Australia's cricketing enigma Shaun Marsh once more finds himself battling to save his career after a dreadful dismissal in the first Test against India.
Marsh gave his detractors further ammunition when he fell for two, bowled by Ravichandran Ashwin while attempting to drive a wide-pitched delivery but dragging it onto his stumps, in the first over after lunch on Friday.
It is the fifth time India's ace offspinner has claimed Marsh's scalp in Test cricket.
His wicket left Australia 3-59 on day two in response to India's 250, a position improved to 7-191 at stumps by Travis Head's determined unbeaten 61.
Thrust into the role of senior batsman alongside Usman Khawaja in the absence of Steve Smith and David Warner, Marsh had tuned up for the series with scores of 80, 98, 163 not out and 81 among six Sheffield Shield innings.
But his cheap dismissal at Adelaide Oval, which is certain to embolden his many and vocal critics, reinforces the enormous and frustrating gulf between his best and worst.
The left-hander's highest score from his past 13 Test innings is 40 and his six consecutive single-figure scores are the most for any Australian batting in the top five since 1888.
A nervous starter beyond compare, Marsh averages almost 60 when he passes 10 but a remarkable 26 of his 60 Test dismissals - including eight this year - have been in single figures.
He struck career-best form last summer, scoring a man-of-the-match century that delivered Australia a 2-0 series lead and plundering more Ashes runs than anyone bar Steve Smith.
But he was a non-factor in South Africa and made just 14 runs at an average of 3.5 in the two-Test series against Pakistan in the UAE in October.
Debutant Marcus Harris, who spent several years playing alongside Marsh for Western Australia before defecting to Victoria, is confident the veteran can bounce back.
"I think you've seen from the way Shaun bats that he's a different level of player," Harris said.
"I assume he's upset with the way he went but it's only one innings of the first Test of the whole summer.
"Shaun's a class player so he'll be all good."
Marsh's younger brother Mitch, himself struggling for form and dropped in Adelaide, is the only other batsman in the 14-man squad for the first two Tests.
However a continued run of poor form would put selectors under enormous pressure to replace Marsh later in the series from a list of candidates at Shield level including Joe Burns, Matthew Renshaw and Glenn Maxwell.
Australian Associated Press