Cameron Green’s Stock Continues to Rise in India With Maiden Test Century

It took Cameron Green just two innings to hit his maiden hundred on Indian soil. Only Matthew Hayden, Michael Clarke and Michael Hussey are the recent Aussies who scored a hundred in their first innings in India. Hayden scored 119 in the Wankhede Test in 2001, Clarke, on debut, hit 151 in the 2004 Bengaluru Test and Hussey’s 146 came in the 2008 Bengaluru Test.

Still, early days in the whites but Green has ticked the crucial boxes and has added a hundred on Indian soil to his fifties in the away series against Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Not many overseas batters have made an immediate impact in India. Even standing captain Steve Smith took five innings before reaching the three-figure mark in India and former Australia great Ricky Ponting got the opportunity to remove his helmet only in the 15th Test innings.

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It’s a challenging place to bat in and the challenge multiplied when the hosts rolled out raging turners for the first three Tests. Unlike his teammates, Green, who missed the first two fixtures with an injury, didn’t have many ghosts of the past to deal with as he had only one hit in the Indore Test. And he looked solid in that morning session on Day 2 with Peter Handscomb.

Many were keeping a close eye on Green and how he would perform in these conditions as he lends a lot of balance to the side with both bat and ball. His inclusion allowed Smith to have five bowling options in both Indore and the ongoing Ahmedabad Test. The strip at Motera was the flattest of the four we have seen in the series so far but run-scoring wasn’t an easy affair. India stuck to tight lines even when nothing was happening off the surface or in the air. But Green picked his moments and bowlers and stuck to his strengths in a very fluent century.

Driving licence

It is refreshing to see the cover drive as the most productive shot for a batter. In a series where sweeps, flicks and pushes to mid-on have done the bulk of the scoring, the Ahmedabad strip allowed the batters to operate in the conventional V.

56 of Green’s 114 came between covers and long-off and he collected as many as eight boundaries in the region. The cover drive was the most productive shot as it earned him 37 runs with an astounding control percentage.

After huff and puff of the dusty surfaces, the crunching sound of the ball meeting the blade finally returned when Green creamed deliveries beautifully off the front foot. He was severe on anything full outside off and was predominantly on the front foot right through his innings.

As his first instinct was to come forward, the right-hander got into good positions for the drives and brilliant extension of the arms, with a dominant bottom hand, allowed him to get immense power. Umesh Yadav was on the receiving end of most of the damage as the experienced speedster was taken for plenty by the young Aussie. To be clear, Umesh missed his lengths far too often against Green who was in no mood to shoulder arms to looseners.

The new-ball damage

The game was nicely balanced on the opening day when India struck in quick succession to remove both Steve Smith and Peter Handscomb. The hosts had their tails up but Green shouldered the responsibility with Usman Khawaja and scored at a brisk clip. He completely changed the complexion of the game with that little cameo against the second new-ball which saw India leak 54 runs in the last nine overs of the day.

As bowling coach Paras Mhambrey accepted at the end of the day’s play, India allowed the game to drift with that spell and conceded far too many.

“The wicket is good to bat on. The runs were difficult to score against the old ball. We allowed the game to drift with the second new ball. We gave some extra runs with the second new ball,” Mhambrey said on Thursday.

Stocks on the rise in India

Well before this series, Green’s stock has been on the ascendancy in India. He did well in the few outings in the limited-overs and became the talk of the nation when Mumbai Indians decided to spend Rs 17.5 crores at the IPL mini-auction in Kochi late last year.

After getting his man, Mumbai Indians owner Akash Ambani was in no mood to hide his excitement and kept pacing up and down in the press-conference area moments after raising the paddle for the winning bid. The most successful IPL team went hard for the Aussie all-rounder and secured his services for the second-highest price tag ever in the competition’s history. Ever since Kieron Pollard announced retirement, MI needed a player in his mould and Green was the perfect match.

“Cameron Green fits our profile. We thought he was exactly what we needed. We were looking at players on the younger side. In the last two auctions, we’ve deliberately picked players that are younger and give us some more lifetime value,” Ambani had said after the bid.

A controversial word in this part of the world but Green is a three-dimensional player and brings a lot to the table, in any format, in all three departments. Quick reminder: he is just 23.

For now, Australia would hope he does some magic with the ball since it’s going to be a long toil under the unforgiving sun on a very flat surface.

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