Sunday, March 5, 2017

Is India facing a humiliating innings defeat in its own Den?

The consensus in the wake of the Aussie obliteration of India in the 1st Test in Pune was it was an aberration with the hosts likely to hit back hard and restore order in the 2nd test.

Quite to the contrary, with the trend not only continuing but the issues that were dismissed as a blip on the Indian radar becoming more apparent. Chiefly, a batting line up that has been smashed into oblivion by Australia's spin twins of Steve O'Keefe (SOK) and Nathan Lyon.

The left arm spin of SOK being the destroyer in the 1st Test with Lyon playing the perfect foil followed by Lyon taking centre stage in the 1st innings of the second Test. It was startling seeing India's batsmen look so inept against Lyon's off spin with his predominantly over spin style deriving cobra like bounce from the Bengaluru pitch.

With the deck also taking a bit of turn it cast the India batting line up as dead men walking constantly feeding the hungry in close fieldsmen if they hadn't already self-sacrificed their wickets due to their clueless nature in playing spin. Key in the malaise was the Aussie attack neutralising the main strength in the Indian batting in its top 3 taking away the platform for Virat Kohli to plunder as well as the deadly dangerous lower order to become factors.

Kohli's performance has been a stand out with him suffering consecutive embarrassing dismissals by leaving straight ones from the spinners. The marauding 7-9 all rounders in the line up have been conspicuous by their absence with them only contributing 30 between them in the initial 3 innings of the series.

A recipe seeing India fail to register 200 in the series.

On the other side of the fence, Australia has been superlative in all regards

It would be easy to wax lyrically about their bowling unit and its completeness but their batting has been equally as superb.

Too much in the past it has sacrificed ascendency in Tests by flighty batting racked by too many cheap dismissals due to irresponsible shot selections or lapses in temperament. The first innings performance here exemplified an embrace of traditional Test batting with them realising they have plenty of time left in the game and playing accordingly. Both Matt Renshaw and Shaun Marsh's innings were supreme with them grinding the Indian attack into the turf and setting up a platform to administer last rites to the flailing hosts in this match

With a lead of 48 runs entering day three with 4 wickets left it sets up the possibility of the truly unthinkable.

An innings loss for India on its home soil.

If the Aussies could stretch the lead out to 150 this becomes a very real possibility.

The incumbents at the crease in Matthew Wade and Mitchell Starc hold this destiny in their hands. With the partnership a potential nightmare for the Indians with Wade likely to further dig in as he has so far in his innings of 25 allowing Starc to attack from the other end.

Starc has already proved pivotal with his lower order batting raising faith of a similar decisive contribution here.

If it becomes reality, it puts the acid on an Indian batting line up that has been badly exposed for its flaws so far in the series on a wearing pitch that will accentuate further exploitation

All their focus will be on countering the Aussie spin duo but as Mitchell Marsh's dismissal to an Ishant Sharma mullygrubber pitched on the stumps displayed the greater threat could come from the Aussie pacemen.

Starc with ball in hand looms large, but the unyielding accuracy of Josh Hazelwood could prove to be a silent assassin in the second innings for the Indian's.

It cries out for an Indian batsman or two to stand up to fend off the Aussie procession but the sad reality for the hosts is them proving themselves as a soft touch in the face of the visitors onslaught.

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