indian captain Virat Kohli, his team's on-field rabble-rouser, turned the volume up to 11 and intensified pressure on a batting line-up that boasted more question marks than the Riddler's bright green suit.
The tourists tried to tell everyone they were happy with their 250, a total which the Aussies put a full stop on with a wicket on the first ball of day two.
It was a total that looked like 1000 to the Aussie bats who played and missed as much as they hit - dot balls topped 400 - and runs became a treasure requiring a map they didn't have.
Usman Khawaja may be 10kgs lighter but was again called on to carry the heavy Australian batting load on his own when Shaun Marsh, the man who we were supposed to trust broke that trust so very badly.
The numbers roll off like soccer scores. Single figure after single figure are Marsh's return in his past six Test innings. No top five batsman has endured a worse run in over 100 years.
He went for two, then Khawaja exited also, his left thumb bringing him undone as Ashwin got his third left-hander out.
It was singled out as a pre-match weakness for the Aussies, the amount of left-handers.
But it was a weakness on a full list for a new-look line-up which, really, lived up to expectations of mediocrity.
Peter Handscomb will hang his head in a similar way he did his bat as he got out flashing.
Head was the only man to keep his team in it, to take advantage of tiring bowlers who spent a full day in more furnace-like heat.
Saturday looms as his day to make hay, to put air back in the balloon, and give Australia a chance for the smiles to come back.