Magical Adelaide: Warner, Kohli, Lyon, and an inspired win


Nathan Lyon celebrates the winning moment in Adelaide (photo: Getty Images)

Nathan Lyon celebrates the winning moment in Adelaide (photo: Getty Images)

DAVIS HARRIGAN

INFINITY CRICKET MEDIA

Ecstatic scenes at the Adelaide Oval on day five of a test match that twisted, turned, surprised, and ultimately thrilled, encapsulated the perfect send off for Phillip Hughes by the Australian team.

David Warner was electrifying. Nathan Lyon was the spin king. Michael Clarke was falling apart and still put on a majestic performance. Virat Kohli decided defence was a bad idea.  India almost won the test.

What Warner did on the first morning of the test was turn a tribute to his close mate into an ordeal for the tourists.  Seven fours in the first half an hour rattled their cages to the core.  The New South Welshman turned it into something akin to a Twenty20 game in whites.

Australia looked comfortable on a flat deck.  Clarke was near inspirational.  In the field on day one, Kohli was evidently distressed with the distinct lack of wickets.  No-one would have contemplated what was to come.  With much of the second day marred by rain, a draw looked likely.

India mounted their greatest challenge of their last five tests (Adelaide 2014 included) against Australia.  Kohli put on a masterclass, and it seemed Australia, like India, had no answer for a while.

Perhaps one of the most chilling – yet enthralling – moments of the match was Mitchell Johnson’s first ball to Kohli.  Smacking him on the Indian logo on his helmet sent a statement Australia was there to win.  However, it wasn’t easy.

Phillip Hughes was looking on from his seat “up there” when Australia – or David Warner, specifically – crunched runs in a bed to make India chase a fourth innings target.

The bowlers

For all the pace he generated, it felt like Varun Aaron missed out on making an explosive impact.  Granted, Adelaide’s surface was extremely unforgiving for the pacemen, but match figures of 3/179 aren’t spectacular.  However, what he presented was someone who could get the Australian batsmen on the back foot.  The Gabba will be far more suited to his pace and technique.

Lyon has had the lion’s share of critics in the past 12-18 months, but he said “stuff you” to pretty much all of them on day five.  He was gifted footmarks made by the pace bowlers on the first four days.

He is a workhorse, and showed just why with 7/152 in the second innings.  Despite an economy rate of 4.44, “Gaz” took the wickets when it counted.  That includes Kohli and Murali Vijay.  Put aside all the umpiring decisions that went astray, the clinic Lyon put on gave Australia a memorable victory.

Every little ounce of motivation and tactics went into throwing the playbook at the win.  Spare some credit for Brad Haddin as well; two catches and the final blow stumping in the second innings made him a very important part of the win.

Clarke won’t play the remainder of the series, but he will know he has played a significant part in winning the test match.  Kohli and Vijay looked unstoppable in the second innings before the rip opened.

Lyon used flight and deception to its maximum potential, and it got India in the end.  Once Kohli put a ball down the throat of Mitchell Marsh in the deep, the test dynamic dramatically swung.

India will be rueing the golden opportunity they were given. With a run rate of less than four per over for the day, Kohli and Vijay put them in a sterling position.  Australia, spurred on by wanting to win for their fallen teammate, took the last eight wickets for 73 runs.  That is an incredible turnaround, after the test was heading for a draw.

Warner started it, Clarke and Smith continued it.  Kohli joined in on the act, and so did Murali Vijay.  Then Lyon pounced like a cat.

On what was a special occasion, Australia took the sword to the opposition, and were ultimately successful.  While India’s competitiveness will be well-received by those watching the match, the collapse at the end will still ask questions as to whether they will match it for the remaining three tests.

(See the original Infinity Cricket post here)

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