Strike one for India occurred when Gilchrist won the toss and decided to bat and in the process out-batted and out-bowled India in the Bangalore Test. Congrats Australia! They were worthy winners by a long shot.
Their "for real" strong batting lineup was obviously superior to the "formidable on paper" Indian batting lineup. That's just what the Indian batsmen showed themselves to be - paper tigers. In my previous column I had predicted that the Indian batting lineup would capitulate like nine pins and they duly answered my prediction. Haven't we seen enough re-runs of this fare?
Strike two for India was not too far in the form of Sachin Tendulkar predictably being ruled out of the entire series just as I had predicted in my earlier column. It was fairly obvious that Tendulkar would be cooling his heels throughout the series because, as I had earlier stated, his frame is weak from overuse. That is now the exact reason being cited for his delayed recovery! What that means for India now is "TINA" (There Is No Alternative) but to stick with the overrated "Paper Tiger" batsmen they have in the squad.
Aakash Chopra atoned for his poor batting display with 4 good catches, as did Yuvraj. After seeing the way his fellow "great" batters collapsed, Dravid went into his shell of inactivity - a past habit we had all hoped he had forgotten. However, 457 runs to win against Australia is an arduous task no matter which batting lineup is concerned. The goal then should have been to dig in their heels and see the match through to a draw or each of the "top" batsmen should have resolved to score at least 40 runs and then the target would have been achievable. Those reading this column might say, "Are you crazy? 457 runs is a very large total for a fourth innings!" But, for a team that's hungering for the #2 spot that would have been an achievement worth aiming for. Remember how Gavaskar dug his heels to score 221 at the Oval to bring India within sight of what would have been an epic victory? He did the same in the famous Port - Of - Spain win.
Adam Gilchrist made sure not to ask the Indians to follow on. He probably had in mind that his homeland holds the dubious record of being the only team to lose 3 Tests to opponents who were asked to follow on!
I am sure many an Indian fan wondered whether a Dravid - Laxman colossal partnership was again on the cards, but Warne put paid to those chances. The Indian tailenders did a great job even though the result was never in doubt.
Harbhajan Singh did marvelously with the ball to take a 10 plus wicket haul again. After seeing what the tailenders accomplished by their resolute batting in the fourth innings, I hope the other "classy" batsmen sat and watched with admiration as opposed to cynical smirks.
If people in India take to the streets with protests over this defeat, do not malign them. For a team that gets the best of everything including hefty paycheques, they are rightfully expected by their fans to deliver when the chips are down and not fold up like a deck of cards on a three-legged table!
It is one thing to start a series overseas with a loss because acclimatizing does not come easy sometimes. However, when visitors get a leg up on the home team, what excuse is there? The acclimatizing card will not work there will it? Or are the Indian players spending so much time abroad (advertising) that India is no longer home turf but an away turf?
One begins to wonder if this is the start to a 4 - 0 Aussie whitewash or will India rebound? If they do, how long will that take? Are the Indian players really fit or are some going to break down this time around also? It is true, catches make matches, but only when the total is defendable. Sunny Gavaskar said that the Indians are still in the ODI mode. So when will they get to the Test mode? Hopefully not at the next ODI tournament!
Is strike three right around the corner for the Indian team? Or will we see a comeback? One thing is for certain, the Aussies had their plans laid out and so far they are working like a well-oiled machine. Can the Indians outthink the Aussies at this stage? From what transpired in the first Test it looks like all the Indian players are in the same book but on altogether different pages! That does not make good reading for the home crowd but does make a good comedy for the opponents to laugh at to no end.