Joel Wilson’s Lyon Vendetta, Jadeja goes full on Marnus and stealth caught behind critics

The third Test between India and Australia was played in Indore, raising the prospect of an endless supply of Indore/Indoor cricket puns, something that would distract the Australians from their inevitable beating.

A nice touch from the BCCI.

Unfortunately, the Indoor Test was not intended to be played under indoor cricket rules. A horribly missed opportunity for all involved. I mean what are we even doing folks?

Here is the report card for the third test.

moral victories

Grade: B+

In the opening session on Day 1, wickets turned as everyone expected. What was unexpected, however, was that they were Indian wickets, with Steve Smith deftly losing the throw and allowing India the first blow.

Of course, Smith was captain because Pat Cummins had returned home. Cummins’ absence and a healed finger also allowed Mitchell Starc to return to the team.

Starc was immediately carried away, apparently unaware that it was a spinner pitch, and took the wicket from Rohit Sharma, who had caught the first ball behind him before later LBWing it as well.

Great bowling from Starc who would therefore have been disappointed if Rohit had hit well into the second and beyond. The reason was that the umpires hadn’t bothered to issue the Indian captain and Smith hadn’t bothered to check any of the calls.

Reviews cannot be burned if you never use them. That is the Smith philosophy. good captain

The Marnus of India reviews

grade B-

Shortly after lunch on day one, Australia ended its mauling of the home side and sacked them for 109th, foolishly tearing up India’s batting lineup with sharp deliveries that also occasionally stayed low.

Stupid stuff from Australia who surely must have known that if they ever have to bat on the pitch they are doomed. Why not let India beat for five days instead? Refuse to accept explanations. Take a tie.

And yet, in response to this after Travis Head fell early on, Marnus Labuschagne did what he does where he is the luckiest man in the universe and was recalled after pulling a Ravindra Jadeja delivery on his stumps because the bowler passed.

Labuschagne and Usman Khawaja then assembled a 96-run partnership that brought them to the brink of first-innings par with India.

However, India did not slow down. Jadeja in particular – the Marnus of India reviews – who enthusiastically convinced Rohit to send up appeals three times, only to have them dismissed each time.

As the old saying goes, fool me once, shame on Jadeja. Fool me twice, shame on Rohit. Fool me three times, shame on everyone involved in the whole DRS process. But, you know, mainly Jadeja.

On a positive note for Jadeja, however, he ended the first day with more wickets than burned reviews, ending with all four Australian wickets falling.

A mysterious lack of aggression

Class: C

Australia began day two in a desperate attempt to extend their lead.

Cameron Green and Peter Handscomb were slowly but surely approaching a 40-run partnership as commentators urged them to hit with more intent and speed up the scoring.

Why didn’t these Aussie batsmen score faster goals by playing the more aggressive shots they were pilloried for in the previous Test? Unfortunately, we may never know.

Eventually, however, Handscomb was fired by Ravi Ashwin, who was caught point-blank. The introduction of India’s fastest spinner through the air, Umesh Yadav, ended Green and the Heck as Australia lost 6/11 and went all-out with 197, an 88 lead in the first innings.

INDORE, INDIA - MARCH 1: Cheteshwar Pujara of India is bowled by Nathan Lyon of Australia during the first day of the third Test match in the series between India and Australia at Holkare Cricket Stadium on March 1, 2023 in Indore, India. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

Cheteshwar Pujara is bowled by Nathan Lyon. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

Joel Wilson’s Vendetta

Grade: B+

India struck a second time, unfortunately losing to Shubman Gill, who attempted to close the first inning deficit in one shot.

It was the first wicket to fall to Nathan Lyon but by no means the last as Lyon struggled hard against their opponents to take the spectacular numbers of 8/64 from 23.3 overs.

Of course, by “opposition” I mean primarily referee Joel Wilson, who continued his ongoing stance of never giving Nathan Lyon an LBW. That was true in Headingley in 2019 and it was also true in this test.

And fair enough too. Senseless vendettas are the lifeblood of Test cricket.

(And don’t you dare attack me with statistics that prove otherwise. Facts mean nothing. Vibes are everything.)

As India wormed their way to the top through superb innings from Cheteshwar Pujara, Australia struggled desperately to limit their pursuit in the fourth innings.

Again, they resorted to their annoying camouflage tactics that got behind reviews by blundering objections. A little fun once or twice guys yes but now it’s just boring and shameless.

I say give the batters a free hit every time a stumping appeal is denied. That’s the end of it.

(Alternatively, the square-leg referee could simply not issue the stumping appeal. Whatever works.)

However, just as India’s lead threatened to go beyond Australia’s reach, Smith took a stunning leg slip catch and dived to the right to catch an edge from Pujara low to the ground.

There was much talk leading up to the game that the captaincy would produce Smith’s best batting form. It was notable that he scored just 26 points in the first innings, instead showing his support for Pat Cummins’ lead.

But that catch, when he’d been a hopeless cordon sucker in the first two Tests, suggests Smith might be making a game for a longer-term lead.

jitter on the last day

Class: D

Smith’s classic catch ensured Australia only had to hunt 76 on the third and final day.

Still, most mathematicians agree that 76 is among the highest numbers ever, and as we went into the game of the day it felt both crazy and entirely justified that the outcome of this test wasn’t quite certain yet.

That feeling was reinforced when Khawaja lost the second ball of the day.

However, Head and Labuschagne consolidated and led Australia to a comfortable nine-wicket win.

It’s great to see the Australian batsmen have worked so hard over the past ten days on the moral blunders that cost them their wickets in the first two Tests. Joel Wilson's Lyon Vendetta, Jadeja goes full on Marnus and stealth caught behind critics

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