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Dhoni and his men face an onerous task

Dhoni and his men face an onerous task

India has leaked runs against the lower order and has also been prone to batting collapses

Closing out games from a position of strength is a fine art. Accomplished sides shut the escape routes for the opposition.

In both Adelaide and here, India left the door open for Australia to spoil the party.

It’s not ability alone that takes the side past the finishing line. Belief is equally important.

India competed, but lost. Behind 2-0 in a four-Test series, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his men face an onerous task.

There were so many moments in Brisbane where India could have nailed it.

The side was 321 for four in the first innings but could not really progress to a mammoth total. When it was bowled out for 408, Australia was in with a chance.

Then, India had Australia in trouble at 247 for six. The pacemen, though, lost their head under the Brisbane heat.

And Mitchell Johnson thrived on the barrage of short-pitched deliveries. An opportunity was lost.

While sledging is not recommended, teams that indulge in it — Australia is a prime example — do so in a manner that is calculated. They pick somebody who is vulnerable and weaken him mentally. What India did was to fire up someone — Mitchell Johnson — who is a distinct threat when roused.

Aggression in itself is not such a bad thing for two young bowlers with speed, Varun Aaron and Umesh Yadav. The two, perhaps, were carried away by the bounce in the surface. The short ball has to be employed judiciously. Only then, does it become a weapon.

It was here that senior paceman Ishant Sharma needed to step in and offer advice to the younger bowlers. But then, Ishant himself was banging it in.

When Australia’s last four wickets took the score to a daunting 505, India, once again, had allowed the tail to wag.

This is not the first time that the lower order has frustrated India.

The team-management needs to sit, discuss and come out with a clear game-plan to address the issue.

In the madness under the sun here, old fashioned good length bowling went straight out of the window.

If India has leaked runs against the lower order and the tail, the side has also been prone to batting collapses.

This is a potent combination when it comes to hurting a team’s chances.

In the Auckland Test this year, India, 138 for four was bowled out for 202. Then the side was 80 for two in Southampton but was bundled out for 178.

In the first innings at Adelaide in this series, India was 367 for four but was dismissed for 444. In the second innings, the side, shockingly, was back in the hut with a Test lost for 315.

India had been 242 for two going in to tea. It was a bold chase, but there cannot be any excuses for India losing the Test.

The captain and the team management, should have, after a certain point, played for a draw. India has fallen into an Australian trap.

And at the ’Gabba, India lost four wickets for 11 runs in a disastrous morning session on day four.

Collapses of this nature indicate two things — a lack of depth in the order and technical shortcomings.

Apart from the technically pleasing Murali Vijay and Ajinkya Rahane, to a certain extent, no Indian batsman has been able to handle the extra pace and bounce with confidence.

Virat Kohli’s hundreds on a very sub-continental Adelaide pitch were brilliant but he did not appear very comfortable in his movement towards the off-side at the much pacier ’Gabba.

Rohit Sharma would have realised that running up world record scores in the ODIs, on the flatbeds at home, is a lot easier than making runs down under. His weakness on or outside the off-stump is obvious.

While India has been at the receiving end of some rough umpiring decisions, it has not been a one-way traffic as made out to be.

Both Vijay and Kohli seemed clearly leg-before wicket during the chase in the first Test.

It was not so long ago, during the Ashes in England, that DRS made news for all the wrong reasons. India is unlikely to accept a system that is porous.

As for the ‘communication gap’ ahead of the fourth day because of an injury to Shikhar Dhawan’s wrist, professional sides, representing the country, are expected to handle such situations.

Source: The Hindu

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