India: A Story Of So Near Yet So Far

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Halfway down the series, into the Boxing Day test, and the script couldn’t have been any worse for India. The odd voice against this argument might lament the fact that India has performed better and challenged Australia in their own backyard, and even have come close to winning; but the reality is reflected by the scoreline – 2:0 in Australia’s favour.

It has been another story of so near, yet so far, for India. Regrettably, the script doesn’t change for India. The new look squad has shown promise, but the team hasn’t been able to string these performances together and yield positive results. The sole issue with this “process important than the result” theory, is that it has been the same frustrating,  since long  – South Africa, New Zealand, England, and now Australia. The individuals have been doing well – batsmen have shown grit in tough conditions (Rahane in Lord’s, Kohli in Johannesburg and Adelaide, Pujara at the Wanderers, Vijay at the Gabba), bowlers have also bowled inspiring spells (Bhuvneshwar Kumar at Trent Bridge and Lord’s, Ishant Sharma at Lord’s), they just haven’t done it together as a team – losing crunch moments on the field, and eventually slipping matches.

As a commentator of Indian cricket, it is getting really exhausting to pen down the moments India has lost from winning positions; the list is huge – most recent entrants being Adelaide and Gabba.

India has been missing out on  putting that final nail in the coffin in tests. They have been observed to run out of ideas to close five-day matches, and that has been the story so far.. Australia, as it always does, has thrived on this, and now sees itself sitting on an unassailable lead in the series.

And this is also an Australian side going through a restructuring phase. Michael Clarke has been out, Ryan Harris has struggled for fitness, and Peter Siddle, Shane Watson, Chris Rodgers, Shaun Marsh, Brad Haddin have all struggled for consistent performances – yet therelatively inexperienced Australians have managed to push India to a corner. Australia has had to find another backup for the injured Mitchell Marsh for the Boxing Day test in Joe Burns. The probable playing XI of Australia for tomorrow’s test doesn’t come any close to the threatening teams of the last two decades, yet they must be fancying a win against India.

India might have the services of Bhuvneshwar Kumar back for the next two tests. While he may add stability to the bowling attack, I still don’t see India picking 20 wickets. They have managed only 28 in four innings. The MCG pitch might offer something for every discipline, but has it ever mattered for India in overseas conditions? They somehow manage to lose every time!

Ricky Ponting has shrugged off India’s chances already, and is still rooting for an Australian whitewash. No matter how every Indian cricket fan wants that statement to be proven false, the trends show that India might well be on course of the prediction.

Better application, a better mindset, and a good result for the performance is what this test team needs to escape yet more embarrassment away from home.

Vikas Arora

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