India 36 all out! Wait, a nightmare? No, a reality that struck us all utterly unannounced.
Not even in my wildest dreams, at least in this life, had I expected to see this day. Ever since I started following cricket since 2000, I have witnessed numerous lows for Team India. However, getting shot out for its lowest Test total of just 36, since 1974, 2020 could have never been so brutal.
As India is on a mission to successfully defend the Border-Gavaskar Trophy against Australia, I certainly knew that it would have a task at hand, while it would also be not so easy like the last time, in 2018-19. Evidently, it has been resisting so far. But, succumbing so low to get shot out for its lowest Test total! And, that too with the same team that won in 2018-19! Give me a break.
Fans are, undoubtedly, having a tough time to recall this unfortunate fate and it is sure to take some time to sink in. However, what we all are wondering as to what or where exactly did it all go wrong? Is it the batsmen, or the bowlers, or even the fielders that let the team down? Or did the Australians play too good?
Now, I am no expert or pundit. However, having followed cricket for so long, I do have some notable observations. So, here I present them and analyse the possible reasons for India’s downfall in Adelaide.
The opening conundrum
Even before the Test that made the headline India 36 all out began, the team had announced its playing XI a day before. It was baffling to see India going ahead with young opener Prithvi Shaw, despite him having failed in the warm-ups. Scoring just 59 in the four warm-up innings, it wasn’t convincing at all. Not sure what convinced skipper Virat Kohli, but can we really blame him?
Shaw is just 21 and we agree that he needs more exposure to mature into a world-class batsman in the coming days. However, that could not have come at the cost of a match, playing a definite role in the series.
Same goes for Mayank Agarwal. He was already rusty during the One-Day Internationals (ODI), scoring just 50 from two innings. Although he did manage to score 63 in the day-night warm-up tie, in Sydney, Kohli chose to stick to him for Adelaide. Well, I can say it is justified here, as Mayank is a Test specialist.
Nonetheless, he failed big time and has undoubtedly let the captain, as well as the side down.
And, if the openers fail to get going, a quarter of the job is done for the opposition. Also, we can’t really blame the other top-order batsman here, i.e. Kohli.
Dropped catches don’t win you matches
Or, should I say catches win you matches? It’s all the same. The point is, fielding has been a concern for both the sides in this tour. However, the Indians were even wobbly on the field. From misfields to dropped catches, it was obvious since the limited-overs campaign for the past couple of weeks.
Furthermore, what really got under my nerves was the two dropped catches of Marnus Labushagne in the first innings. First was at the score of 12, when Bumrah dropped him at the deep fine leg, resulting in a four. It was followed by Prithvi Shaw at 21, who dropped a sitter off Mohammed Shami. Meanwhile, Labushagne went on to score 47, before being dismissed by Umesh Yadav.
Needless to say, had those catches gone India’s way, Australia could have possibly been dismissed for a far lesser total than 191. Naturally, it would have resulted in an even better lead for Team India, around 150, which would have totally changed the complexion of the game.
Not twilight, India need to master batting at early hours
When it comes to day-night Tests, the regular complain that teams come up with, is the batsmen’s struggle to spot the ball correctly during the twilight phase, as the colour of the sunshine during the dawn fiddles with the ball. However, that was not the case in this Test.
Interestingly, the Indians did tackle the twilight phase, during the first innings, quite brilliantly. What they should instead focus on is handling the early hour seam movement, with the new ball. As was unambiguous on Day 3, the Indians absolutely had no clue and answers for the lethal seam movement produced by the Australian pacers, notably Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins.
Not sure what was the reason for such a deadly seam movement. Was it the condition, or does the pink ball has something extra with its seam, it’s hard to tell right now. Nonetheless, it is something the Indians need to master and for that, they need to practice more with the pink ball and play day-night Tests on a regular basis.
Lack in intent from Indian bowlers
Ever since childhood days, a kid is being taught to keep fighting until the very last, no matter what the situation is. It is a golden mantra that is followed in every aspect of life. Sadly, it is what was missing with the Indian bowlers in the second innings, following their violent collapse with the bat.
It was apparent that the Australians were at a psychological advantage, having to chase just 90 runs. Also, the unavailability of prominent seamer Mohammed Shami made things even difficult for the Indians. However, the lack of intent was clearly visible with their bowling and body language, which is simply not acceptable for a top team like India.
Then again, as I had mentioned before, had India not dropped the catches and restricted Australia with a better lead of around 150, the entire scenario, including the Indian bowling, would have been vastly different from what we saw in the second innings on Day 3.
Australian bowlers just nailed it
Let’s give credit to whom and where it’s due. The Aussie pacers did a fine job to restrict Indian to the paltry score, as they somewhat over-utilised the conditions.
Be it for the pink ball or the early hours; the Australian pacers were adamant about making the most of it. While Hazlewood just rose to the occasion with one of his career-best spells (5/8), Pat Cummins has proved himself too good to be played in Australia. Having come off a fine outing in the Indian Premier League (IPL), there was hardly any doubt that he would be the key man for the hosts in the series, as his seven-for in Adelaide has proven the same.
Overall, the Indians came up with a spirited performance. However, it was all dumped by their lacklusterness in the second innings. Furthermore, they do have some heavy homework to do before the Boxing Test in Melbourne. Meanwhile, my heartiest congratulations go out to Australia. That said, I just wish India bounces back better, and if not, at least as strong as this Australia in the remainder of the series.