PARTAB RAMCHAND | 24 DECEMBER, 2020
It Could Be Mission Impossible for the Indians Now
Horror show at Adelaide
It is the sort of humiliation from which they can be no recovery. Sure, there have been several instances of teams losing the first Test and then going on to win the series. India themselves turned the tables on Australia three years ago at home in winning the four-match series 2-1.
But after the horror show at Adelaide one cannot nurture thoughts of any sort of comeback by India in the ongoing contest in Australia.
The morale of the visitors must have taken such a beating that the team members will continue to be in a stupor for the rest of the series. Indeed the ``Winter of 36’’ which finally after 46 years set aside the infamous ``Summer of 42’’ will be talked about for years.
Indian cricket followers who are arguably the most passionate in the game are a most unforgivable lot. When the team loses they come down on the players like a ton of bricks, criticism is often unfair and scathing and in these days of social media there is no let-up in the jokes and comments that range from the mildly entertaining to the most vicious. But then that is perhaps only to be expected when the side is dismissed for their lowest ever total in 88 years of playing Test cricket comprising some 550 matches.
Inevitably the inquests have already started as to how a team rated No 3 in the ICC rankings and possessing one of the best batting line-ups in the contemporary game can be shot out in 21.2 overs for the joint fourth lowest total inTest history. All the recognized batsmen – one of them ranked No 1 across the formats - predictably have taken a lot of flak. There cannot be any excuses when not a single batsman gets into double figures – only the second time this has happened in some 2400 Test matches over 143 years.
That said one must also give credit to the bowlers when such a feat is accomplished. On Saturday morning Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins really could no nothing wrong. They were relentless in adhering to the right line and length giving the batsmen no respite on a surface that certainly helped them even if it is was not loaded very heavily in their favour. The batsman could still play their strokes but the two bowlers just gave them no respite. The result was that the batsmen could just play hesitatingly and it was no surprise that Tim Paine had a wonderful time behind the stumps picking up five catches.
The piece de resistance was the ball that resulted in Cheteswar Pujara’s dismissal. The line and length were perfect, it was bowled at good pace, it moved away late and even a superb technician like Pujara could only manage to nick it for Paine to complete the formalities. Yes, for all of any batsman’s strengths as far as technique and temperament are concerned there is still the clichéd unplayable ball in cricket to which even the best can have no reply.
It is not often that a side dominates the first two days of a Test only to lose it all in one dramatic morning’s play on the third. What looked like an evenly contested game till stumps on day two was over in just about half a day’s play in a rather lop sided result. And while the Australians winning their eighth straight day/night Test will be cock-a-hoop it will be back to the drawing board for the Indians.
While it is not necessary to press panic buttons certain drastic measures will have to be taken for the second Test In Melbourne starting on Boxing Day. There is no need for any change in the policy of playing six batsmen, wicket keeper, three fast bowlers and a spinner. But there will have to be changes galore.
One is a forced one with Virat Kohli opting out of the rest of the series but there will have to be a couple of more changes in the personnel. KL Rahul, Shubman Gill and maybe even Rishabh Pant should be played at the MCG in place of Kohli, Prithvi Shaw and Hanuma Vihari with Pant being played as a batsman after his electrifying unbeaten hundred in the tour game against Australia A last week. In the bowling too there will be a forced change.
With the injured Mohammed Shami out of the Test series Navdeep Saini or Mohammed Siraj will have to play in the second Test. There will be a change in the captaincy too with Ajinkya Rahane taking over from Kohli. If it is any consolation for Rahane and his shell-shocked teammates he has won both the Tests he has captained so far. But then these are difficult times in the context of what happened at Adelaide.
It might appear to be Mission Impossible but at least the visitors must take the right steps and make the right moves to show that they don’t see it that way.
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