What can I say that hasn’t been said of India’s meltdown in Adelaide? Watching the wickets tumble was surreal, each dismissal an action replay of the previous one. But we must not forget that as disappointing as it is for us to watch what unfolded, the players and the entire squad must be hurting badly.
This freak occurrence should not define these players, who have played and performed enough times in all parts of the world. I am not saying dismiss what happened, but it’s imperative to put it in perspective. India had scrapped for six sessions to get their noses in front, only for a crazy 70-minute passage to undo the good work. Their cause wasn’t helped by Australia bowling superbly, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood constantly probing away in the corridor.
Only a quarter of the Test series is over. With three matches to go, there is all to play for. Speaking from experience, the team might feel like it’s carrying the weight on its shoulders, but it’s darkest before dawn.
This is a true test of the team’s character and mettle, more so with the captain Virat Kohli and Mohammed Shami unavailable from here on. There is a great chance for new heroes to emerge, for men to put their hand up and rise to the occasion. It’s time to put Adelaide behind and target a fresh beginning.
That said, 36 all out doesn’t mask old failings that continue to haunt the side. India should have posted at least 300 in the first innings, given they had reached 188 before the mix-up between Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane. Not for the first time in recent memory, the lower order failed to contribute anything of note overseas, and again, history repeated itself when Australia were allowed to escape from a tight corner with the bat. After all, they were struggling at 111 for seven - and get to within 53 runs of India’s tally.
Worse still, five catches were put down, which is a definite no-no, especially against a team of Australia’s calibre. India’s catching form has been very poor from the start of the tour. The lack of improvement is disappointing because this is a skill that can be honed through sustained practice.
The pacers were all outstanding, but particularly noteworthy were the efforts of Umesh Yadav and offie Ashwin. Umesh has hardly played any cricket this year and didn’t figure much in the IPL either, while Ashwin was superb with his control and guile. Amidst the doom and gloom, there were enough positives to suggest Adelaide was a one-off.
That’s the message the coaching staff will seek to drive into the team, I am sure.