Hazlewood, having enjoyed his eighth career five-wicket haul, was asked if he had ever had a more perfect day of bowling.
“I don’t think so, no. Everything went to plan. I think what Patty [Cummins] has done was unbelievable. To knock over two big wickets [Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara] set the tone and I just followed suit,” Hazlewood said on Fox Cricket.
Pin-up boy Cummins swung momentum in the home team’s favour when he dismissed nightwatchman Jasprit Bumrah in the second over of the afternoon, when the batsman pushed forward and bunted a regulation return catch. But few would have predicted what came next as the tourists at one point lost 5-4 off 36 balls, those runs coming from a Kohli edge.
Cheteshwar Pujara became the new wall Australia could not climb two years ago and he again batted for time in a first-innings 43. But there was no stopping the Cummins train, this time the man considered the world’s best fast bowler by Shane Warne delivering a “peach” of a delivery which angled in slightly to Pujara and just left him, catching a nick before the batsman had scored.
Having slumped to 3-15, Kohli needed to deliver in his final innings of the tour before heading home for the birth of his first child.
Hazlewood, having replaced Mitchell Starc, then joined the party, his first delivery forcing opener Mayank Agarwal to play and nick off to Tim Paine. Agarwal has an expansive back lift, which could see him struggle to handle Australia’s quicks this summer.
Indian vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane was the next to fall, pushing outside off stump four deliveries later and was caught behind. In the blink of an eye, the tourists had lost 4-6.
The prized wicket of Kohli was still to be had, and Cummins continued his strong record against the Indian master. The Australians like to attack Kohli just outside off stump, sensing the strokemaker cannot resist driving, and that’s what he did when he pushed on the front foot, only to be caught at gully by debutant Cameron Green.
The ball initially smacked into Green’s arm but, tumbling to his left, he was able to maintain his composure and cup it. The umpire’s soft signal was out but the decision went to a video replay, which confirmed the ball had not touched the turf. It was Green’s first catch in his Test career – and one he won’t ever forget.
“He is now my favourite, love him,” Cummins said of his new teammate.
Kohli had initially walked but then waited for video confirmation.
“It’s all happening. He has taken his first catch. There is a bit drama about it all. Virat Kohli knew. As soon as he got called initially, he walked off,” former Australian captain Allan Border said on Fox Cricket.
“As a batsman, you generally know that has been taken cleanly. If you have got any doubt at all, you stand there.”
Former Indian captain Sunil Gavaskar said there had been “very little that the Indians have done wrong”.
“It’s been splendid bowling by the Australians – much fuller length, mixed up with the odd short delivery, around the off stump. The Indian batsmen have been just that little bit tentative, but the bowling has been tremendous,” Gavaskar said on Channel Seven.
On a day of drama, Cummins, in his 31st Test, became the equal-second quickest Australian to 150 Test wickets, joining Warne and Stuart MacGill, and behind only Clarrie Grimmett (28).
It was then over to Hazlewood for more torture, who found himself on a hat-trick when he had Wriddhiman Saha snapped up by Marnus Labuschagne at mid-wicket, and then Ravi Ashwin caught behind. Umesh Yadav survived the milestone ball but Hazlewood, now with his 200th wicket, was given a standing ovation.
The tourists faced the prospect of even failing to surpass the lowest Test score in history of just 26 but managed to eke out enough runs to avoid that embarrassment.
Hazlewood wasn’t done with, and when he had Hanuma Vihari caught behind, the big quick had taken 5-8, with Paine enjoying five catches in a Test innings for the third time.
Cummins added more insult when he hit Shami flush on the underside of his right arm with a short ball that followed the Indian tailender. Shami required treatment but resumed batting.
Jon Pierik is cricket writer for The Age. He also covers AFL and has won awards for his cricket and basketball writing.