I had two thoughts running through my head as I waited for the third test to begin at Delhi.
One was that whoever won the first day would not lose the test. And that the first session and the first hour would be important. I expected Australia to come out hard whether they batted or bowled. If India could resist them in that period, they’d have done a great deal of the hard work, and could look to building on from there. (Thanks for winning the toss, Krumbles!)
The second thought I had concerned an old NBA playoff series between the New York Knicks and the Orlando Magic (I think it must have been 1997). That year, the Magic jumped out to a lead in the series, leaving the Knicks to play catch-up. The game I’m thinking of required the Knicks to stay alive; the Magic needed to win in order to wrap up the series. The Knicks came out and played desperate, hard, basketball for about 15 minutes. They ran for everything, went up for all rebounds, and played their hearts out. But the Magic didn’t break; they held on, weathered the storm, and then the Knicks broke, losing the game and the series.
So, my take on this first day was going to be that if India resisted and turned back the Aussie attack, they’d go on to break them later in the game. My reasoning is imprecise, but the analogy should be clear: the Aussies are keen to make a press, and have India break. If that tactic doesn’t work, I think they will find themselves out of ideas.
And the evidence is that that is already happening. Once again, the over-rate is abysmal, a sure sign that too much tinkering is going out on the field as the captain shuffles bowlers, fields, tactics, everything possible. Cameron White has been reduced to a spectator again as Clarke and Katich, both not picked for their bowling, bowl more overs than him. Honestly, 4 overs in a day for a test bowler? That’s such a resounding vote of no-confidence that I really wonder how White is faring emotionally. And despite huffing and puffing, the quicks didn't blow the house down.
All in all, this was not a first day the Australians wanted, and they will look back fondly at that period when they had India at 27-2 and the promised land beckoned.