As heartening as it was to see India wrap up a commanding innings victory well inside four days, I must say I was extremely disappointed by Australia’s meek surrender in the second Test.
Having been involved in several battles with the Australians over the years, I can state emphatically that their cricket has always been characterised by a fighting spirit that makes them dangerous opponents. To therefore see an Australian team roll over in the manner in which they did in the second innings came as a surprise to me.
India got just about everything right, apart from the toss, while the spin of the coin was the only thing that went in Australia’s favour. Of course, they didn’t help their cause any by making some strange decisions.
I can’t understand the logic behind leaving out Nathan Lyon, their primary spinner for the last two years. He has shouldered the responsibility of holding one end up manfully in Australian conditions and providing vital breakthroughs on pitches that haven’t had much in them.
Lyon would have relished bowling on a regular basis in India, on pitches that would have helped him.
The Australian top order need to mix caution with aggression. They need to study the conditions and bounce of the wicket and adjust their shot selection accordingly.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, Australia’s best batsman continued to bat lower than where he should. It’s not being wise after the event; even before the start of the Test, I had suggested that Australia would be better off with the captain batting at 4.
Why you would continue to want to come in under such pressure, especially when the top four hasn’t shown too much nous against the turning ball, is baffling. Clarke has since said that he will move up in the next two games, but it seems too late in the day.
Coming to India, I was particularly delighted at the victory having been fashioned by the youngsters. Several of them are in the very early stages of their careers. To not just be a part of an Indian win, but to have played a key role in it, will do wonders for their confidence.
The future holds promise, especially if Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara, R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja continue to build on the wonderful starts to their Test career. I would have been even happier if Ojha was part of these two great victories.
He is the best left arm spinner we have and along with Ashwin played a key role in the earlier Test series. We must find a way to make our best spinners find a place in the XI.
Bhuvneshwar impressed me with his ability to bowl long spells. On the opening day, there was a little bit of help and he stuck to his task manfully in extreme heat, bowling nine overs and picking up three wickets.
It was nice to see an Indian medium-pacer stick to his strengths and reap the rewards on an Indian pitch. He will be even more of a threat when India travel overseas, where he will get greater encouragement in terms of swing and bounce.
No praise can be too high for the manner in which Pujara and Murali Vijay batted. There was a plan, purpose and maturity in the way they went about their job.
The first session on day two was crucial, and they played it out with patience, scoring only 49 runs. The reward for hard work came later on, and both were good enough to cash in. Pujara has made it a habit to bat long and score big.
Two double hundreds in just 11 Tests reflects his hunger and appetite for big scores. Long may those traits continue.
This was a big innings for Vijay in many ways. He had played loosely in Chennai in both innings and must have felt some pressure, but the way in which he curbed his natural attacking instincts and batted keeping the team’s requirements in mind was commendable.
Pujara and Vijay tilted the match decisively India’s way with their 370-run partnership, the fourth highest in Indian Test history. I am glad some of the records of the past are being obliterated because that’s the best sign that a team is moving forward.
Once India had such a massive lead, the outcome was a bit of a formality though the rapidity with which Australia capitulated must have taken even MS and his boys by surprise.
Statistically speaking, MS’ 22nd win as Test captain took him past Sourav as India’s most successful skipper. Congratulations, MS and the team! Celebrate the success, but come back fresh and focused for Mohali. After all, the series is still not over yet.
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