All of six days it took for India to demolish an already demolished West Indian side. An innings and 272 runs in the first test, 10 wickets in the next being the margins of victory. However not much can be made of India’s performance though as the result of the match and the series was always a foregone conclusion. Instead of enjoying the win, fans are in fact disappointed and saddened at the levels to which red ball cricket has fallen to in the West Indies.The purpose of this series is little known and what value it adds to Indian cricket or cricket in general for that matter is up for speculation.
For years now we have followed this pattern of playing an ‘easy’ series before a tough tour. A cakewalk is often followed by a ‘trial by fire.’
Having said all this, there is no denying that this is India’s best chance of making history down under. The Aussies even at their weakest are usually a tough side to beat in their home conditions. Sure, they do have the mighty trio of Cummins,Starc and Hazlewood as well as the brilliance of Nathon Lyon at their disposal.
However this Australian side shouldn’t exactly intimidate any opposition. With their two
main batsmen out of cricket,the kangaroos do have more than a few headaches in the batting
department. This tour doesn’t induce as much fear as the England tour for other reasons as well. The one thing that the Indians have improved on, in leaps and bounds is their ability to play pace and bounce.
Even on the last tour the batsmen piled on the runs rather convincingly. As long as it comes through straight we don’t have an issue, which is strange really since traditionally swing was India’s second problem child after pace. These wickets should suit stroke-play barring the MCG which has turned into an uncharacteristically slow wicket ever since they started using the drop-in wickets. Perth has forgotten all its past glory and gone on to become one of the nicer places to bat on. Adelaide Oval has stayed true to its docile nature while Sydney has always been home away from home for India with the turn it offers.
The team which is touring Australia also instills confidence. Rahul and Shaw seem to be a pretty strong pair who like pace on the ball. Pujara is solid at 3. Nothing much to be said about the genius that is, Kohli. Rahane is also the kind of player who would enjoy these conditions. Pant has been mightily impressive up till now and is exactly the dasher we need coming in at 6/7 in those conditions.
Our country’s favourite punching bag these days, Hardik Pandya can be a really important player in
those conditions-another guy who would enjoy the easy paced wickets down under. In those conditions against that attack you need to match fire with fire. Hanuma Vihari did score a 50 in his debut innings but the innings ,in itself was far from convincing. He seems to be your typical fighter, good for a ‘gritty’ half century every now and then but not exactly someone who would give the opposition bowlers sleepless nights. The Aussies always enjoy to bowl to someone who is not taking the attack to them where they can just peg away at good areas. But aggressive stroke players have often worried them in the past. Guys like Tendulkar, Sehwag, Lara, Laxman and Richards have all had great records there while
Dravid’s average of 42, for instance on the Australian shores is impressive but well below his career
average. Apart from an unreal series in 03-04, the great man has found it tough in this part of the world.
Specially coming in lower down the order the need to score quick runs would be paramount given
India’s never ending tail which would comprise of three potential no.11’s. His bowling has also improved immensely since he first burst on to the international scene. Australia is one country where he can test out his favourite spot(the middle of the pitch).
The pace battery seems to be sorted. 3-4 top class seam/swing bowlers is a luxury not everyone can
afford after all. Also,the variety in the attack is staggering.Ishant is your perfect hit the deck
bowler.Bhumah is someone who can create awkward angles and bowl pretty quick.Shami,the old ball specialist and Bhuvi the out and out classical swing bowler. The one element that too me completes the jigsaw puzzle is Kuldeep Yadav. Sure,the extra 20 30 runs at the bottom can be crucial. Ashwin and Jadeja can be perfect for those roles. But their bowling in overseas conditions has looked flat for the most part. To add to that both of them are finger spinners.Barring Nathon Lyon not too many finger spinners have had a merry time in Australia.
The greatest of them all Mutthiah Muralitharan averages a whopping 75.42 in that part of the world. The wizardry of the great Shane Warne,the guile and class of the late great Richie Benaud or even the magic of Pakistani Mushtaq Ahmed, on the other hand have always come to the fore in Australia. Drift and bounce are as important to a wrist spinner as turn and there is no shortage of those things in Australia. To add to that, off late especially, the Aussies have shown great
vulnerability to wrist spinners, especially mystery spinners. No wonder then, that Kuldeep Yadav can indeed be our trump card and not a mere filler for the main show.To add to all this, it is heartening to see India likely to play as many as three- four-day warm up games ahead of the all important test series.
The cliché ‘Now or never’ couldn’t be more true for his tour. With arguably the weakest Australian side and a semi-confident but talented Indian side visiting them this time round, this has to be our best chance.