Published On: Fri, Feb 17th, 2023

Recent Match Report – Australia vs India 2nd Test 2022/23

India 21 for 0 (Rohit 13*, Rahul 4*) trail Australia 263 (Khawaja 82, Handscomb 72*, Shami 4-60, Ashwin 3-57, Jadeja 3-68) by 242 runs

In one of the only two Tests India have lost at home in the last 10 years, Australia won the toss on a turning track and posted 261 in Pune in 2016-17. They batted with similar urgency after winning the toss on a Delhi pitch where they played just one seamer, and managed to get to 263.
Australia will be hoping the similarities endure even though the black-soil track of Delhi got better to bat on as the day progressed. The pitch started off with more turn than Nagpur had on day one and also more bounce than is usual in Delhi, but batting looked easier as the day progressed.
R Ashwin looked the most threatening bowler, operating over two long spells for to pick up 3 for 57 in 21 overs, including the wickets of Marnus Labuschagne and Steven Smith in the same over moments before lunch. Mohammed Shami bowled attacking lines and lengths, which showed in his economy rate of over four, but he also produced four wickets. It wasn’t the best of days for Ravindra Jadeja, who went at 3.23 an over and conceded boundaries regularly off the back foot, was still good enough to take three wickets.
Usman Khawaja and Peter Handscomb were the standout batters for Australia. When India were at their most threatening with Ashwin and Mohammed Siraj bowling in tandem in the first session, Khawaja went reverse-sweeping and sweeping to make sure they denied the bowlers a stationary target. It worked perfectly for Khawaja, even resulting in a deep fielder just for the reverse-sweep, until a well-timed reverse-sweep ended in a blinder of a catch for KL Rahul at cover-point. The opener was 19 short of a hundred.

Handscomb was more orthodox and assured, trusting his defence, waiting for the loose ball and, on occasion, creating back-foot shots. When Khawaja and Handscomb added 59 for the fifth wicket in the middle session, Australia looked the most in control they have been all series. However, they also suffered three double blows: losing Labuschagne and Smith on 91, then Khawaja and Alex Carey on 167 and 168, and Pat Cummins and Todd Murphy on 227. Handscomb stayed unbeaten on 72, adding 19 and 17 for the ninth and 10th wickets.

Coming into the most difficult assignment in cricket – a Test series in India – you want all your resources, but Australia still didn’t have Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Cameron Green available. The absence of Green possibly resulted in one more Test for David Warner, who copped a blow on the hand and on the helmet, spent half an hour without a run and with a nick off Shami, he now has the worst average for those who has opened in at least 10 Tests in India.

Australia still added 50 for the first wicket even as Warner looked out of sorts thanks to Khawaja’s aggressive intent. When Khawaja and Labuschagne got together, they even began to target the bowlers.

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