The name of the game is turn around – after the loss at Hobart, Michael Clarke and Co. had a lot to prove and a 4-0 score-line against India will definitely do a world of good for Clarke. India, after the England debacle, were also in a similar position. But were they expected to prove anything? Well, not all. The turnaround had happened before this Australian tour itself!!! During their home series against West Indies, India supposedly were at their dominant best, the same way they were once the No.1 ranked Test team (apparently). But the England episode was just an aberration as many were pointing out and will BCCI and Dhoni consider this ‘Blunder Down Under’ to be an aberration second time in a row?
During the post match presentation, Dhoni had said in a very casual manner (or was he being serious in a casual manner) that this is just the second time in a row the batters have failed in overseas tours. Considering the fact that the next major tour or Test series to be specific for India will not be happening in the near future, the batters failing a third time in a row seems a distant reality for now.
Dhoni also came out boldly taking all the blame for team’s poor show and in a way he is right here. His disappointing personal form is something he needs to worry about, his lack of tactics in Test matches (ONLY IN TESTS) is again something he needs to work upon. Yes, it is true that he has been taking a lot of workload off late. Captaining a team like India in all the three formats plus being behind the stumps all the time with concentration is very much taxing and add to that IPL, CLT20 duties (though, the latter two are his personal choices). Also, handing Vinay Kumar the debut at the WACA when you are 0-2 down with the likes Abhimanyu Mithun at your disposal is a very erroneous selection to make.
Anyway, moving on from Dhoni bashing or for that matter the batsmen bashing, a turnaround is only possible if hard decisions are made; a turnaround not in the current series, but a turnaround in their fortunes overseas. A valiant knock of 75 in the second innings and a gritty 31 in the first by Kohli should end the ‘Rohit for Kohli debate’. As was the case in England the openers have struggled here as well. One of the main reasons for Australia’s success during early 2000 was the Hayden-Langer pairing at the top and incidentally, one of the reasons for their slump in form last year was the failure of the Phil Hughes- Shane Watson pairing.
Changes on the top should be imminent
Here in this tour, Australia lost the services of Watson but made two bold decisions. They backed the ‘ T20 specialist’ David Warner and plucked out Ed Cowan for his spectacular form last season in the domestic circuit. Their pairing fired and the team got positive results. Sehwag-Gambhir pairing again was very instrumental in India’s success on home soil but outside India, the Delhi lads have failed to combine. Right from the South Africa tour in January last year, the openers’ stats have been very disheartening. In the last 12 overseas innings, their partnership have been 1, 137, 19, 27, 8, 3, 22, 17, 0, 18, 4, 24. Even against a lowly West Indies at home they both failed to knit together a century stand. Sehwag’s personal form is no less disappointing with his last major score in Tests (151) coming way back in 2008 against New Zealand. Ajinkya Rahane who travelled to England, and played in the ODIs had impressed with his footwork and skill to negotiate the moving ball. To try out this domestic run-machine at the top in the Adelaide Test would not be a bad bargain at all.
Also, the ban on Dhoni means that Wriddhiman Saha would get a lucky opportunity at No.7 and more importantly, Sehwag would have to lead the team instead.
Rohit Sharma in for VVS Laxman
This could potentially be VVS Laxman’s last tour and his eleven ball duck in the second innings could be his last. But with the rumors of a possible retirement, he might as well be given a last go at Adelaide. But again, taking Rohit Sharma on a full-fledged tour and not making him play would be rather disappointing for him.
Also, Ravichandran Ashwin being dropped for Vinay Kumar was a flawed decision. Nevertheless, this medium pacer failed to impress and any comparison to Praveen Kumar was very well squashed by David Warner en route to his rampaging 180. So to give Pragyan Ojha a chance would be very ideal and apart from some entertaining batting, Ravi Ashwin’s bowling was very mediocre. Pragyan being a left-armer would definitely pose a challenge to the Australian batting line-up and this would be a perfect platform to test how good Ojha actually is.
This series Down Under is already done and dusted, and it is time for the cricketing authorities to sit down and do an Argus committee like introspection of the game, plus, decide on how to phase out the seniors in the best way possible for them and for the game.