Australia can be a hostile place for visiting teams. The crowd, the ones with the Baggy Green caps, the ones who wore the Baggy Green and the media can be brutal with their assessment in the lead up a Test series. Ask the England and India teams of the past. They will be able to tell the story better.
However, the narrative in the lead up to the ongoing series was quite different. Australia were heading into the 4-match rubber on the back of losing the previous series at home 1-2 to a Virat Kohli-led side. The build-up to the Adelaide Test was centered around Virat Kohli, on whether the India captain can set up the series for the visitors before he headed back on paternity leave.
Even the Australia players, including captain Tim Paine, played it safe. However, things changed in 2 and half days. India were bundled out for 36, their lowest Test score last Saturday after Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood produced one of the finest spells of fast bowling in Adelaide. India, after dominating the first Test for the most part of it slipped to an 8-wicket defeat after 45 minutes of high-class seam bowling.
India were staring at an uphill task after the Adelaide horror show. To compound their problems, India were without Kohli and Mohammed Shmi was also ruled out due to a fracture he picked up during their first Test.
Battered for 36. Lost Kohli. Lost Shami. No Rohit Sharma, no Ishant Sharma. And the narrative changed.
India were labelled as ‘Adelaide 36ers’. Former cricketers were forecasting a 4-0 scoreline. “No hope,” said Mark Waugh when talking about India’s chances of comeback. Captain Tim Paine pointed out Virat Kohli and Mohammed Shami’s absence, saying it would certainly give the hosts “an advantage”.
However, the Australians got a reality check with their bowlers unable to compensate for their batting frailties in Melbourne, unlike Adelaide. India lost the toss but under stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane, the visitors bounced back strong and dominated the Test, bowling out Australia for 195 and 200 en route to a commanding 8-wicket win.
And, now the Australian media and their former cricketers, seem to have understood the enormity of the batting woes.
‘Not the way Australian teams play’
Batting great Ponting expressed concerns about Australia’s ‘fragile’ batting order, saying he expects some personnel changes.
“They’ve looked fragile with their batting, and they’ve looked tentative … and let the Indian bowlers dictate, that’s not the way Australian teams play. Expect some personnel change, but I think there might be a bit of a change in mindset as well,” Ponting told Channel 7.
‘India complete epic turnaround’
Andrew Ramsey, writing for cricket.com.au. points out that India have “completed an epic turnaround” to level the series in Melbourne.
“A year that has produced more than its feasible quota of unforeseen events has foreclosed with one of Test cricket’s more remarkable reversals after India completed an emphatic win over Australia to level the four-match Vodafone Test Series,” he wrote.
“The chances of India rebounding so quickly from their humiliation at Adelaide Oval last Sunday week seemed infinitely more than socially distant when their best batter and inspirational leader Virat Kohli returned home on planned paternity leave and injuries to fast bowlers grew to a cluster. But under stand-in skipper and inaugural Johnny Mullagh Medal winner as player of the match in the second Test Ajinkya Rahane (due reward for posting the sole century of the campaign to date), India have not only squared the series but seized the initiative.”
‘Supposed summer of improvement stutters’
Geoff Lemon, writing for The Guardian, writes that “Australia’s supposed summer of improvement” has stuttered against India.
“It is hard to compute that a team can bowl out their opposition for 36 in a Test series and still be the one under the pump. Yet here we are. Australia’s bowlers had a Lou Reed perfect day in Adelaide to smash through India, but they had to be that good to compensate for their teammates’ batting,” Lemon wrote.
“The other match-saving contribution came via the wicketkeeper’s runs from No 7. The specialists have been fragments and figments.”
‘Australia’s bowlers can only do so much’
Tom Morris, writing for Fox Sports, lamented the lack of fight from Australia’s batting order despite a world-class bowling unit stepping up and doing its job time and again.
“Australia’s bowlers can only do so much,” Morris writes.
“In Adelaide, they rescued the batsmen amid a first innings deficit. Heading into Melbourne, it was the first time since early 2007 an Aussie bowling attack had amassed more than 1000 Test wickets between them.
“But despite their best efforts, it was again the top seven that let the team down, both with the bat and in the field.”
‘Cricket is a team game’
Malcolm Knox, sharing his thoughts on the Sydney Morning Herald, blasted Australia’s batting.
“Cricket is a team game and all that, but consider the position of Australia’s ‘batting group’. Their collective contribution to this match has been 223 runs for ten out. In the field, they’ve dropped four critical catches (so far),” Knox was quoted as saying.
“They spent this morning watching their bowlers try to scrounge out some kind of total to defend…so that those same bowlers can attempt a miracle this afternoon.
“Any Australian batsman who gets in the lunch queue ahead of a bowler should be sacked on principle. And which position did Australia make redundant during the winter? The batting coach,”