There is no doubt that Australia were totally outplayed by a committed, well-led Indian team. However, the crucial factor that separated the teams was the superb performance of Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma. It was a coming of age game for both these bowlers who were quite exceptional right through the Test.
It was clear that they surprised the Australian batsmen with the amount of pace and movement they generated on the pitch because Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson did not get similar returns from the wicket and it was clear which side was better in the pace department at Mohali.
Not the reason
A lot is being made about the lack of quality spinners in the Australian attack, but I don’t think that was a reason for this massive defeat. When the Australians set up one victory streak after the other, there was a feeling that our systems were perfect, and every player and every slot in the team had plenty of takers.
A day was bound to come when an aspect of Australian cricket would come under scrutiny and the lack of a match-wining spinner does pose questions on our system.
But we must be patient with Cameron White. After all, he has just started his career and it’s too early to jump to conclusions.
However, I was surprised that Beau Casson, who was pretty good in the West Indies, did not make this tour. But then, it was decided that leg-spin and a finger-spinner were better options.
They picked Jason Krejza because they reckoned he was good enough to play; so it’s better to try him out rather than to die wondering.
I would still say that it was the other departments of the game where the Australians were made to pay.
I just feel they came against an Indian team that was really on top of their game. Sachin Tendulkar led the way for the hosts, taking them out of a tricky situation and once he got going, the others fed off his confidence.
Sourav Ganguly also played an innings that was crucial for the team and Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s knock ensured that India was in an unassailable position.
It’s unfortunate that Lee has been a bit low on form just when the Indians are on the ascendant. I have seen Lee over the years and he is not too far from his best. For example, he had a good shout for leg-before off his first ball in the second innings. Sometimes, it’s just one ball or one stroke of luck that can get you back in rhythm.
There is talk about him being dropped for the next Test, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. You never write off champion players and there is no doubt that Lee is a champion bowler. I was surprised that Ricky Ponting did not use Simon Katich when nothing was working — he is a handy option and has been a partnership breaker in the past.
Poor shot selection
When Australia batted, some of the shot selection was off the mark, but as mentioned earlier, the Indian pacers set things up beautifully for Harbhajan and debutant Amit Mishra.
I would not be too critical of the Australians for going for their shots in the second innings. That’s the Australian way — you see a target and at least make a go for it, and the thinking always is that it’s better to lose while trying to win rather than while saving a game.
It did not work out for Australia at Mohali and now they are really up against it in Delhi and Nagpur where they are certain to play on turning pitches. Ponting and his men have a huge challenge coming up next week. I hope they are spurred on by it, and I certainly would not write them off just yet.
6 months ago