By V.N. Prasad
The new pitch at the brand new stadium at Perth was not a deck reminiscent of MECCA of WACA. In fact it was a ‘Grave Yard’. The old one was known for its bouncy tracks where pacers invariably made hay. The new one was softer with cracks that opened up gradually over the days. Uneven bounce caused anxiety in batsmen. Relevant is that the conditions were common to both the sides and the team that emerged triumphant was the OZs — undoubtedly. 146 runs victory over the ‘Numero Uno’ side in the world will pump up the Kangaroos to inflict further blows that may take away the series from us.
Redeeming feature of the test, however, was that the tacit office Nathan Lyon emerged the hero. The ‘finger spinner’ bowled magnificently. I loved the way he sneaked through Murali Vijay’s bat & pad in the second innings. Yet again, there were no batting performances that exhibited class of international competence — barring the brilliant century of Virat. Both the sides lack the spine in 1, 2 and 3; very necessary to build the crescendo to the 5th day uncertainties.
The victory was highly predictable even before KLR and MV took the crease on day 4. It was only a question of time on the pitch that was wearing fast.
I would opt to put KLR and MV on the plane and advise them club cricket back in India. Whereas MV is in the evening of his career, KLR needs to figure out whether earnings from local cricket are good enough for sustenance or prestige of playing for the country should be prime on mind.
On the other hand, MV needs to hang up his boots. Hanuma Vihari appears in a good mould; but is psychologically constrained to play freely — thanks to the hole left behind by the earlier ones. Even Rahane fails to impress; though he may get away with flamboyance at times. In sum and substance, our top order and tail are so flappy that the middle order suffers the brunt.
Lyon was spot on when he said “The Indian selectors missed a point while picking replacement for the injured Ashwin. Kedar would have been a better choice than the erratic Umesh Yadav.” We should however admit that the other pacers Bumrah, Shammi and Ishanth did a commendable job. Whereas Bumrah and Ishanth were fairly predictable, Shammi bowled rather lazily till lunch and later produced that brilliant spell after lunch on the 4th day.
The OZs, however, took advantage of the lead to seal our fate. For the OZs, Starc, Cummins and Hazzlewood were good but not the best. Our guys were none inferior. In the melee, magical Lyon stood out.
I agree with Manjrekar and Naseeruddin Shah about Virat’s ‘on-field’ behaviour. Over reactions to dismissals, confrontation with Paine etc., were all painful to watch; though Clarke (Pup) defended Virat in the Extra Innings — Sunny and Butcher used words cautiously. Surely Ravi would have talked to him. Good Virat admitted that his wife Anushka is correcting his mistakes from time to time. The country pleads for graceful disposition of our captain — in the mould of Mahi. In fact, Paine exhibited class both in captaincy and mental balance.
Congratulations to OZs on their splendid victory. In fact their 146-run victory was more authentic than the 31-run victory of ours at Adelaide. We hope that ‘Boxing Day’ test will reverse sentiments and results in our favour.