The entire cricketing world stopped spinning on the 25th of November. It remained frozen in time as Australia and the rest of the world mourned the loss of Philip Hughes until the first test between India and Australia began at the Adelaide Oval on the 9th of December.
The opening ceremony of the test was a beautifully dedicated moment towards Hughes. 408 was painted onto the pitch, Hughes was named 13th man and the crowd applauded for 63 seconds in honour of Hughes’ final score.
Australia won the toss and elected to bat first, David Warner was clear from the start on his intent. He smashed three fours from both the second and third over and seemed to be in as great form as ever. It took until the fourth over for a bouncer to be bowled by a brave Varun Aaron and cricket finally started to feel normal again. India removed Chris Rogers and Shane Watson fairly quickly but fell behind as Warner continued to score at more than a run-a-ball. By the 25th over, he had scored 77 runs and raised his bat twice at 50 and 63 to once again commemorate his teammate .
David Warner and Michael Clarke dominated the Indian bowlers through the day. They seemed untroubled and Warner reached his century with ease. Clarke’s injuries flared up again and he retired hurt on 60 with Australia at 206-2 giving India the chance to break through with a new unsettled batsman. Steve Smith who has been in great form continued in the place of Clarke and pushed the score on. Australia went on to score an immense 517 runs with three centurions including Smith who ended on 162 not out, Warner and Clarke who came back out to play after retiring hurt.
517 seemed like a daunting total in itself but appeared almost laughably unattainable considering the very young Indian team, their performance in England, and the fact that they were playing away against the likes of Mitchell Johnson and Ryan Harris under the stand-in captain Virat Kohli.
India’s innings got off to a much slower start than Australia’s and Shikhar Dhawan fell early chopping one onto his stumps. Cheteshwar Pujara steadied the innings scoring 73, he seemed much more comfortable here than in England. Murali Vijay fell on 53 to bring Virat Kohli out. On the first ball, Kohli was hit on the helmet from a bouncer by Johnson and the entire Australian team which had a reputation for being aggressive and intimidating rushed to his side. It seemed that Australia had changed.
Kohli, like Pujara, appeared much more comfortable here than in England, he went on to score an incredible century. With contributions from Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma, India ended on what was a respectable total of 444. Except for Kohli, four of India’s top batsmen appeared to settle into the innings with three scoring half centuries and yet they all got out without converting their figures into big scores.
Australia still had a 73 run lead and built up their lead on day four to 363 runs with David Warner scoring another century in the test. This was the second time Warner scored two centuries in one test this year. Only five other batsmen had ever achieved this. Tensions rose during his innings as Warner was given out to a ball and then recalled after it was deemed a no ball. Warner taunted Varun Aaron as he came back having been given a send off by the bowler and captain. Dhawan also got involved and cricket appeared to be recovering to its fiercely passionate self once again.
Day 5. Target for Australia: 10 wickets. Target for India: 364 runs.
The target for India would have been a draw had it been an older team or a different captain. In fact a draw would have been the target for most teams. Virat Kohli however, had his sights set on the win. At no point did India look like they would attempt to bat through the day to draw the game.
Dhawan and Pujara fell early, the pitch was a truly intimidating day five pitch and no team would have liked to be chasing a 300+ total on it.
Kohli came onto the pitch to join Vijay and the game changed. The first debut captain to score two centuries in an test. He appeared to be floating above the ground, he did not put a foot wrong. On a pitch that would have had any batsman second guessing himself, Kohli had reached his zone. Vijay was at one end playing on the day five pitch and scored an admirable 99 whilst Kohli was playing as though it was day 1 again and India were batting first.
Another twist in the match occurred again just as India were cruising as Vijay fell to Nathan Lyon. Rahane and Sharma couldn’t hold on either as Lyon bested them with his sharp turn and bounce. On 141, Kohli appeared to momentarily come out of his trance as he mishit one straight to Mitchell Marsh. Possibly the most gut wrenching moment for Kohli who had brought India within 60 runs of what could have been one of the most incredible wins ever.
The final three wickets fell quickly and Australia had won the first test by 48 runs with Nathan Lyon taking a seven of the wickets in the fourth innings.
The match was truly competitive game that brought in every aspect of the sport. Through its aggressiveness, passion and record breaking cricket it was the perfect way to get the cricketing world spinning again.