Aussies cop India’s ‘most savage sledge of all’
THE unspoken sledges - delivered by actions not words - are often the most savage of all.
When India's batsmen went crazy just after lunch on Sunday as their lead zoomed past 300 there were plenty of us in the press box who felt they had lost their heads chasing the scent of a rare offshore victory in Australia.
After all, it was 300, not 400 and there were almost five sessions left.
But India saw it differently.
They sensed they already had roughly enough to against a modest Australian batting line-up and were hurrying things up so they could have maximum overs to get Australia out.
That frantic hour, when Rishabh Pant took 18 in a Nathan Lyon over before India lost 5-25, looked like India's lid popping off its saucepan.
But it was actually an unspoken message to Australia that the last bastion of its domination left standing after the ball-tampering affair had all but vanished.
The hometown halo. The fortress. The intimidating aura that used to stretch from Perth to Brisbane and that feeling that when you play Australia in Australia, enough is never enough.
Maybe today Australia will pull off one of its most notable Test match run chases but if not, India will be thankful they were so bold even though they looked so reckless.
Remember the great old days when Australian teams on home soil only had to say "boo'' and you would hear opposition knees knocking.
These days Australian teams are not allowed to say boo but even if they were knees would not tremble.
The word's out. Australia lack the scare factor, even in their own backyard.
That they are as nervous as you are.
The collective swagger has been replacement by a certain stiffness of embodied by the efforts of Mitchell Starc and Aaron Finch.
For Finch not to review a catch to short leg when it seemed to miss his glove was a move which summed up Australia's insecurity.
Can you imagine Virat Kohli or Steve Smith in those circumstances?
They would have risked boned damage in their arm so firmly would they have made the review sign.
It was a surprise Finch even had to consult his partner Marcus Harris. He either hit it or he didn't.
Starc tidied up his figures at the end but something is not right with him.
If you thought the climate change debate was complex you weren't at the Adelaide Oval press box on Sunday to hear the theories about Starc.
Would you like a top four?
Starc was out of form because he has a scert injury, because his front ankle has not been the same since ankle surgery, because his wrist release has scrambled or because of the tenseness of being under pressure in a battling team has stopped him swinging the ball.
Swing bowlers need to be relaxed and he is anything but.
What is categorical is that according to CricViz, while Starc's speed on Sunday was sound, this year (141.20kph averages per ball) is the slowest he has bowled in a calendar year since 2013 and that he his ability to strike with the new ball has waned considerably.
Barring an extraordinary get-out-of-jail performance on the final day, Australia heads to Perth with major problems and few solutions.
There seems to be a cricket person on ever street corner who feels that Finch is not an opening batsmen and had not Ishant Sharma not no-balled, he would have been dismissed for a pair to the same ball, the inswinger.
Everyone - surely including the man himself - knew it was coming and still he could do nothing about it.
Every Test, ODI, T20I, and BBL match live & ad-break free during play. SIGN UP NOW!