Thursday, December 11, 2014

A day about 'what ifs' for India

As stumps were drawn to end day 3, it would be easy wax lyrically about the fight and skill shown by the Indian batsmen in response to Australia's huge first innings total. Especially, when more than a few thought that they would be swept aside by Australia's lethal bowling duo of Ryan Harris and Mitchell Johnson.

To the contrary, my thoughts revolve around a day where India had a chance to seize control, and set up an unlikely chance of victory, but, let that opportunity slip from their grasp.

Many will point to the scoreboard, which sees India at 369/5, a mere 148 runs behind Australia and label this as overly harsh. The batting effort deserves respect, and with five wickets in hand the tourists could indeed get close to Australia's score, and go past it. But, on a day, where all of their batsmen looked at ease against an Australian attack that toiled on an unforgiving pitch. They should have done better and grinded the Aussies into the turf in the process.

The main culprit in this critique was Virat Kohli, whose dismissal to a top-edged pull shot with just four overs left gifted all the ascendency in the match back to the Aussies. It robbed the young tyro of a chance to be defining, not only on this match, but the series as a whole. With his brilliant 115 reeking of his precocious genius as well as a new found maturity. Gone was the self-defeating ego in his play with a steely resolve its replacement. He had all in awe, after he ducked into a 100mph delivery from Mitchell Johnson that silenced all as the ball made a sickening thud as it cannoned into his helmet. When he shook it off with a wide-eyed gaze, it steeled his focus, allowing all to partake in an innings of equal brilliance, and inspiration.

His demise robbed his excellence of a deserved exclamation mark as seen in a  game changing big double century. Sadly, for Indian fans, he had plenty of mates. With all of Murali Vijay, Ajiinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara failing to turn promising knocks into ones looked on as decisive. 

Away from the Indian batsmen, the Australian bowling unit, stood out by their sustained efforts and courage. Mitchell Johnson might not have had the stellar figures that he has had of late. But, he still came back late in the day, digging deep to find that little extra to get rid of the danger man Kohli. 

Nathan Lyon after being loaded into the gun for a dismal 2014 needs respect for the courage in his bowling. As seen in him still throwing the ball up when he could have easily gone on the defensive after being treated harshly by Murali Vijay in his initial spell. It stood out from a match point of view how the Aussie offie stuck to his guns as compared to his Indian counterpart Karn Sharma. Who when put under pressure lost his bottle, flattening out his deliveries, gifting away any possible edge in the contest.

All, in all a great days test cricket, but, one the Indians might look back on with a sense of regret.....

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