Sydney: In the 129 years since the SCG hosted its first Test, batsmen's lives have been made infinitely easier. Pitches are now covered. Boundaries have been shortened by ropes. Helmets have allowed batsmen to hook with impunity, and they do so with heavier bats. It is to the credit of the bowlers that the contest between bat and ball remains gripping. So it was on the first day of this match, as James Pattinson and his Australian colleagues, and then Zaheer Khan for India, dominated proceedings.
By stumps on the opening day of the SCG's hundredth Test, 13 wickets had tumbled - more than the 11 that fell on the first day of Test cricket at the ground back in 1882. India's captain MS Dhoni chose to bat on a pitch that featured some grass, but his batsmen didn't back him up. Dhoni was the only man to score a half-century in India's innings of 191, which ended soon after tea, and it was the wrong way for India to start a Test in which they needed victory to retain a chance of winning the series.