Going into Melbourne for the Third Test against Australia, Indian cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his men have their backs against the wall. While it was a case of so near yet far in Adelaide, the shocking batting collapse and the poor bowling at Brisbane has left the Indian fans in shock Down 2-0 in the series, India will have to really pull up their socks if they are to avoid another whitewash in Australia that legendary Aussie speedster Glenn McGrath had predicted before the Indians arrived Down Under.
What will concern the Indians ahead of MCG battle is how is the team spirit within the team. The spat between opener Shikhar Dhawan and vice-captain Virat Kohli is out in the open. The team management has not denied the rift. Hence there is all the reason to believe that all is not well in Team India camp right now. Further, what is adding to India’s woes is the talk of indiscipline in the side, as there are reports of speedsters Ishant Sharma and Varun Aaron arriving late on the fourth day of the Brisbane Test.
The Aussies are master of mind games and love to sledge at their rivals when they are down. Former mercurial Aussie opener Mathew Hayden, has lashed out at the Indian team ahead of the MCG Test, in a column for an Australian daily saying that Indian team thinks it is impossible to win abroad. “India’s biggest weakness is they don’t believe they can win away from home. Whether it’s starting the day badly or not finishing an innings like they should — they seem to go missing at key moments,” Hayden wrote in a column for The Daily Telegraph.
Giving a ray of hope in the series are the batsmen like opener Murali Vijay, Ajinkya Rahane and vice-captain Virat Kohli. But the failures of Rohit Sharma and inability of Chetehswar Pujara to play long innings like his idol, Indian batting legend Rahul Dravid, is a worrying part. Pujara is yet to produce a Dravid-like innings abroad. And this is hurting India since he is batting in the crucial number 3 slot.
Rohit Sharma’s laziness and lack of effort in Tests is shocking. Remember he went to Australia riding on his majestic 264 against Sri Lanka in the fourth ODI at Kolkata and had the world at his feet. But strangely in Australia, Rohit has looked completely out of sorts and has been struggling. He hardly looks like a player who has two double hundreds in ODIs under his belt. So will the team management drop Rohit for Suresh Raina? Given Rohit’s form and body language, bringing in a positive Raina would be good change. Raina with his energy has the ability to lift the team morale by being a live-wire on the field.
India’s bowling has been below par. Ishant Sharma, Varun Aaron and Umesh Yadav have shown some flashes of bowling well. But they have been very inconsistent and have failed to deliver the knock out blow. Ravichandran Ashwin anyways has a very poor overseas record and the wickets in Australia are definitely not much to his liking despite the huge confidence MSD has bestowed on him. One can easily see how much he is struggling to take wickets.
So there are problems aplenty for Team India, the onus now is on MSD to reverse the continuous losing trend under his captaincy in Tests abroad. It is time India wins Tests under MSD abroad as there are not many takers for his argument that the team is competing but unable to win. With Virat Kohli running down his neck as a probable Test skipper in the future , time is certainly running out for Mahendra Singh Dhoni as Test captain. Results at Melbourne and Sydney could well decide his future as Team India’s Test skipper. And probably this time he would not have a certain N Srinivasan to bail him out.