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India vs Australia: A tale of two tails

By Jayanta Oinam | Last Updated: Saturday, December 20, 2014 - 18:05

In sports, numbers are everything. In a high stake series like the one between Australia and India Down Under, numbers are bound to excite. But beware, not all numbers will help keep sanity, especially if one is an Indian fan.

There were talks of a new crop of Indian cricketers ready and eager to fight for victory, then there are data which say their efforts are too effeminate even to challenge the lower-order batsmen of their opponent.

Some number crunching will give a clear view as to why most of the time, Indians fail to translate their good start to wins. For example, on Day 3 of the second Test in Brisbane, Indian bowlers failed to contain the Aussie tail and subsequently ended conceding 97 runs in the first innings.

With fortunes swinging either way every other session, and with so little room for doubt, these 97 runs proved decisive. And to the dismay of many Indian fans, these runs have been scored by tail-enders.

Australia's first innings scorecard reflects a too familiar pattern, against the Indians. Imagine half-century stands for the last two wickets and the picture is crystal clear. Indians just don't know how to clean up the tail. Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Starc and Test debutant Josh Hazlewood toyed with the Indian bowlers stitching those match-deciding partnerships.

And we are not even talking about Mitchell Joshnson, the batsman. When he arrived in the centre to give company to his skipper, their total was 247 for six wickets.

Then, the script took a turn. He and Smith made a mockery of Indian attack which a little while ago was riding a storm and looked to reduce the Aussie batting line-up to piles. The duo produced a century stand for the seventh wicket, a Gabba record. Besides the record, they demoralised the visitors, which allowed the remaining batsmen to repeat the script, in their favour.

Enhancing that crowned jewel, were the innings of Johnson (88), Starc (52), Lyon (23) and Hazlewood (32). What made those partnerships more daunting and intimidating was the run rate. It was always hovering above four an over, pretty Test unlike strike-rate.

In contrast, Indian tail had a barren look. Ravichandran Ashwin was all poised and substance and his skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni batted without a worry of retaining the strike. But once, Ashwin departed after making 35, Indian innings was folded as expected. Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron and Ishant Sharma failed to contribute even in double digits.

But, this expected part never arrived while Aussies were batting. That's the difference.

Now to the interesting part, the facts and figures.

In 2014, five 100-plus tail-end partnerships have already been posted against India. What's more damaging is, there are only seven 100-plus partnerships registered in the entire year. And if the tail-enders are enjoying such batting travesty, then the scoring rates must have been pretty high. Because, tail-enders are bowlers and the only way they know to bat is by hitting the ball, irrespective of the format.

In this case, the fact is ever more telling for India. Since 2010, tail-enders against Indians playing for their respective countries have scored at an astonishing rate of over four an over. Even more, in these 14 years, Indians have allowed their opponents to cross 400-mark (400-run mark) after having them five wickets down for 250 or fewer, seven times.

When the Day 4 started, India were savouring at least a draw. But yet another batting collapse helped Australia extend their unbeaten streak in Brisbane to 26 Tests. In the fourth Innings, India lost five wickets for 41 runs.

It's indeed surprising that India, after scoring 400-plus runs in the first innings, lost the match inside four days.

Certainly, in the presence of these figures, Indian fans ought to feel the blues.

First Published: Saturday, December 20, 2014 - 17:47

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