CricViz Analysis: Australia v India, First Test, Day Five

Freddie Wilde’s analytical notes from day five at the Adelaide Oval.


At the start of day five India had 31 overs remaining with the old ball. With less seam and swing on offer India’s use of the short ball was notable. On day four India’s quicks only bowled four bouncers but before the new ball on day five they bowled 13, using it as a weapon to keep Australia’s batsmen in their crease and most significantly bringing them the wickets of Travis Head.

Ishant Sharma’s bouncer to Head was a brute of delivery. After a sequence of fuller balls the bouncer was an effort ball—139.63 kph, two kph faster than the previous ball and above his match average. The way Ishant pulled his fingers down the left hand side of the ball caused the delivery to rear up from a length. The key though was the tight line: the ball cramped Head for room and gave him nowhere to hide.


After the early wicket of Head the dismissal of Shaun Marsh later in the session dealt a huge blow to Australia’s hopes. Marsh had batted with admirable control and it was fitting that it took a brilliant piece of bowling from Bumrah to prise him from the wicket. An over of tight off stump deliveries set Marsh up before the wicket-ball swung away by 0.73° and nibbled by 0.25° away off the seam to take the edge of Marsh’s defensive push. 


After Ashwin’s struggles on his previous tours of Australia his returns in this match, collecting 6 for 149 at an economy rate of just 1.71 represent an enormous improvement. Perhaps as encouraging as his figures was the manner of success which has come from bowling notably slower than on the last tour, suggesting he’s made a big effort to adjust his method to turn his fortunes around. In addition to that Ashwin’s success primarily came against Australia’s top order – five of his six wickets were top four batsmen. 

On day five – although Ashwin remained very economical – he only took one wicket and was unable to seize the match in the manner that a turning pitch suggested he might. Criticism should be tempered though. 

Ashwin maintained the slower speeds that brought him success in the second innings and to the right-handers managed to hit the footmarks outside off stump with 42% of his deliveries, only slightly fewer than Lyon’s 48%. The day five pitch may have helped but by the measure of false shots he improved on his first innings performance from 12% to 15%. 

Admittedly, at times his approach appeared a little erratic—he changed his angle to the left-handers Marsh and Head four times in five overs in the morning session and he appeared less willing than Lyon to consistently aim for the footmark to the right-hander. At times it seems as if Ashwin lacks the patience that bowling off spin in Australia requires.

Yet despite these minor issues he maintained an exceptional economy rate of 1.74 runs per over throughout the innings. At the very least Ashwin fulfilled the role of a holding bowler to perfection, throw in his six wickets and this Test marks significant progress.


India had waited ten years for a Test win in Australia and in an absorbing afternoon session Australia’s lower order made them wait just a little bit longer. When Marsh was dismissed Australia were still 167 runs adrift of their target and a heavy defeat was looming but it was not until the afternoon session, scheduled to end at 4.10 had been extended by half an hour that Australia finally subsided when Josh Hazlewood was the last man out with Australia just 31 runs shy of their target. Australia’s last four wickets had endured 48.4 overs and their last three wickets 35.4 overs. 

India did not bowl terribly to Australia’s lower-order—they maintained the excellent lines they’d hit throughout the Test but analysis of their lengths relative to the strengths of Australia’s bottom four suggested poor planning. Most clearly, Cummins, Starc and Lyon are all relatively strong against the short ball but India’s quicks bowled a large proportion of short balls to all three of them and certainly didn’t bowl enough full deliveries to Lyon. 

Australia deserve enormous credit though. Cummins, Starc, Lyon and Hazlewood are very strong lower order batsmen with excellent defensive games and could have frustrated many attacks. They had their fair share of luck though—their 22% false shots was well above the global average of 12%. 

Australia may still be searching for their first win under Tim Paine’s captaincy but their fourth innings batting in Dubai (139.5 overs) & now in Adelaide (119.5 overs) are better examples of so-called ‘tough Australian cricket’ than any number of sledges or send-offs.

For India, on the one hand the way Australia’s lower order hung on for so long is a concern and continues their worrying trend of being unable to clean up the tail but on the other it underlines how hard it is to win away Tests—especially in Australia—& that should help guard against complacency in Perth.

Freddie Wilde is a CricViz analyst. @fwildecricket

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4 replies
  1. H P
    H P says:

    Wonderful Analysis by the Cricket Connoisseurs for the people who love the game.

    Ashwin tried many lines and lengths. If Ashwin had taken cue from Lyon , and kept on hitting that patch (with lots of revolutions), he would have had a similar purchase. Ashwin is not patient as he appears – Last day of the Test match , for spinners , is their D-day , and Ashwin failed. Fast bowlers’ performance and India’s win saved Ashwin from shame.

    In SA too , he and Jadeja failed India.

    And Hope the pacers bowl Full to the Aussie tail in their next outing.

  2. Akash
    Akash says:

    I agree that Ashwin Played the role of containing bowler well on last day. But it’s LAST DAY: DAY 5–Indeed a D-Day for spinners as “H P” mentioned. He just wasn’t consistent enough to hit the patch. He doesn’t give over spin to ball which means he doesn’t get the bounce that Lyon does. So least that he should have done was keep hitting that patch… I’m actually amazed that he hit it 42% compared to 48% of Lyon. TV coverage showed a heat map and Lyon heat map was totally centred around patch so much so I wondered if patch was caused by his accuracy rather than bowlers footsteps. More rough must have helped Ashwin % Numbers. Personally I am very disappointed by Ashwin performance today(not first 4 days). He was really poor in terms of his accuracy. Thankfully for us, Bumrah and co. were very good. Hopefully Ashwin will be better in next test for all 5 days(both innings more precisely) and not just first 4 days(1.5 innings of bowling).
    Still buzzing for our win. #ComeOnIndia

  3. Sathya Moorthy
    Sathya Moorthy says:

    Virat had a bit of analysis, too.

    “Their tail is in the top three when it comes to lower-order averages in the past couple of years.”
    – Virat

  4. Vivek Shankar
    Vivek Shankar says:

    Since when is the economy rate of a bowler a major statistic in a test match? That too, a spinner bowling on a day 5 wicket right after his counterpart has taken 6 in an innings?

    Some serious sweeping under the carpet here when it comes to Ashwin.

    A suggestion regarding the angle of swing in Bumrah’s section; It would illustrate Marsh’s difficulty better if instead of degrees of swing, you measure the deviation as the distance from the path the ball would have taken if it didn’t swing. The degree of swing and seam movement doesn’t translate exactly because it doesn’t take into account where the ball has pitched.

    Nice article though overall.


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