On Day 2 of the Boxing Day Test match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, India declared their innings at 443/7 with only six overs left in the day. Chesteshwar Pujara scored a sublime century while Mayank Agarwal, Virat Kohli, and Rohit Sharma scored impressive half centuries.
While India's batting performance was commendable, the rate of scoring has raised a few eyebrows. Right from the start of play on day 1, the Indians approached the innings at an extremely slow pace.
The visitors ended their batting effort with a run rate of only 2.61. Apart from Rohit Sharma and Rishabh Pant's, no batter's strike rate crossed 50 despite everyone playing at least 50 balls. Though, if the match ends in a draw, this approach will come into question, it was the right call by the Indian think-tank.
Firstly, the lifeless nature of the pitch was visible to every viewer. The MCG track had next to nothing to offer for bowlers. Neither did it have any swing or seam nor did it turn. However, despite giving not posing much threat to any batsman, it was still not an easy pitch to score runs off. The slow nature of the track made stroke-making extremely difficult. Additionally, the large and sluggish outfield did not help the batting team's cause.
Moreover, at the moment, India was better off batting for as long as possible. The current nature of the pitch is going to make taking wickets a difficult job on the pitch. Rather than risking gifting wickets to Australia, It was a wise decision to continue batting.
The best chance for India to win the match is if the pitch deteriorates and Australia has to bat in slightly tougher circumstances. The dismissals of Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane have shown signs of the uneven nature of the pitch. India will hope that the pitch shows more demons and their extremely potent bowling attack can take advantage of it.
Also, India's effort is one that will definitely have tired Australian bowlers. Nathon Lyon bowled 48 overs in the innings while each of the three frontline pacers bowled more than 25 overs. Even all-rounder Mitchel Marsh was called into action for 26 overs. The fatigue could help India mount a quickfire effort in the second innings and even the Sydney Test match with only a three-day break between the two games.
Lastly, keeping the conditions and situation aside, India's discipline and commitment to the cause was rather refreshing to see. Over the last year, poor batting has inevitably led to the team's downfall in the three overseas tours. Watching every batsman putting a price on his wicket was a rather refreshing sight and could end up being the difference from the previous two overseas tours.Published 27 Dec 2018, 14:55 IST