Australia registered their first win under the new captain Tim Paine and coach Justin Langer as they trounced India by whopping 146 runs on the fifth and final day of the second Test at the Optus Stadium in Perth. With this win, Australia levelled the four-Test series 1-1.
Meanwhile, this victory meant a lot for Australia as their six-match winless streak came to an end. It was the culmination of nine months of soul-searching and struggles.
Resuming the chase on overnight score 112 for 5, India managed just 28 runs before being bowled out. Tim Paine’s bowlers scripted the victory in style, turning the screws in 65 minutes to set the stage for a high-voltage Boxing-Day Test in Melbourne, starting on December 26.
Nevertheless, this defeat pointed out the mistakes done by captain Virat Kohli and the Indian team management which resulted in their defeat. At the same time, the hosts captured the ascendancy from the moment their skipper Paine won the toss.
As Aaron Finch and Marcus Harris provided Australia solid start, they never allowed the world’s No. 1 ranked Test side India to snap their dominance in the match, except a few inspired fight-back, two most notable of which was Virat Kohli’s first Test hundred of the tour and Mohammad Shami’s career-best 6 for 56 in the second innings.
When there is no way to undermine Australia’s scintillating performance at Optus Stadium, it would not be out of the place to say that India’s prejudices helped the Baggy Green in attaining an equaliser in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
Asthe series level at 1-1, we come up with reasons behind India’s Perth Test debacle.
KLRahul-Murali Vijay’s miserable run continued
In the ongoing Test series, India hardly got off to a solid start.Opening pair comprises of KL Rahul and Murali Vijay, failed to offer India witha good start which let the pressure building on the middle order. Neither of them manages a fifty in the lasttwo matches.
Their failure has become a burden for India which led selectors todrop them and fly Mayank Agarwal to Australia for the remaining two Tests toresolve the opening conundrum. In the Melbourne Test, it is expected thateither Cheteshwar Pujara or Ajinkya Rahane to open the innings with Mayank.
In therecently-concluded Perth Test, two batsmen from the top seven managed toregister 50 plus score in the first innings, while in the second inningsneither of them reached 50-run mark. It is evident that if captain Kohli gets out early nobody can pull this teamout of danger zone. Yes, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane showed sparks toexcel in the series, but they are too inconsistent so far.
It would not be outof place to say when Kohli plays India feel confident. Fast bowler Ishant wasrather direct about this point. When he was asked, he said, “Whenever ViratKohli is batting, we feel pretty confident”.
In the first innings, Kohli scripted his first hundred of the series, scoring magnificent 123. But, as soon as Pat Cummins removed him, rest of the batsmen failed to put up a resistance against a furious Australian bowling attack which gave latter a substantial 43-run first innings lead.
In the second innings, Nathan Lyon found the glove of Kohli whichbrought the curtain down on Kohli’s innings early. Aussies celebrated theprized wicket of Indian captain jubilantly. This time Kohli managed just 17runs.
While chasing 287 runs targetIndian resistance survived for 65 minutes on the fifth day morning as Australiabowled them out for paltry 140. It is quite clear; unless rest of the Indianbatsmen share the responsibilities among themselves the pressure will beef upon Kohli, which is no doubt, an unwelcoming trend.
OverlookingRavindra Jadeja’s experience and expertise
In a match where opposition’s crafty off-spinner Nathan Lyon wasadjudged Man of the Match for his match figure 8 for 106, India badly missedthe service of a spinner. It is not that they lack an outstanding tweaker. But,it was team management and captain Kohli’s unforgivable mistake of misreading acrease which has a bit for everyone.
Their decision to deploy a four-prong paceattack, leaving out Ravindra Jadeja, boomeranged. When India came out to bat inthe first innings, Lyon appeared to be the biggest tormentor of them scalpingfive wickets- he made the best use of widening crack of the crease. He sweptout India’s long-tail to restrict them for 283 in the process.
In the second innings, when fast bowler Mitchell Starc was unleashing snorters to keep Indian batsmen in check, Lyon went on to take three more to finish the match with a figure of 8 for 106.
When Australia’s Lyon played a pivotal role with the ball, India missed left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja badly. With Ravichandran Ashwin picked up an injury in the Adelaide Test, Jadeja could have easily fit into the Indian XI. India’s decision to play Hanuma Vihari didn’t work out well, but the part-time spinner showed that what he has done with Australia taking two wickets in the first innings, Jadeja would have been better in this regard, considering his experience, expertise and ability to adapt to any conditions.
The southpaw’s batting prowess would also have helped India to strengthen their lower order batting.
Choosingerratic Umesh Yadav over Bhuvneshwar Kumar
On the other hand, giving priority to Umesh Yadav over Bhuvneshwar Kumarproved to be a nonsense move. Bhuvneshwar is known for his uncanny ability totroubling batsmen, irrespective of the conditions. At the same time, he is asuperb lower order batsman that could have helped India to prevent Australiafrom getting a first innings lead.
When Ishant Sharma, Mohammad Shami andJasprit Bumrah were keeping Aussies under check from one end, Yadav’s erraticspells released the pressure from another. So, it is expected that India wouldlearn from their mistakes at Perth and field a balanced XI in the Boxing-DayTest accordingly.