Cricket

More questions than answers

CARRYING THE BURDEN: Virat Kohli is someone who relishes the authority aswell as the responsibility that comes with it. He has the onerous task ofputting the pieces together and spearheading the Indian team’s march.

CARRYING THE BURDEN: Virat Kohli is someone who relishes the authority aswell as the responsibility that comes with it. He has the onerous task ofputting the pieces together and spearheading the Indian team’s march.   | Photo Credit: Andy Brownbill

CRICKET: India could have done better in conditions similar to those at home

As the crowd melted at the SCG and the dust settled on a hard-fought series, India was left wondering how to put the pieces together away from the sub-continent.

If the batsmen, finally, were among the runs, the bowling was awry. And if the attack managed to build some pressure, catches were put down. When it really mattered in the second innings at the Gabba, the Indian batsmen came unstuck.

The arms of this Indian team did not move in cohesion.

Bizzare captaincy

To top it all, some of the captaincy was bizarre, both from M.S. Dhoni and Virat Kohli.

Still, a 2-0 scoreline in a four-Test series down under is not the worst result. The battling draws in Melbourne and here earned the Indians some appreciation from the Australia media and public.

Yet, looking back, India could have done a lot better in the series.

Particularly, when three of the four surfaces where the Tests were held in the series — in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney — could have been straight out of the sub-continent.

Only the pitch at the Gabba appeared an Australian wicket. The other three, apart from the early phase in Melbourne, were slow turners.

It was almost as if Australia was preparing surfaces for Nathan Lyon.

This was a series of miles and milestones for Virat Kohli. His commitment and bat-speed are his strengths. He relishes the sniff of a duel but should not get distracted by words from the opposition.

Selection error

Kohli’s captaincy has to mature. If he blundered by picking Karn Sharma over R. Ashwin in Adelaide — particularly when he asked the Indian pacemen to bowl round the wicket and create the rough — Kohli also made a mistake by not asking his men to shut shop in the first Test after the opportunity for a win was gone.

At the SCG, even he seemed to appreciate the merits of a draw. Actually, a draw in the first Test could have altered the dynamics of the series.

There were times in the fourth Test when his field placements were not in keeping with the demands of the situations.

Even if the field was attacking on occasions, India’s intent was defensive. The side should have played a second spinner for an extra batsman at the SCG.

Kohli is young and he will learn. His desire to excel in any role that he is given is immense. And he seems to enjoy the responsibility that comes with the territory of being India captain.

In Murali Vijay and K.L. Rahul, India might have found an opening pair with great possibilities.

His technique and mind in order, Vijay was impressive at the top of the order. Rahul’s elegant and composed hundred at the SCG bristled with promise.

Rahane impresses

The light-footed Ajinkya Rahane had a wonderful series in the middle-order but Cheteshwar Pujara has to sort out technical issues. Is Rohit Sharma, brilliant one moment and disappointing the next, the answer at no. 3?

The think-tank has to back Pujara to overcome this phase.

Even if R. Ashwin did make his presence felt on occasions, the off-spinner has to evolve.

Perhaps, Ashwin was let-down by lack of support from the other end. India has to bowl in partnerships to create the pressure.

Ishant Sharma bowled well without luck but the likes of Varun Aaron, Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami have to back their pace with precision.

India’s prolonged use of short-pitched bowling in the second and third Tests when it had opportunities to assume control was baffling.

With captain M.S. Dhoni putting down his Test cap in the middle, it was a tour of more questions than answers.





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Printable version | Mar 31, 2020 2:05:37 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/india-australia-test-series-more-questions-than-answers/article6778059.ece

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