34th over: Australia 110-1 (Harris 68, Labuschagne 15) Shami is back from the Paddington End and Labuschagne using his bat conservatively against a bowler he is facing for the first time, almost certainly in any form of cricket. A maiden it will be.
2019-01-05 by W.M.
Australia v India: SCG fourth Test, day three – live! | Sport
33rd over: Australia 110-1 (Harris 68, Labuschagne 15) Jadeja to Harris, who again strides confidently to drive down the ground early in the over. Defending with a touch more intent this time around Labuschagne retains the strike from the final delivery, finding one behind square leg. This is turning into a handy little stand.
We have our annual Cricket Media Association dinner/awards tonight. If you were selecting the men’s emerging player of the year, who would you select? No, I am not crowd-sourcing our work, but I am curious. Caveat: they have to be playing this week so that we can present the the gong in person and say nice things about them.
“Does Shane Warne get an unfair rap for his commentary?” Asks Liz H. I’m inclinded to simply say ‘no’ and move on, but I’ll be kind! “He repeats himself and chuckles at his own jokes…but very enthusiastic, perceptive and praises ALL good cricket.”
I’m going to do as Tony Jones would on that dreadful show and take this as a comment.
32nd over: Australia 108-1 (Harris 67, Labuschagne 14) Harris is absolutely smashing these singles to the sweepers on the off-side, picking out mid-off with easy from the first offering of Kuldeep’s new over. Labuschagne is safe at home, building his platform, before sweeping with real confidence to finish to secure his second boundary.
31st over: Australia 103-1 (Harris 66, Labuschagne 10) You look up, and the Jadeja over is complete. The only action was a single to Harris, another to the man on the point boundary in front of the O’Reilly Stand. It’s a healthier crowd today; they should get more in than the ordinary numbers of day one and two. Speaking of the SCG Trust in the previous post, remember when their chairman was insisting that this ground is deserving of two Tests a summer at the expense of other venues? No, it is not.
30th over: Australia 102-1 (Harris 65, Labuschagne 10) Up comes the 100 for Australia, via a Harris single to long-off. He’s struck the ball so well down the ground today. Labuschagne takes one off his pads then Harris finishes with another through the gap on the off-side, out to deep cover. “The curator has a lot of work to do here,” says Ed Cowan on ABC. “I’m surprised the SCG Trust didn’t appoint one Tom Parker’s understudies when he retired. They went external when he retired and it takes a long time to work out how the turf plays. The Shield games played here have been on very, very average wickets.”
29th over: Australia 99-1 (Harris 63, Labuschagne 9) Jadeja to Labuschagne, sending down a timely maiden of darts to calm things down a touch. “You would like to take this pitch around the world if you were a batsmen,” Jim Maxwell says on ABC. “It is like a solid concrete block. I reckon you could play a timeless Test for ten days.”
28th over: Australia 99-1 (Harris 63, Labuschagne 9) Bang, bang, bang! Harris, now batting in his baggy green, takes Kuldeep down with three boundaries in four balls! The first is lofted over long-on, the second pulled with fury to midwicket and the third picked up flat also to long on, getting just to the pitch of the flighted change-up. Into the 60s he goes, with a bullet!
27th over: Australia 87-1 (Harris 51, Labuschagne 9) Jadeja is back, zipping through a quick over at Harris, who keeps the strike with one to square leg. He was given a bit of tap during his first stint, so this is an important shift for him in the lead up to lunch.
“The SCG is essentially a football ground these days,” Ed Cowan says on ABC as I turn the dial. I’m not sure what the context is, but I feel like it is important to include. I think he’s lamenting how little Shield cricket is played here at the moment.
26th over: Australia 86-1 (Harris 50, Labuschagne 9) Labuschagne gets on a nice little run here, punching Kuldeep for two through cover off the back foot then nailing the overpitched reply to the cover rope from his front dog. For the rest, he’s sturdy in defence. What a fantastic opportunity for the young, plucky Queenslander this is.
“I’m looking forward to that bit in the re-cut poem,” Ben Jones (reading along next to me) says, “when Warner says that he doesn’t really hate Moeen, not even a little bit, not even at all.” On that topic, Bob Wilson is back in my inbox: “I thought you had talked to Naylor about being funnier than me,” he says. “It’s incredibly rude and disobliging.”
Harris to 50!
25th over: Australia 80-1 (Harris 50, Labuschagne 3) From the first ball of Bumrah’s new over, the adopted Victorian opener pushes one to point to raise his second Test half-century. He’s there in 67 balls, picking up five boundaries along the way. With the exception of one miscue off Jadeja, he’s been wonderful in this first hour today. Labuschagne is off the mark later in the over from the outside of his blade, albeit along the ground through the cordon for a couple. He adds a single to midwicket to finish the over, which will feel much better as they take their drinks.
I forgot to post the Khawaja wicket, here ‘tis.
24th over: Australia 76-1 (Harris 49, Labuschagne 0) Harris strikes with the middle of his bat for the umpteenth time this morning, to the sweeper at point. This is his best chance yet to make his way to a maiden Test ton, make no mistake. Labuschagne plays the remainder of the Kuldeep over carefully. “He’s a very good player of spin,” notes Ricky Ponting. He’ll need to be, Kuldeep is a star (and my fave, as you can probably tell).
Superb areas, Gaz. I’m going to re-write the Julia Stiles poem at lunch.
23rd over: Australia 75-1 (Harris 48, Labuschagne 0) I was about to type “this could turn into Australia’s best session of the series” or something like that when Khawaja fell. There are people getting stuck into him online, and I get that, but it was the delivery that did him. It brings Labuschagne, to the middle at number three for Australia. Imagine saying that twelve months ago. He’s on strike to Bumrah after Harris adds a couple through square leg then a single to point. The new man cops an inswinging yorker first up, just keeping it out via bat and boot! Welcome! At the end of the over he joins Harris for a laugh in the middle of the pitch, looking at the bottom of his bat that saved him from a first baller. Phew.
WICKET! Khawaja c Pujara b Kuldeep 27 (Australia 72-1)
Fantastic bowling, Khawaja done by the Kuldeep wrong’un! He was on the front foot trying to score through cover but didn’t pick the one that goes the other way, the miscue ending up with Pujara for an easy catch at cover. What classy, accurate bowling that is.
22nd over: Australia 72-1 (Harris 45)
21st over: Australia 70-0 (Harris 44, Khawaja 26) Jadeja has been taken off after just those three overs, Bumrah back from the Randwick End. Harris is forced to play throughout, getting down well to a slower ball before pushing another one to mid-on. He’s doing just as Chris Rogers says a busy opener must, turning the board over as often as possible with singles. Khawaja keeps the strike with one into midwicket to finish.
20th over: Australia 68-0 (Harris 43, Khawaja 25) Harris is again on the front foot scoring, taking one early in the Kuldeep over to mid-on. The spinner was instrumental in India’s series-winning victory at Dharamsala in 2017, on debut no less. He may be India’s third choice spinner for now, but he has a long, long career ahead of him. Mindful of this, no doubt, Khawaja watches the rest of the accurate set respectfully.
19th over: Australia 67-0 (Harris 42, Khawaja 25) Australia are going at better than four an over so far this morning, helped by Khawaja getting into his reverse sweep posture for the first time today, nailing it too for four more. When he was playing this shot a year ago it was seen as a sign of weakness, now it is one of his most dependable. For evidence, see how well he played it in Dubai during his fourth innings epic.
18th over: Australia 61-0 (Harris 41, Khawaja 20) Spin from both ends, Kuldeep replacing Shami from the Paddington End. On telly, Tim Lane describes him as a left-arm over the wrist bowler, which will doubtless inspire feral comments about him being a snowflake or some such – what a world we live in. The runs keep coming after Harris sizes him up, carving a couple out to point then getting on the front foot to pick out that same sweeper for two more to finish. Into the 40s he moves. Go you good thing.
17th over: Australia 57-0 (Harris 37, Khawaja 20) Are these two Hayden and Langer in disguise? Two more boundaries in this over, the 50 stand brought up with another cover driven boundary from Harris, later in the over Khawaja jumping down the track to hammer Jadeja over mid-off for four more! That’s entertainment!
16th over: Australia 47-0 (Harris 32, Khawaja 15) This is some excellent batting, Khawaja getting into position early to flick a boundary to fine leg with that lovely lift of the back foot when contact is made. Harris is better again, capping the over with a perfect cover drive. No need to run for that. Have a breather, I’d suggest, Mr Shami.
“Mon cher Adam.” Why, it’s Bob Wilson dropping us a line from Paris. Good evening over there, comrade. “Many thanks to the LemonCroftCollins trio for a really smooth OBO run in the last couple of games. Good areas. I love this series like a child or a puppy. It’s been a vintage squeeze. I get the current Australian sackcloth and ashes routine about this team but I think these Indians have been remarkable. The almost imperceptible increase in their grip on this has been a thing of beauty. We all love the hack and thump of dizzyingly macho mental disintegration but this lot have executed the most gradual schlonking I’ve ever seen. They have poached you like jellyfish in a jacuzzi. It’s like a romcom with a bodycount.”
I can’t add to that. Superb. A romcom with a bodycount, a new turn for Paul Rudd?
15th over: Australia 36-0 (Harris 28, Khawaja 8) Jadeja is on, and there is a dropped catch from the first ball of his spell! Well, Rahul didn’t quiteget to it at mid-on, but he should have. After talking up Harris, he’s played the false stroke, sounding ugly off his bat,, but he survives. He does well later in the over, keeping his cool after his reprieve to drive through cover from the balls of his feat, out to the rope for four.
14th over: Australia 32-0 (Harris 24, Khawaja 8) Lovely again from Harris, the second time this morning he has driven down the ground with control, albeit only for one this time. Even so, this might be the best we’ve seen him look for Australia so far. Khawaja then flicks a couple, watching the rest carefully. Not a bad start at all from the openers.
“Morning Adam.” Kim Thonger! How goes you? “I fully expect Australia to bat well on this pitch. They might even declare, on either 567 for 8 or 678 for 9, ah but no I’m English, so by their scoring method perhaps it will be 4 for 567 or 5 for 678. If they reach 6 for 789 though, I’ll eat my trilby. I’ve confused myself now, so I shall stop.”
Gosh, the last time Australia declared? Possibly at this ground 12 months ago? Some niche work is required to take this further: the longest time between Australian declarations? Thankfully, I have Geoff Lemon to my right and Ben Jones from CricViz to my left. They live for tasks like this.
13th over: Australia 29-0 (Harris 23, Khawaja 6) Bumrah versus is shaping up as a tasty little contest, the Indian seamer building up up his pace through the over at the Aussie opener. Some good Test cricket early in the day here.
12th over: Australia 29-0 (Harris 23, Khawaja 6) It’s Shami from the Paddington End, running away from us. Harris uses the pace well, timing a defensive push to cover to pick up one early in the over. Khawaja is using his bat in defence for the rest, getting one to mid-on to keep the strike.
11th over: Australia 27-0 (Harris 22, Khawaja 5) Shot! First ball of the day, Bumrah overpitches to Harris to leans into a lovely off-drive for three. Khawaja is immediately under pressure with a delivery slipping past his blade and into his pad but by the end of the over he is leaving confidently.
Out come the teams for their pink cap presentation. The Australians and Indians file past Glenn McGrath to present him with their baggy pinks, which are no in turn popped online to help with today’s huge fundraising task. To the middle they continue to begin day three. Bumrah has the ball in his hand, Australia resuming at 24-0 with Harris (19), there with Khawaja (5) PLAY!
One of the joys about writing at the SCG is the half hour or so when the sun is setting over the back of the Members and Ladies Stands. Here was my vantage point last night. I don’t like much about Sydney, but I do like this.
“Welcome to the hot seat, Collins!” Good morning to you, Raakesh Natraj. “Tim Paine, top bloke. Wonder how long he’ll hang on to the captaincy after the return of Smith and Warner? Would like him to go on.”
Well, in practical terms, it’ll be at least April 2020 before Smith is eligible to lead again – they banned him for two years from captaincy gigs. There’s no reason to pension off Paine any time soon, for mine. If anything, this whole episode reinforces how unfortuante it is that Paine wasn’t able to lead this side earlier. If we knew what we knew. Yes, his finger was cooked for years, but by the time Smith took over, Paine was very much back in business. Ah well.
When he does finish up, Cummins is the man for me. In 818 Tests that Australia has played, only one has been led by a quick. Ridiculous. Pat: It’s on!
Righto, I’m now upstairs. The ground is looking a treat and it is already hot, with a forecast top of 35 degrees in Sydney today. There will be no complaints given that during this fixture last year it reached 47. Have that.
To the enormous credit of Tim Paine, he fronted the press conference at stumps last night. Better still, he maintained a great sense of humour, especially when a colleague’s phone went off on the table. Nicely played.
Welcome to day three at the SCG!
Another smashing day in the harbour city, not a cloud to be seen. Now, there are days in the dirt and then there are days in the dirt and Australia certainly experienced one of the latter on Friday. That was quite brutal yesterday afternoon as India’s lower order got busy, Pant’s unbeaten 159 a real wonder.
Without any realistic hope of winning the Test from here, the job for the hosts is to find a way to bat for a full day; for the top order to make the most of these favourable conditions to show that some lessons were learned in Melbourne.
I’m looking forward to your company through the first session before Geoff Lemon and JP Howcroft stop by later to drive the OBO home. What do you think? Is this the day Travis Head or Marcus Harris post three figures for the first time? Does Usman Khawaja put on a clinic? Or will it all come tumbling down? Drop me a line, ping me a tweet – you know the drill. Good morning.