India thrashed in a Day and Nightmare Adelaide Test

 By Kersi Meher-Homji

Is this real or am I having a nightmare? I kept asking myself as India with master batsmen Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane was bundled out for 36 in the second innings of the Adelaide day-night pink ball Test disaster.

I would any day prefer COVID-19 to INDIA-36 all out!

The Indian Express printed the photo of the scoreboard at the Adelaide Oval on its front page reflecting India’s batting capitulation in the day-night Test. The daily called it a “Day & Nightmare Test” and devoted an entire page to mourn “The Great Indian Batting Collapse”.

Mid-Day (India) headlined their story: “Adelaide Test: Low, low, low; before Santa’s Ho, ho, ho!”

On a sad Saturday of Indian cricket I did not notice any Indian flags fluttering in the crowd at the Adelaide Oval and heard no one chanting “India jitega, jitega”. Instead I kept humming “Hamne to jab kaliyan mangi, kanton ka haar mila” [we asked for flower buds, but received garlands of thorns] and “Jab dil hi toot gaya, ham jee ke kya karenge” [when our heart is broken, what’s the point of living?]

This Adelaide disaster reminded me of the 1952 Leeds Test when India had lost four wickets for no run against the frightening pace of debutant Fred Trueman and the swing of Alec Bedser. But then they were saved to some extent by Vijay Hazare scoring 56 runs and Dattu Phadkar (64) who added 105 runs for the sixth wicket.

How I wished for someone like Hazare or Phadkar would step out to bat to combat the pace of Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc at the Adelaide Oval last Saturday!

Credit where it is due and we must heartily congratulate the magnificent Aussie pace attack. But could not one Indian batsman stand up and say, “We are world beaters, I’ll use my feet and brain to nullify the attack”, and repeat this to his dazed batting partners?

This was the first Test in the series and the last one with Kohli. The pity and shame of it all is that India was ahead of Australia on the first two days with a 1-0 lead on the horizon but was decapitated on the third day.

After losing opening batsman Prithvi Shaw for a duck on the opening day, India recovered to 3 for 188. With both Kohli and Rahane in fine form, a team total of 300 was on the horizon. Just then Kohli, batting like a champion on 74, got run out and India lost 7 wickets for 56 runs.

Still 244 appeared a satisfactory total when Jasprit Bumrah, Ravi Ashwin and Umesh Yadav bowled out Australia for 191, trailing India by 53 runs. But for Australian skipper / wicket-keeper Tim Payne’s unbeaten 73, India could have had a lead of 100 plus.

However, the third and last day was a disaster for India, all out for 36. It is India’s lowest total in her 88 years of Test history. I still can’t believe it.

Needing 90 runs to win, Australia reached the target losing only two wickets. Australia’s opening batsman Joe Burns (51 not out) hitting a six to win the Test on the third day.

To lose a Test by eight wickets is no disgrace. But to be knocked out for 36 on a good batting pitch with not one batsman reaching double figures certainly is.

India has the batting and bowling abilities to defeat the hosts in subsequent Tests to lift the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in mid-January. Bur psychologically Australia is on top, especially with seasoned opener David Warner back in the side.

All India has to do is to lift their morale and use their feet. One’s mindset is more important than raw talent.

Let’s wait for the Melbourne Test starting next week to see the transformation of India’s mindset. What changes would I suggest in team selection?

Inclusion of a confident all-rounder like Ravindra Jadeja or Hardik Pandya or both will act as a tonic to the demoralized Indian team. “Sword-wielding” Jadeja is an adventurous left hand batsman, a left-arm spinner and an excellent fielder.

I would replace Wridhiman Saha with Rishbah Pant as wicket-keeper because he is a better batsman. Opening bat Prithvi Shaw had a horrible Test, being dismissed for a second ball duck and four in the Adelaide Test. About time promising batsman Shubman Gill, age 21, makes his Test debut to replace Shaw.

Lokesh Rahul and Rohit Sharma (if out of the ”˜pandemic bubble’) would lift India’s sagging spirit.

Injury to accurate pace bowler Mohammed Shami may rule him out from the series.

A bigger worry is that India will be weakened by the absence of their dynamic leader, world class batsman and about to become father Virat Kohli. But as former Indian great batsman and now a commentator for Channel 7 Sunil Gavaskar pointed out, India has won a few Test matches without Kohli in the past few years.

Batting legend Sachin Tendulkar was encouraging in his comment. He tweeted, “With the way India batted and bowled in the first innings, they were in the driver’s seat but the Aussies came back really hard.”

India should forget “the 36 massacre” and remember that they were on top down under when lifting the Border-Gavaskar Trophy two years ago in Australia.


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