The Indians need to work out a strategy to salvage the remaining games and play with immense self-belief
The Sydney Test has virtually snuffed out the Indian dream of a series win in Australia and India's nightmarish overseas record continues with no end in sight.
The team has lost six Tests in a row — four in England, two in Australia — and the prospect of another ‘whitewash' looms large as India goes into the third Test at Perth, which will be followed by the fourth at Adelaide. A lot of excuses were given after the debacle in England, such as lack of preparation, getting acclimatised and injuries to key players. No such excuses were available after the Sydney disaster.
Chairman of selectors K. Srikkanth lamented in a television interview that “it was inexcusable”. The freshly patched up Australian team under a rather raw skipper, Michael Clarke, who led by example, dealt India a demoralising defeat. The earlier performance at Melbourne, despite the loss, was encouraging in one aspect: the bowlers seemed effective and had done their job. At Sydney, however, India was simply blown away. A batting collapse, which is now a regular feature, was compounded by dismal bowling that allowed the Aussies to pile up a near 500-run first innings lead and that shut out India's escape route. Clarke simply buried the insipid Indian attack with his triple hundred and joining him in the run fest were Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey, who scored a century each.
The only consolation for India in the second innings was Gautam Gambhir's return to form, while Virender Sehwag and Rahul Dravid faltered yet again. Sachin Tendulkar and V.V.S. Laxman scored runs , but failed to build big scores. The Sydney Cricket Ground was supposed to be a favourite ground for Tendulkar, yet he missed the hundredth century.No one really expected an epic turnaround that India made in Kolkata nine years ago, but at least a draw was an honourable possibility given its much-hailed batting line-up.
For too long, the onus has always been on the trio of Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman to bail out the team in a crisis. But it is inhuman to expect these veterans in the sunset of their careers to come up with game-changing knocks each and every time. The talk of resting the seniors and fielding a new crop also makes little sense at this stage as none of the youngsters, has shown that they are ‘Test class'. In bowling, Zaheer Khan was short on support, while Ishant Sharma was clearly unlucky. Umesh Yadav is still raw and R. Ashwin made little impact.
Skipper M.S. Dhoni and coach Duncan Fletcher also need to share the blame. They did little of note and Dhoni seemed at a loss at the second day of the Sydney Test. Dhoni's bowling changes and field placement were perplexing making one feel that he is better off as an One-Day International skipper.
The Indians need to go back to the drawing board and work out a strategy to salvage the remaining games. They need to shake off the hangover of Sydney and play with clear purpose, good strategy and immense self-belief. Will they do it?
Keywords: India's tour of Australia