Five things India needs to do to ensure a series victory against the Aussies
Shed the complacency:
Spinning wickets, troika of spin bowlers and the vulnerable batting line-up of the opponents: perfect ingredients for a whitewash, aren’t they? But wasn’t something similar said after India’s splendid Test victory against England at Ahmedabad? India, I am sure would have learnt their lessons against England. The complacent Indian team got a wake-up call and all of a sudden the strengths that they were banking on to win the series (spin bowling) was neutralized by the batting genius’ of Kevin Pietersen and Alastair Cook.
Sure this Australian side does not have a spinner of the pedigree of Graeme Swann or Monty Panesar but Clarke’s side surely is a talented bunch of guys, who know how to win Test matches. This current Australian side is the only side that has troubled the invincible South African Test team.
After the first Test match India had a lot of unanswered questions. Apart from Ashwin, the bowling looked pedestrian. Dhoni’s 224 took the game away from the opposition but that was once-in-a-lifetime innings. The openers need to put their hands up and start contributing regularly.
Not to expect spinners to deliver all the time:
The sixth over of the first innings and the first over of the second innings; every time India is in trouble or wants to dictate terms, Dhoni turns to his spinners. Yes, spin is India’s forte but over-reliance on the spinners to win the Test match is not a healthy sign.
When Clarke accelerated in the first innings against the spinners, Dhoni had no Plan B. The same was the case when Moises Henriques attacked the spinners in the second innings.
The pace bowlers, it seems, are there in the team just to take the shine off the ball. Apart from using them in brief spells in the late afternoon session on day one, mainly because of reverse swing, Dhoni has not looked at them as wicket-takers.
Openers should fire:
The opening blues continue to haunt us. A solid opening combination will give selectors less headaches, since the game of musical chairs is being played for that position. There are another two regular openers warming the bench so if the openers fail like they did at Chennai, expect a lot of tinkering in the playing XI. The chopping and changing would lead to instability in the batting line-up.
A good start would also give the middle order chance to score more runs when the shine is taken off the ball. The Indian middle-order has really good players of spin bowling but they are equally susceptible against a new-ish ball.
Have the audacity to drop the non-performing players:
The reputation of the player gives him the nod ahead of the performing player. That has been the way India has selected its team. But do the selectors or the team management have the audacity to drop the non-performing players?
Harbhajan had a poor outing with the ball – agreed. But the expansive shot he played against Henriques was shocking. What’s the use of the 100-match experience if the veteran failed to read the match situation? The right message has to be passed to the non-performing players.
A hungry lot is waiting in the wings to get their opportunity. ‘Perform or perish’ should be the mantra if the team has to win the series without any jitters.
Talk less about the 22-yards and use the thing that is six inches above the shoulders:
India is a very good side at home. But when India wants tailor-made pitches to suit their bowling attack the problem creeps in. India then becomes a side that correlates its success with the quality of the wicket. Test cricket presents stern test of temperament, skill and class. Foreseeing any such trouble and neutralizing the threats takes the sting away from the contest.
So India should challenge the opponents even on a flat track or a green-top. What is the problem? Why is India afraid of failure? In fact this very team has humbled South Africa at Durban in 2010. If India continues to talk more about 22-yards then it is a big regression as far as their development as a Test team is concerned.
After all cricket is a mind game more than the cracks created outside batsman’s off-stump.