By V.N. Prasad
Our boys flew ‘Down Under’ after a seemingly insipid and avoidable series against the Calypsos. Recalling the mighty Windies over decades from the 60s, one wonders if they will ever build to their past strengths at all. Though our boys had a few hiccups, the Windies proved much below par in all the three formats.
Our boys carried the euphoria to ‘Down Under.’ We cannot forget that the OZs sans Smith and Warner is lackluster. The ‘T-20’ series should have gone our way 2-0 — but for the washed out match at Melbourne. Duckworth-Lewis formulae remain as unpopular as they were when it started. Not the best brains have been able to get the logics.
Coming to the test series, congratulations to our boys for the victory at Adelaide Oval. A victory in the very first test gives the much needed confidence going forward. We should indeed win the series. From the viewpoints of protagonists, it is relevant to examine the following facts.
1. K.L. Rahul factor is worrisome. Mike Atherton at the ‘Oval Test’ commented thus about KLR: “How can a batsman of the caliber of Rahul be so inconsistent”? KLR scored a blazing 149 at the Oval; after a series of failures earlier on the English tour. Worries seem to continue down-under too; as he is unable to make a mark. After scoring 44, he was out to a poor stroke.
2. Both KLR and Murali Vijay are lucky that the vacuum in 1&2 continue to stare at the selectors. Murali is simply not competent to hold the place any more — with his tendency to play 7th stick outside of his off-stump. Ironically, all our best batsmen were out in the 1st innings playing the 7th stick.
3. On a flat-track like Adelaide Oval, we should have looked at over 400 in the 1st innings to have the OZs on the mat. That perhaps would have created a better edge than a 31 runs victory against a depleted side.
4. Visibly, our boys had butterflies in the stomach when Starc, Cummins and Lyon combination was heading towards the target. And that does not speak well of our bowling acumen.
5. Strange that none of the OZ batsmen was able to get a century in their own backyard on a flat track.
6. Between Ashwin and Lyon, the ‘Off-Spin’ technique was used very wisely by Lyon — as the best of our boys in Virat, Rahane, Pujara and Rohit virtually danced to the catenary of Lyon’s flighted deliveries. Ashwin did get wickets — but was not unplayable.
7. Importantly, our pacers need to sharpen abilities to bowl ‘Yorkers’ and ‘Slower Ones.’ Though all the three did a great job, far too many were sprayed out-side of the stumps.
8. Last but none the least, Virat’s euphoria over victories need to be balanced. Especially, banging the ball on to the turf looks very awkward and uncultured. For the reputation he has built across cricketing world, he needs to handle victories with dignity.
Best of luck to the boys as they go to Perth to play on a new pitch. Surely, it will carry pace and bounce as did the earlier one. Rohit will be too happy to bat on such track.