Border-Gavaskar series: Where India have outplayed Australia so far
If we take a close look at how the two Test matches have panned out and how the teams have played, what we find is that one team has completely outplayed the other in every aspect of the game by a long margin. Here is a look at what what India did differently from Australia.
1) Bowling - For the first Test, knowing the Chennai pitch and the weather conditions very well, Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni fielded a team with 3 frontline spinners and a medium pacer which actually paid dividends as the Indian spinners took more wickets than the Australian spinners. Indian spinners took a total of 19 wickets in the first Test in comparison to Nathan Lyon‘s 4. Australia packed their side with 3 fast bowlers, with Henriques playing the role of the 4th bowler. Australia, failing to gauge the conditions well and playing a completely wrong team, paid the price of being beaten comprehensively by the strong Indian performance. Indian bowlers were dominant in the second Test as well as India fielded the same squad they fielded in the first, with the Indian spinners proving to be effective once more by picking up 14 wickets in the match. The Australian bowling in the second Test was better than in the first as both their spinners and fast bowlers did manage to pick up wickets. Doherty, who replaced Lyon in this match, picked up 3 in the match with Maxwell picking up 4. But still, Ashwin, Jadeja and Bhajji were much much better bowlers than Doherty and Maxwell and the inexperience of bowling on Indian conditions was the major difference.
2) Batting - The Australian batting revolved round Clarke more than any other player, whereas for India it was more of a cumulative batting effort. India’s middle order had players like Tendulkar, Kohli and Dhoni and since all of them gave good contributions in Chennai, it made the job for the Australian bowlers that much more difficult. Except Henriques, who scored half-centuries in both the innings of the Chennai Test match, none of the other middle order batsmen stood up to the Indian challenge. Clarke too failed to provide any respite. The Australian batting at Hyderabad was even more pathetic as this time too the top order crumbled like a pack of cards. The second innings batting is surely a memory which the Aussies would like to forget as soon as possible. The batting let them down badly and that is a fact which even Clarke agreed to during the press conference. It will be interesting to see what sort of different approach the Australian batting comes up with in the next 2 matches.
3) Team Formation - Knowing the Chennai conditions very well, India decided to play a side with 3 spinners to gain the maximum out of the conditions whereas the Aussies packed their side with 3 frontline fast bowlers. Henriques and Watson filled in the fifth bowler’s quota and that was too much to ask from Lyon, the lone spinner. It was difficult for him as expected, and he was taken for truckloads of runs; a total of nearly 250 alone in the match. Having said that, he was their best bowler at Chennai and surprisingly he was dropped from the Hyderabad Test, a venue where he was expected to play. The failure of the Australian middle order in both the Test matches is another reason for their failure. Australia lost the plot by making the mistake of relying too much on Clarke.
With so much to think about for Australia in every department of the game, I personally feel that Mitchell Johnson should replace Peter Siddle and Steve Smith should replace one of the spinners as he gives his team that extra advantage of a good all rounder. With Usman Khawaja being rated highly, he should be given a game in place of either Hughes or Cowan; Warner is a constant in the team due to his attacking nature of play, which is crucial at the top of the order. Watson, Clarke and Wade make for a good middle order, but the question is how much support can they both give to Clarke?