Posts Tagged ‘3rd Test’


Chandrasekhar Jayaramakrishnan

In the midst of Test Cricketing doldrums, the Indians have been beset by yet another storm that has washed away its final chance of salvaging some pride this series.  Yet again, the Indians find themselves in a position on Day One where the result seems inevitably favoring the opposition. True enough, the mystery behind a slump in form – spanning seven tests – remains.

India’s batting collapses have been well documented since the commencement of the England tour last summer. And (un)fortunately, there’s nothing new that a writer can add to throw more light to this crisis.  It is easy to gain the impression that nothing is happening behind the scenes, and in truth, it appears as though not much was. A titanic squad on paper has been relegated to the backbenches of cricketing credibility.

Lack of faith in the current team to reverse the premonitions seem evident, and entirely rational: another short-term spark is needed to ignite the fused morale, as is a long term veteran replacement plan to throw some hope in to the future, but both seem beyond any imaginable degree of capability now. These impulses are largely altruistic – precisely the reason why a change, even though rightfully claimable, has escaped the thoughts of selectors forever. Individual interests seem to have taken precedence over larger interests.

Amidst a fierce recession in Indian standards, David Warner stepped into the WACA, with a mere four caps against his name, to rewrite record books. The intensity of his innings remains an awe-inspiring memory, given how the Indian batting had made the spectators, initially, believe that there was something in the wickets for the bowlers to exploit. Record books will indicate that four out of the seven fastest test centuries have been made at this venue – highlighting the fact that if you can play pace and bounce well, you’re likely to succeed at the WACA.

Warner feasts on Indian Curry during his way to a record breaking ton © Daily Mail

The cynical Indian will point his fingers at Sehwag for having planted the thought of Test Cricket in Warner’s mind during the inaugural edition of the IPL. Warner reminded us of a young Viru who took pleasure in decimating bowling attacks, and it is no wonder incidental that the closest shave Warner had was an LBW appeal from a Sehwag offie. Cowan, at the other end, remained solid and firm to remind fans of the successful, if brief, partnership that Sehwag and Chopra had formed during India’s tour down under back in 2003/04.

Warner delightfully gathered runs at levels and rates at which Iran perceivably enriches Uranium. And it doesn’t look as though either is likely to stop anytime soon. Warner’s willow seemed to possess the venom that the Indian pacers lacked. At times, it would have appeared cruel to be judgmental on the Indian bowlers given how Warner dismissed even good deliveries to the fence. His assault crippled Indians hopes of revival and there seem to be no evidence that Day Two would promise change in fortunes, given how implicitly the bowling has qualified cluelessness.

Warner, thus far, has looked as rigorous in dismissing bowling attacks as the Indians have struggled to cope with it. The Indian batting, to begin with, painted a diametrically opposite picture with batsmen clearly looking lost in a wicket that didn’t even closely resemble the nature as described during the buildup.

Hilfenhaus continued from where he left off at Sydney, and Starc, who’d come in place of Lyon, silenced any doubters over the four-man pace attack by grabbing two wickets. Although, in hindsight, it would’ve appeared as though playing a spinner wouldn’t have been all that bad an idea. The only resistance offered by the opposition was via Kohli and Laxman who, briefly, looked as though they were doing a decent job rebuilding the innings.

The Aussie pacers had other ideas. As did Warner, subsequently. With one record firmly under his belt, it wouldn’t be all that unrealistic to imagine the possibility of him breaking more as the Test progresses. Unfortunately for the Indians, the harsh reality of a Formula One Race lasting longer than a solid innings would give their go-karting skills little to brag over.


Goutham Chakravarthi

India stand to lose more than just the series when the third Test gets underway on Friday morning. Talks of both teams going with four quick bowlers have donned the headlines over the last two days, but they have been just a sub-text in a week dominated by Haddin’s claims on India being a side not needing much to turn on each other and Zaheer’s counter claims to it. Perhaps, Haddin folding his hands and saying, “Friday the 13th… be scared India…. be very scared…” is sillier than Hrithik Roshan calling this the Agneepath series. Even though some of the cricket from India in Sydney was pretty silly, none could match these sequence of events over the last week.

From being touted to be the best opening pair in the world two seaons ago, Gambhir and Sehwag have largely disappointed. They were Batman and Robin, Holmes and Watson, and Bryan and Bryan: irresistible and scintillating. They would thrill with their strokeplay and running between the wickets. One would sneeze and the other would catch a cold. Two close pals, one a genius on his day, and the other, a determined soul, needing each other more than ever before to turn it around for themselves and for their team. They set the tone and their form usually dictates how well India do as a batting unit.

If they can give India a good start, India will fancy their chances. Photo: AFP

Yes, in their heyday, this team would turnaround every friction, banter and abuse to its advantage. They were among the most respected and tough bunches going around. Yet, with reasons, firstly, with injuries, and now with age, the reasons for decline have not been arrived at. Some have pointed out to Fletcher’s incoming to this team coinciding with its dipping fortunes, but, the coach and the team swear by the culture and insist that nothing has changed.

The reason for India’s declining fortunes is directly proportional to its waning batting performances. India’s planning in the Tests has not been as prudent as it has been in the one-dayers. It took a hard stand to leave out the likes of Laxman, Dravid and Ganguly and groom youngsters and reaped benefits. A similar attempt in Tests has never materialized.

India goes into Perth with little confidence and/or collective form. A green pitch might guarantee 20 wickets for both sides. There in lies India’s best chance. The chasm between the sides has been Australia’s bowling. India’s bowling has been inconsistent and seems to rise and fall with Zaheer’s mood and health. Should the wicket encourage a three day Test, the result will hinge on a crucial 70 here or there, and, right now, that seems to be the best the Indian middle-order seems to be able to produce.

Over the next few days, this Indian team will not just fight the Fremantle Doctor and the Aussies for the series, but for their immediate future. While the right thing would be to blood a couple of youngsters, it is difficult to imagine this team management opting for that. For long, consistency in its team selection counted among its strengths, now, it might have come back to haunt them.

Australia go in as favourites, but the pitch might give India a chance to pull one back.

You can read preview from the Australian camp here.


Chandrasekhar Jayaramakrishnan

Mind games with the Aussies, much akin to the way they play cricket themselves is about attack and more attack. Rarely courteous and often lacking an element of political correctness, the ‘mind-game’ quotient is always deferential to the raw aggression at the core of their intent. The channels through which these thoughts become manifest, apart from media headlines, is via the Aussie crowds’ seascape of humor: from inflammatory jibes to stirring loud-mouthed opinions.

Australia’s most potent 12th man is the collection of chants emanating from the dry-humored men amidst the high terraces of Aussie arenas. And as the stage moves to the West, Australia’s quasi-twelfth men look as though they’d have a greater impact on the Indians than the current Australian top order.

It should be noted however that two, out of the three, top order places currently occupied are stop-gap solutions to what otherwise is a better laid plan. Injuries, and lack of a better idea, are what still keeps Cowan and Marsh at the top – although this might sound a lot lesser harsher than what it really conveys. No individual can be thoroughly judged in the context of two games, but given today’s competition for places, such thoughts become inevitable.

Perth demonstrates how Cricket is Going Green © Resource2 News

A green and bouncy Perth wicket would mean as much joy to the bowlers as it would mean misery to some of the Aussie batsmen. Given their record against the moving ball of late, it would be a surprise to see a greenish top (even if reports claim so) given how the Aussie batsmen have been found wanting under such conditions.

The selectors can afford to be cagey though, given the middle order spark of late, and decide to stick to the winning combination for the rest of the series. That would mean that further lack of runs from either Cowan or Marsh (and even Warner to an extent) would be ignominious to their reputations perpetually. And players, who’ve traditionally taken this route, ended up not witnessing further international action, or in some cases, revived their careers after a rather large period of isolation and strong domestic performances. Marsh, a Perth local, would especially want to capitalize on home soil.

In the process of admiring Clarke’s feats, the revival of Ricky Ponting and the gusty temperament of Michael Hussey, the other side of the equation – the pace bowling department’s steadiness throughout – has been overlooked. Sure, the likes of young Cummins and Pattinson would’ve relished a wicket like Perth to bowl on, but the tendency to repeatedly catalogue young, exciting fast bowlers has not ended up giving Hilfenhaus and Siddle the credit they deserve. Whether a four man pace attack at Perth would be an option envisioned is yet to be ascertained, but over-rate concerns apart, the idea may not seem all that farfetched.

Ryan Harris would be an automatic choice to fill the void left by Pattinson. Having not played since being injured during the tour of Sri Lanka, Perth would be an ideal venue to resume duties. As for Mitchell Starc, the question lingering around the four man pace attack would have to be answered before his name pops up on the team sheet. Given his height and the steep bounce he is likely to generate, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he lines up with his team mates at Perth, leaving Nathan Lyon to warm the bench this time.

Unlike Sydney, where the focus was largely on the numbers gathered by the middle order batsman, Perth would give the audiences an opportunity to witness what pace and bounce can do to unsettle batsmen. Given that age has caught up with most of the Indian batsmen, their reflexes would be tested beyond imaginable measure by the Aussie attack, which would, like the previous tests, target taking twenty wickets before the final day dawns. But with the visitors having triumphed at Perth last tour, complacency may find very little space in the Aussie dressing rooms.

You can read preview from the Indian camp here.