Another Day, Another Humiliation

Date: January 13, 2012 / Posted by control

Australian wicket-keeper Brad Haddin drew the ire of the Indian team leading into the Perth Test when he said the tourists, “break quicker than any team in the world” when things go against them out in the middle. India may have responded verbally to the barb but when it mattered it was a case of told you so.

The opening day of the third Test was one of the most humiliating in the long and storied history of Indian cricket. From the moment Michael Clarke uttered the words, “we’ll have a bowl”, the tourists were on the back foot.

From their actions you would never imagine the series, and the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, were on the line for M S Dhoni’s men.

Both teams took the gamble of going for all out pace, with four-prong speed batteries selected on both sides. Whilst the fabled WACA pitch wasn’t quite back to its halcyon days, it was soon evident that the Australian quartet was going to prove a handful.

Opener Virender Sehwag’s fourth ball duck set the tone for what ended up being an innings highlighted by its brevity. The tourists lunched at 4/63. Upon the restart, India’s fortunes were in the hands of two men who were fighting to keep their place in the side – veteran V V S Laxman who has had yet another calamitous away series and Virat Kohli, who many thought should have made way for Rohit Sharma.

They provided the only period of true resistance to Clarke’s men and when they took the score to 4/131 there would have been a thought in the Australian camp that perhaps they should have stuck with off-spinner Nathan Lyon. But that proved to be only a fleeting moment of introspection.

With Siddle leading the charge, claiming both Laxman (31) and Kohli (44), India lost its last seven wickets for a mere 30 runs to be shot out for 161. Their rapid demise was akin to watching a train crash in slow motion.

The arrival of Zaheer Khan at the wicket was in some ways the nadir of the Indian innings. Yes, his top-order colleagues had placed his side in a perilous position, but as he approached the middle he was met by his skipper Dhoni, the last recognized batsman still standing, a man who at least made an unbeaten 57 amid the wreckage in Sydney.

Rather than try and provide some stolid support, Zaheer chose to swing like a rusty gate in a storm. During his 11-ball comedy adventure he tried to lace every ball to the boundary, or beyond, before he fell for two.

Shortly after Zaheer’s departure the Indian first innings was terminated. One would imagine that Dhoni would have implored a greater effort from his charges in the field. When all said and done, the country’s cricketing pride was on the line.

Alas for India, things from that point of time went from bad to worse. In the remaining 23 overs of the opening day the tourists were further humiliated with Australia racing to stumps at 0/149, a mere 12 runs in arrears. The provider of most of the pain was pocket dynamo David Warner, who stroked his way to a chanceless unbeaten 104, while Ed Cowan constructed a more patient unconquered 40.

Warner’s blazing bat saw him reach his second century – with a six off Umesh Yadav – in a mere 69 balls, the fourth quickest in Test history and the fastest of all-time by an opener. Along with Cowan, the run rate of 6.4 per over saw India nearly overhauled by stumps.

While he may be small of stature, Warner made the contest look like Gulliver taking on the Lilliputian XI as his every blow further demoralized the opposition. Each of his thundering strokes reduced the WACA Ground to the theatre of the absurd as the match spiraled out of control for the hapless Indians.

It is hard to imagine any way in which India can dig itself out of the cavernous hole it finds itself in. Unfortunately for its legion of fans it has been a shadow of its self in this series. Not long ago, the team ruled the international roost as Test world number one at the same time as being the newly anointed 50-over world champions.

It forfeited its coveted Test world number one status last year to England and now currently resides at number two, but for all intents and purposes, it is playing a brand of cricket at present that makes that ranking look a highly inflated one.

Whilst its batting has been well below the required level, India’s bowling has proved totally ineffective and carried the appearance of week old lemonade – flat and unpalatable. Since the loss of Cowan’s wicket in Australia’s only innings in the Sydney Test, India’s bowlers have claimed 1/771 and the way the Australian opening pair went about their business on the first day that figure may become even more embarrassing.

India can say whatever it likes off the field and may thumb its nose, or even finger the air, at its critics but when it comes time for action it has to produce more than the insipid performances it has thrown up across the last two Tests.

Tomorrow is a new day. India must approach it like that. This battle may have been lost, and with it the war as well. Yet, for the sake of Indian cricket, this current team has to draw a line in the sand and say enough is enough. The remainder of this series has to see a more measured, calculated and caring response to the current plight the team finds itself in.

The tourists have been wallowing in bewilderment like a dismasted yacht. Talk is cheap. Action sometimes requires courage and sacrifice. For India, the time is now.

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