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SportCricketMoving ball continues to haunt India

Moving ball continues to haunt India

Published: 21st Dec 2020 12:07 am | Updated: 20th Dec 2020 10:03 pm

Hyderabad: The moving ball continues to be the scourge of Indian batsmen. They faced such ignominy so many times in the past. The worst unfolded on Saturday when they folded up for a disgraceful and heartbreaking 36 all out in 21.2 overs at Adelaide. Incidentally, the Lord’s score of 42 against England was the lowest by an Indian team.

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From that English summer to this Australian summer, the Indians had slipped to one of their worst-ever defeats. There was a hue and cry over India’s 42 all out and it led to late Ajit Wadekar resignation as captain. There is a similar sentiment running on social media whether BCCI will take the same step against Virat Kohli. But the Board may refrain from taking such a drastic step. All eyes will be on India’s performances in the other three Tests. It was Pink fury at Adelaide.

For now, the daggers are out against chief coach Ravi Shastri, bowling coach Bharat Arun, batting coach Vikram Rathour and fielding coach R Sridhar. This Test saw batting coming a cropper, the bowler’s inability to polish off the tail, who put over 80 runs, and the number of catches grassed to let the match slip out of India’s hands.

India were in the driver’s seat till the morning of third day’s play before Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood changed the script and upset India’s plan. They were hostile and accurate to run through the Indian side. Former Test left-arm spinner SL Venkatapathy Raju said the Australian duo did not bowl a single loose ball. “They were spot on and attacked on and around the off stump.

“The Adelaide wicket gets livelier from the third day. There was the bounce and the Indian batsmen fell into the trap as they followed the ball without moving their feet. In Australia, a batsman has to use the crease as the bowler does while bowling. Interestingly, the Australian bowlers hardly bowled bouncers and instead they targeted the corridor outside the off stump. Surely the Australians did their homework and the bowlers executed perfectly,” said Raju.

When Australia needed 90 runs for victory, neither Jasprit Bumrah nor Umesh Yadav was as sharp or incisive as Cummins or Hazlewood even though the conditions suited for fast bowlers. India were literally blown away.

Raju said that India should have played more with more intent. “They played into the hands of the Australians with defensive cricket. It is sad with some technology available the Indian team should have sorted all these issues before the big Test,” Raju said.

The Indian batsmen failed in New Zealand and it was repeated in Adelaide. Cheteshwar Pujara, the hero of India’s historic Test series win 2018-19 in Australia, has been tentative and he has struggled for runs. In recent times, many of the Indian team’s victories revolved around Pujara.

But has Pujara become too defensive? He consumes too many balls without scoring and letting the bowler to come on top. Even Mayank Agarwal looked far from secure and he did not play his normal aggressive game.

Raju therefore questioned the omission of KL Rahul. “Rahul is technically sound. He is in form and an experienced bat. He should have played as opener and may be, he could have done a better job than Shaw.”

It may be a different story if Kohli had not been run out. In this ‘yes and no’ call of Ajinkya Rahane could have sacrificed his wicket as the Indian captain was already in his zone and looking for a big score. As Kohli departs for India, the onus will fall on Rahane. With injured Mohammed Shami out for the rest of the series, the Indian team is further depleted.

For the first time for many years, India will be without four experienced players – Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Ishant Sharma and Shami – and that will hurt India badly. It will be testing times for Rahane and Shastri & Co for the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne beginning December 26.


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