Alex Carey under fire over 'soft as butter' moment against India

With the Aussies aiming for a mammoth total, Alex Carey's chance at runs on a good pitch went begging.

Alex Carey.
Alex Carey was dismissed for a duck after a poorly executed sweep shot in Australia's first innings. Pictures: Getty Images

Australia put together by far their biggest first innings total of the Test series against India, but Alex Carey's dismissal at a key moment soured the string start to the fourth Test for some. India will respond to a mammoth total of 480 thanks to centuries from Usman Khawaja and Cameron Green, but the likes fo Matthew Hayden believe it should have been more had Carey been more circumspect with his wicket.

Bowled out shortly before the end of day two, Australia had a brief crack at Indian openers Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill, who made it to stumps undefeated with the hosts at 0/36. While it was far from a disastrous innings for the visitors, former Australian opener Hayden said Carey's dismissal was 'soft as butter'.

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Carey came to the crease to join Khawaja after Green was eventually displaced by Ravichandran Ashwin, with Australia well placed at 5/378. Unfortunately for Carey though, the score remained unchanged as he departed back to the sheds after facing just four deliveries from Ashwin.

A clumsy slog-sweep attempt proved to be his undoing, top-edging it to Axar Patel at point after extending well outside his off-stump to reach the ball. Quick-fire runs could potentially have been the instruction for Carey, but playing an off-balance shot before even facing a full over is unlikely to have been part of Australia's strategy for their final recognised batter.

“That’s the hardest sweep shot to play, that one. It’s got the most risk because you’re fetching the ball for a start, playing right across the line," Hayden said of the shot Carey played.

"But when it’s outside your eye line, you’ve got less control. The safest shot is always to go much squarer.”

Carey's batting has already come under scrutiny this series, albeit on pitches that have proven demonstrably more difficult for players of both sides to handle. The 31-year-old has already defended his use of the sweep shot this series, despite scores of 36, 10, 0, 7 and 3 leading up to the finale.

“In India, if you change your method too much, it goes pretty quickly. I’ll continue to be positive over here,” he said. “We’ve all got different methods and, internally, we live with that. So looking forward to another opportunity in Ahmedabad and get down and maybe get the broom out again.”

Aussies in commanding position after mammoth first innings

Usman Khawaja has elevated his already strong form in India to another level in the fourth Test, combining with Cameron Green for Australia's highest partnership in India in 44 years. Khawaja, who has arguably been Australia's most consistent player in the series, was eventually dismissed for 180 by Axar Patel.

While the dismissal of Khawaja was something of an anticlimax for Aussie fans hoping to see him reach a double century after coming close against South Africa earlier this year, he and Green still combined to put Australia in a strong position as India continues their first innings on day three. The pair fell agonisingly short of Kim Hughes and Allan Border's record stand of 222 back in 1979, with Green (114) and Khawaja combining for a 208-run fifth wicket partnership.

While they were short of the outright record, they nevertheless beat another mark set by Hughes in that same series, eclipsing the 206-run partnership with Graham Yallop in Kolkata. Those two, combined with an impressive tail-end stand from Todd Murphy (41) and Nathan Lyon (34), helped Australia reach a handy first innings total of 480.

Ravichandran Ashwin took the 32nd five-wicket haul of his career to help dismiss Australia for 480 in their first innings. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
Ravichandran Ashwin took the 32nd five-wicket haul of his career to help dismiss Australia for 480 in their first innings. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

After a low scoring series which has seen the previous three matches wrapped up within three days, the fourth Test appears destined to go the distance on the most batsman-friendly pitch of the series. Despite having less assistance from the pitch, Ashwin turned in an impressively consistent effort to pick up his 32nd career five-wicket haul.

While much attention was placed on Khawaja's mammoth innings, Green's own century was not to be overlooked. Green credited Khawaja for being a highly-regarded veteran presence in the Australia camp.

"With Uzzy, he's an experienced head who's played Test cricket for more than 10 years now," Green said. "He's so valuable for guys like myself and a few of the young guys in the team the way he goes about it.

"I'm trying to learn as much as I can off him, and, luckily enough, there are a lot of guys in the change rooms like that."

with AAP

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