ADELAIDE, December 2 (Reuters): England captain Joe Root was no doubt mindful of recent history at Adelaide Oval when he sent Australia in to bat on winning the toss in the second Ashes test on Saturday.
In the two previous day-night tests, the visiting team won the toss – New Zealand in 2015 and South Africa last year – decided to bat and eventually succumbed to defeat against Australia.
So one could hardly blame Root for opting for a different path, but that will not stop the Sunday morning quarterbacks from second-guessing his decision, which somewhat backfired when his opening bowlers James Anderson and Stuart Broad wasted the new ball, though the day was not a complete disaster, with Australia 209 for four wickets at stumps.
England’s test debutant Craig Overton, who was not used early but later in the day bowled Australian captain Steve Smith for 40, acknowledged the early going was a tough slog for the visitors.
“Overcast skies, a bit of moisture around,” he said, when asked the thought process behind sending Australia in.
“Obviously, the first session didn’t go to plan but … they’re not too far ahead of the game.”
Australian number three Usman Khawaja was not surprised by Root’s decision.
“I had a feeling they might bowl first,” Khawaja said after making 53. “It was overcast, day one, pink ball, their bowlers do thrive in these conditions but at end of the day whatever you do first you have to do it well.
“I think we’re pretty happy with four to 200 at the end of the day.”
Anderson and Broad posed few problems for Australian opening batsmen David Warner and Cameron Bancroft early on.
With 899 test wickets between them, they rarely looked like making it 900 as they sent down too many short deliveries with the pink ball which passed through harmlessly to the wicketkeeper during the early stages.
Broad lasted just three overs in his first spell before being replaced by Chris Woakes.
It was a far cry from the second Adelaide test seven years ago, when England reduced Australia to three wickets for two en route to a decisive victory.
Anderson collected the prized scalps of Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke back then, taking 4-51 in the first innings.
It was a different story on Saturday but by day’s end Root could surely defend his decision to bowl.
Cricinfo last year calculated that since 2000 the side batting first have won 36 percent of those tests, the side bowling first 39 percent.
The odds swung had swung slightly in Australia’s favour by stumps, but not by much.