Marcus Harris and Aaron Finch stitched a fifty-plus opening stand on a green, pacy wicket in the Perth Test against India on Friday, giving the Australian cricket team plenty to cheer in what has been an abysmal 2018 for them. The partnership went past fifty when Harris, playing in only his second Test, cut Umesh Yadav to the deep backward point fence as Australia registered a fifty-plus opening wicket stand for only the sixth time in eight Tests. Ever since the departure of David Warner due to the ball-tampering scandal in the Cape Town Test, Australia have managed just two fifty-plus stands in four Tests.
In eight Tests in 2018, Australia has stitched four fifty stands and one century stand for the opening wicket. Cameron Bancroft, who was also banned for nine months for his role in the scandal, shared a 56-run stand for the opening wicket against South Africa in the Durban Test which ultimately became Australia’s last win. In the Port Elizabeth Test, Bancroft and Warner shared a 98-run stand but the Aussies lost the Test thanks to a 10-wicket haul from Kagiso Rabada.
In the scandal-tainted Cape Town Test, Bancroft and Warner did share a 57-run stand for the opening wicket at a time when the ball-tampering furor had reached fever pitch. Following the bans on Bancroft, Warner and Steve Smith, Joe Burns and Matt Renshaw became the new opening pair in the Johannesburg Test but they failed as Australia lost the match by 492 runs.
In the Dubai Test, Australia finally hit their straps when the new opening pair of Finch and Usman Khawaja stole the show with solid stands in the Dubai Test against Pakistan. In the first innings, they shared Australia’s only century opening stand when they smashed a 142-run opening stand. In the second innings, they followed it up with a gritty 87-run partnership as Australia registered a thrilling draw.
In Adelaide, Finch was out in the first over to Ishant Sharma for 0 while in the second innings, he fell for 11. Harris looked solid but was out for 26 in both innings as Australia lost the Test by 31 runs. Tim Paine’s side would be hoping to win a series trailing 0-1 at home for the first time since 1968/69, when they won the series 3-1 against West Indies after losing the first game.