India must be ruing the fact that it could not put Australia under pressure during the Second Test match at the sun-soaked Gabba stadium at Brisbane. India ought to have got a big total under their belt especially after they were at one stage 311/4. But they collapsed and let the Aussies get back into the game. Once the Aussies got the window, they bounced back in the Test after a spell of nerves. The Aussies at one stage, chasing India’s target of 408, were tottering at a precarious 247 for 6. A fine century by skipper Steve Smith ( 133), his sixth overall and second of the series and his fighting 148-run seventh-wicket stand with Johnson (88) bailed out the Aussies. Later Mitchell Starc added India’s agony with a quick 52.
But Indian bowling once again flopped and failed to wrap up the Aussie lower order. They bowled without a plan and helped Australia not only to get away but even take a crucial first innings lead by 97 runs. The fact that India bowled aimlessly and without any success was admitted by Indian pacer Umesh Yadav while interacting with the media after the end of the third day’s play. Yadav said: “In the morning session, we were in a good position. But after that we started leaking runs. Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc got runs and they had a good partnership with Steve Smith. I feel we conceded 50 runs more than we should have.”
Indian bowlers’ inability to bowl out Australia is not something new . It has been talked about many a time but no lesson or solution seems to be in sight. How can one expect to win a test match when one allows fast-bowlers Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc to score 88 and 52 respectively and toy with the bowling attack? This is really quite baffling . Had it been a Shane Watson , one could have understood had he done it simply because he is a top-class batsman and one of the best all-rounders in business when in his groove. But letting speedsters Starc and Johnson dictate terms is hard to digest.
If India continues to bowl in this woeful fashion then it faces a very tough task in defending the World Cup in 2015. Already, India’s bowling weaknesses have been clearly exposed and should be a cause for headache for chairman of selectors Sandeep Patil and Co. along with skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and team director Ravi Shastri.
At the end of Day 3, it is Australia that is on top and India have their backs to the wall at Gabba at the moment. It will take a marathon batting effort on India’s part to save this Test match. It will be a test of patience for the Indian batsmen when they come out to bat on the fourth day. Virat Kohli is in sublime form. He needs support from the other end. Murali Vijay, Ajinkya Rahane have shown the grit and the intent. It is now up to the likes of Pujara, Dhawan, Rohit to emulate this attribute quickly for Team India’s sake. Then only India can hope to level the series. Moreover, Team India would do well to watch videos of legends Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman, how masterly they played the waiting game and tamed the Aussies at their backyard during tours of 2003-04 and in 2008 . With India battling to save the Gabba Test, they desperately need some inspiration to bail them out of the precarious position they are in. Will they succeed? Only time will tell. Watch this space for more…