Bad decision-making and sub-par openers seriously hurt India in Perth.
But with indications of a better team balance, India could be in a much better position in Melbourne. At 1-1, the Test series between India and Australia is finely balanced. But Virat Kohli is having a tough time explaining the abject failure of the Indian team in Perth, which is in stark contrast to the Aussies who went down fighting in Adelaide. While the Indian team simply capitulated to fold up at 140 from an overnight score of 112/5, the Australian team lost in the previous match by a razor thin margin of 31 runs.
The match had turned in Australia’s favour on Day 1 itself, when the openers Harris and Finch put together 112 runs for the first wicket. Our DKODING feature on that day had talked about the risk India had taken by playing a four-pronged pace attack with no spin option.
Australia had their noses well in front when they were let off easily to post a mammoth first innings total of 326. Contrast that with India, where both openers folded in the first innings under with the score on 8. In his comments after the match, Kohli has admitted that they were not considering a spin option like Jadeja since the beginning. In fact, he says India would have gone with the pace option even if Ashwin had been fit.
Our worst fears were further justified when Aussie off spinner Nathan Lyon delivered a terrific performance in both innings. He took five wickets in the first innings and three wickets in the second (when he also took the wicket of Virat Kohli himself).
Nevertheless, critics would do well to understand other factors – India is the visiting team here and Perth is always viewed as a paradise for pace bowling. So it was a calculated risk taken by India that unfortunately backfired. The greatest positive in this match was a spectacular century by Virat himself in the first innings, while most other batsman failed miserably in the face of a relentless Aussie attack.
There are more positives for Kohli to look forward to in the upcoming test matches – Hardik Pandya is reaching Australia, and could prove to be the vital all-rounder option that India needs. Moreover, they can afford to drop one pace bowler and bring in Yadav or Jadeja.
Karnataka batsman Mayank Agarwal is also joining the squad as Prithvi Shaw has been ruled out due to injury. He will probably provide the opening option India badly needs.