Border-Gavaskar Trophy: How Aussies can avoid whitewash
After observing the performance of the Indian cricket team in the first two Tests against Australia, one has to admit there has been something worth boasting about in their overall game-plan and execution. Granted there have been lapses, with some players contributing excessively and some hardly making their presence felt but even amidst these lapses the beacon of Indian cricket shone through, dispelling the gloom of the past few months of cricketing humiliation. With the hosts already 2-0 up in the series and Australia literally staring at rock bottom, the further trajectory of the Test series seems to be quite predictably veering towards India’s way.
But if there’s one thing cricket is not, that’s predictable. Which is why, even with the first two Tests firmly in India’s pocket, predicting a complete white-wash in their favour would be a tad bit presumptuous. On the other hand, though Australia may be at the end of their tether, as the clichéd phrase goes, it is still quite possible that they try and claw their way back into the tournament if they:
- Develop a backbone: When compared to any of the past Australian cricket squads touring India, the one presently touring India has perhaps displayed the least possible resistance to the Indian onslaught. While it may be reflective of the dearth of resources available at Australia’s disposal, it also underlines the major drawback plaguing them. The Australians of the past never gave up their spirit, no matter how the result might have played out. Fables have been written about the undefeatable Aussie confidence and swagger. Michael Clarke needs to find that elusive inspiration to boost his team’s morale – and also their chances to try and level the series.
- The batsmen stick to the crease: Barring a few batsmen here and there, most of the Australian batting line-up seems to be in a hurry to get back to the pavilion. The opening batsmen are a sorry excuse for the likes of Hayden and Langer while their middle-order just puts in a blink-and-a-miss appearance. Considering the fact that it’s Test cricket that’s being dished out and not the shorter formats of the game, the Aussie batsmen do need to step up and try and stick it out. Not go after every ball, like some Down Under version of Sehwag – of the past – but just wait patiently for the bowlers to commit a mistake with their line and length and then belt it appropriately.
- Don’t drop bowlers willy-nilly: Nathan Lyon was costly in the first Test but he also helped pick four wickets in the match. In the second Test, he was dropped and Glenn Maxwell was picked in his place. The Australians need to get their priorities straightened out and not drop players at random. Especially bowlers, considering the glaring emptiness that stares back at them in that department. Who knows, Nathan Lyon could have contributed with more than seven wickets in the second Test and the Aussies wouldn’t have had to face the insult of an innings defeat being piled atop the injury of losing the first Test. Spinners are the key for Australia. They might be costly, but they’ll do the trick.
- Tactical employment of available resources: Both in Chennai and Hyderabad, Australia went on to win the toss but lost the matches. Although many might consider winning the toss a primary victory, this has definitely not happened in Australia’s case. At Mohali, irrespective of whom the toss favours, Michael Clarke needs to put on his thinking cap and marshal his troops appropriately. It’s not as if the Indian side is invincible. For the Australians at this point, it all boils down to how they use and exploit the available talent rather than bemoan the retirement of their Goliaths.
In addition to these, there’s one more reason why Australia can make their way out of their cricketing misery. As competent and thorough India have been this far, the Indian team is not exempted from over-confidence. Over-confidence has many a time crashed the Indian cricketing dream, brought the fans to an unfavourable reality and so goes the litany of complaints. All the Australians need to do is keep talking about their two-match loss and hinting at the Indian squad’s superiority. The Indian team is well capable of taking care of the rest. Like how Gambhir kept talking about his and Sehwag’s opening partnership being amongst the best in the world. Not only have both been axed from the team, but an untried and untested opening combination lies in wait.
Australia have lost their last 6 Test matches in India on a trot now. They need to employ some serious measures to make sure the tally doesn’t go up to 8 by the end of this month.