India’s fielders will be bitterly ruing three missed opportunities to remove Australian batsman Marnus Labuschagne during the first Test match at Adelaide Oval.
The Australian No. 3 is renowned for enjoying lengthy spells at the crease, and dominated touring sides last summer with four centuries in five Test matches.
But India somehow botched three chances to send Labuschagne back to the sheds on Friday afternoon, which could prove decisive moments in the series opener.
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After paceman Jasprit Bumrah dismissed both of Australia’s opening batsmen cheaply, he found the outside edge of Labuschagne’s bat on his second delivery at the crease.
The pink ball flew towards the slip cordon, but evaded the outstretched glove of Indian wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha.
It was by no means a regulation catch, and Saha could be forgiven for missing the tough opportunity behind the stumps.
However, the same could not be said for India’s following two dropped catches.
Marnus Labuschagne of Australia.Source:Getty Images
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Just before the tea break, paceman Mohammad Shami fired in a short ball to Labuschagne (12 not out), who hooked the bouncer towards fine leg.
Bumrah sprinted along the boundary rope, but fumbled the catch after unnecessarily jumping in the air like an AFL tall forward inside 50.
The ball fell onto the turf and rolled over the boundary rope, prompting a wild reaction from the Adelaide crowd.
“He didn’t have to do that,” former Australian Test captain Allan Border said on Fox Cricket.
“He must have thought he was closer to the rope than he actually was. He went for the big leap, and didn’t have to.”
Bumrah fielding in T20 mode there. So anxious about the rope and the flick back that he drops a catch he should have taken. #AUSvIND
Was Jasprit going up for a chest mark to take that catch?#AUSvIND
Did Bumrah think he was closer to the rope than he actually was? What an odd – and possibly costly – spill. #AUSvIND
Unfortunately for the tourists, India’s fielding didn’t improve after the tea break.
Bumrah attempted a short delivery in the 23rd over of Australia’s innings, which Labuschagne (21 not out) looked to pull through square leg.
The top edge flew towards Prithvi Shaw on the ring, who spilled another regulation chance above his head.
Although the sun was potentially in his eyes, it would be difficult for his teammates to pardon the ugly dropped catch.
“Unbelievable — three chances for Labuschagne already,” former Test player Michael Hussey said on Fox Cricket.
“That’s another big miss for India … how much is that going to cost India?”
Former England representative Isa Guha replied: “India can only blame themselves.”
ANOTHER chance for Marnus! #AUSvIND pic.twitter.com/zl25xRJjIX
Pathetic drop by Prithvi Shaw… two chances for @marnus3cricket now.#INDvAUS
Shaw is facing plenty of scrutiny after he was dismissed for a second-ball duck on Thursday afternoon, and his fielding blunder certainly won’t help his cause.
Labuschagne survived a chaotic passage of play to remain 39 not out after 37 overs, but the rest of Australia’s top order crumbled on Friday afternoon.
Superstar batsman Steve Smith was removed by Indian tweaker Ravi Ashwin for one, his lowest score in Test cricket since 2016.
Meanwhile, South Australian batsman Travis Head was also dismissed cheaply in Adelaide, chipping a simple catch back to Ashwin for seven.
Australia are 4/69 after 37 overs, still trailing by 175 runs.
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