Monday, March 20, 2017

Australia Steal a Draw from the Jaws of Indian Victory

Test Cricket has always enthralled with its joyous uncertainty.

This series has embodied this while taking it to a whole new captivating level. With all certain of an Indian procession pre-series with Australia emulating their last three ventures to Asia, all ending in humiliating series whitewashes.

Going into the last day already 2 down after being grinded brutally into the turf on day four by a brilliant Indian rearguard it seemed an inevitability that Australia would go down like a deck of cards. following a long history of meek 4th innings collapses.  The epitaphs were being written seeing two pillars of the batting from this series in Matt Renshaw and Steven Smith fall in successive overs short of Lunch with an eternity left in the game.

Particularly seeing the back of Smith, not only for its pivotal nature in the context of the battle with him a key tormentor with the bat all series long but also the nature of his dismissal with his stumps shattered shouldering arms to Ravendra Jadeja. Setting ablaze the Indian players and crowd in support igniting a cauldron-like atmosphere that even the most accomplished would struggle with.

Enter a virtual odd couple in Shain Marsh and Peter Handscombe and the aforementioned 'uncertainty' delved into the realm of surreal with them sharing in 189 ball partnership full of skill, grit and resolve. Silencing the crowd while flipping the Aussie faithful from drowning their sorrows in expectation of a heavy loss to toasting a draw representing a watershed moment for the new look Team after the shambles of Hobart.

It casts them as a very dangerous entity going into the last Test in Dharmashala with them resembling gamblers playing with the house's money. This could free their minds of any pressure in the realisation that they have already exceeded all expectations on this tour along with knowing they only need a draw to retain the Border/Gavaskar Trophy.

How huge will be the toss in the deciding Test??????

The reality for India is more grim.

With the aftermath sure to have occupied head scratching and recriminations amidst a dissection over how they failed to seal victory here. Particularly after having a tidal wave of momentum after their remarkable come from behind win in the third Test coupled with the 4th-day heroics from Pujara/Saha filling their sails further to smash the tourists into oblivion.

The reality of their failure was the Lone Ranger nature of their attack betraying them with it being Jadeja or no one. The left armers spin twin in Ravichandran Ashwin was synonymous by his absence with match figures of 185/2 belying the lauded reputation he is held in.

The irony of the off spinners struggles was the absence of Australian spearhead Mitchell Starc. With the big left arm quicks absence depriving Ashwin of his footprints to become lethal on a wearing pitch. It exposed two associated realities, the first an expectation for Ashwin to be better regardless of the conditions along with the thought after the match that India erred in selection.

Their reading of the pitch prematch dictated a batsman dropped and an extra bowler added to assist on a thankless deck. It would have set up a perfect chance to flip the script on the Aussies by inserting the unorthodox nature of Chinaman Kuldeep Yadav. A move that would have challenged the Aussies who have brilliantly pre-planned for orthodox spinners with an avante guarde type of bowler.

The fact they resisted this obvious change highlights a lack of faith in a batting line up that has spluttered for most of the series with only two of their top 6 averaging over 36. On top of this, they have only scored two centuries with both coming in the first innings of this Test. It stands out like dogs balls when you revert to their previous series against England where 9 of their players averaged over 36 on top of 9 centuries scored.

The absence of proper due diligence and associated courage from the Indian selectors puts acid on the team big time in the deciding 4th Test.

A fact that will run a real rule over the real pedigree of an Indian line up viewed as the best in the Test arena.

No comments:

Post a Comment