Monday, January 2, 2012

Preview, 2nd Test Australia versus India, SCG

As the 2nd Test is on our doorstep, the immortal Glenn McGrath as part of the promotion of the game claimed without hesitation that India would be whitewashed 4 nil in the series. The struggles of the revered Indian batting in the face of Australia's accomplished fast bowling made you buy into this a bit making you question whether the tourists can find a way back into the series


The 100th Test match at the iconic Sydney Cricket Ground will answer whether the 1st Test has set the mould for the whole series or conversely that it was merely a freak result.


Duly lets look at the game further


Australia


Likely Team


The main debate going on before this Test was whether the Australians should try to further exploit what was an obvious weakness for India in the first Test against pace by including a 4th quick in Ryan Harris.This would have meant the sacrificing of the off spinner Nathan Lyons off spin which was impotent in the first Test. Thankfully for Team balance, and with the excellent performances of Lyon so far in his career the Selectors have resisted this temptation. Making the team the same as it was in Melbourne.


Warner, Cowan, Marsh, Ponting, Clarke, Hussey, Haddin, Pattinson, Siddle, Lyon, Hilhenhaus


The Key for Australia to WIn


There is little doubt the performance was awe inspiring in Melbourne making the hard core fans talk up Australia's resurgence in the game 


Looking through objective eyes you give applause for that display, but you step back from having full belief in them in the knowledge of the Team  inconsistency of the last two years. If you want proof of this just look back to the recent series against New Zealand where they were stellar in the 1st Test, but somehow lost to the same opposition without its best player in the Team in the 2nd Test.


The key to success in this game is not only replicating the performance from Melbourne, but indeed improving on it. This in the face of an expected Indian fight back in this game and also a batting display from the 1st Test that was symbolised by the fragility that has plagued Australia for a good while now.


Crucially in this game the batting has to rise to support the excellent bowling. The performances of the under fire veterans in the 1st Test in Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey was a great fillup for the Team. If they can maintain their renaissance from the 1st test it will be a huge bonus for the Team that has been so reliant on Michael Clarke to carry the Teams batting.


Aiding in this will be the performance of the inexperienced top 3 of Dave Warner, Ed Cowan and Shaun Marsh. Who have all shown great potential in their early careers, but also have shown struggles in adapting to the demands of the test arena. If they can perform as they can it changes the batting immeasurable in respect to taking the pressure off the rest of the middle order.


Allow Clarke to come in with the support of the scoreboard rather that his guts churning at trying to pull the team out of the fire, and then the promise that the 'old timers' showed in Melbourne being supported by the absence of pressure.


The batting performing at an adequate holds the key for the Team for it will provide the support to a burgeoning excellent attack.


An extra string to the teams bow will be added if Nathan Lyon, who looked cannon fodder for the Indian batsmen in Melbourne with his off spin finding a way to be a factor in this Test.


If he can do that in support of the excellent pace attack it will go a long way to allowing the Australians to walk off the SCG at the conclusion of the Test with a 2 nil series lead


India


Likely Team


In the Press today, the Indian Skipper was as cool as the other side of the pillow in regards to the state of the Team. Making you believe that faith will likely be shown in the 11 from Melbourne. Greater sense would be seen in bringing in Rohit Sharma in place of  out of his depth Virat Kohli in the conditions. Making the Team this


Gambhir, Sehwag, Dravid, Tendulkar, Laxman, Rohit, Dhoni, Ashwin, Zaheer, Ishant, Yadav


The Key For India to Win


Pure and simple the Indian batting that was complete rubbish in the 1st Test needs to lift for the Team to fight back in this game.


In truth, not one batsman put in a respectable performance in any of their digs in Melbourne. Even Sachin Tendulkar, who dazzled us with sublime mastery in his first innings of 73 changed the whole course of the of the Test by getting to an attacking shot 3 balls before Stumps. When he should have been doing everything  in his power to survive to ensure he was there to lead India to a substantial lead in the 1st innings.


You could wipe this abject performance from a batting line up as being a mere aberration, but worryingly their fragility against pace made you reminisce to their struggles in England.


To facilitate a renaissance first and foremost the selectors needs to realise Virat Kohli' impotence in the conditions and replace him with the more equipped Rohit Sharma.


Then with the line up selected the lead needs to come from the top of the order with the hopelessly out of form Gautam Gambhir rediscovering the form that made him viewed in the top bracket of Test openers. In Melbourne he looked to be giving slips practice with how he was fending needlessly outside off stump when he could have left both deliveries that claimed his wicket.


He is an understated crucial component of the batting for he provides that more resolute batsman that the stroke makers and in particular Virender Sehwag can excel around. If he can blunt the new ball as he has in the past it will limit the effectiveness of the Australian pacemen and force Michael Clarke to bring on Nathan Lyon.


Which with how at ease Indian batsmen are against any calibre of spinner is akin to throwing a Christian to a pack of ravenous Lions.


The Very Very Special Laxman needs to lift as well. He looked terrible in Melbourne, and how he got out lobbing a catch off his pads in the 2nd innings to square leg did not look good at all. For in the past when you bowl on Laxman's legs it is as sure as taxes that the ball will rattle the picket, and more shocking was him getting caught. 


I say this for Laxman is such a student of batting purism in the sense that you never hit the ball in the air. So to watch him get caught made you fear that Father time might have dulled his reflexes a bit.


For India to win this Test he needs to be reminiscent of his moniker- 'Very Very Special'


M.S.Dhoni holds a huge key in this match too in both his roles.


Firstly his batting that adds such depth and intimidation to his Team needs to be the factor that it is on dead Asian tracks. 


Then his Captaincy..........


That was appalling in Melbourne as highlighted by him treating the number 10 and 11 in the Australian batting line up as though they Graeme Pollock and Barry Richards in partnership. He needs to realise wins in Test Cricket depend on doing everything in your power to get 20 wickets, rather than thinking it is an ODI game, and trying his best to save runs with wickets being a secondary thought


If these departments can lift, then India have a great chance to fight back because the bowling that was labelled as being substandard before the series was excellent in Melbourne. Indelibly showing that they are more than a match for the questionably Australian batting.


Prediction


I am torn on this game.


In the view that Australia were excellent in the 1st Test, but I do not trust them to be consistent.


Conversely I have faith in the abundance of skill in the Indian batting, but their struggles against pace in Melbourne made me think I was back watching them be like fish out of water in England. Where it seemed that the mastery that so symbolised them was being replaced little by little by the decay of age.


My faith has been shaken in India, but I still think there is sting in their Cobras tails.


Meaning they will win this Test

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