India were unblemished in their long home season until the Australians arrived to spoil the party. Heading into the four-match Test series against Australia, India had won eight out of their previous nine Tests. The men from Down Under had been thrashed 3-0 in their last sojourn in the subcontinent and there were many who predicted a 4-0 whitewash of the visitors.
However, fast forward to day one of the second Test of the series, it is the Australians who appear as the team who could inflict a whitewash on their opponents. A 333-run win in the first Test in Pune stunned Virat Kohli's high-flying men. India were bowled out for scores of 105 and 107 in their two innings in Pune and had no answer to the visitors' spin bowling combination of Steve O'Keefe and Nathan Lyon. While it was O'Keefe who was the hosts' chief destroyer in Pune, Lyon assumed that role to perfection in Bengaluru as the visitors bundled the hosts to a paltry 189.
In the 16 overs that the Australians faced on day one of the Bengaluru Test, they presented a solid front and were largely untroubled unlike the Indian batsmen who were uncharacteristically meek against spin.
While one thought there were early demons in the Bengaluru pitch, it was more a case of demons in the minds of the Indian batsmen. Low on confidence, the Indians were very tentative in their shot selection, allowing Lyon to profit. Most of the hosts' batsmen remained on the back foot, waiting to react to the delivery and perished to some quality bowling from Lyon. The Australians managed to instill doubts in the minds of the Indian batters, who either were too defensive or too erratic while tackling Lyon and Co.
The Australian innings on the other hand was quite contrasting as their batsmen, who have suffered against spin in the past but looked far more composed at the crease.
India's problem is more mental. They are finding it hard to get over the mauling they received in Pune. It is evident that they are not playing the way they so efficiently do on the subcontinent tracks. Credit must go to Australia for knocking India off their rhythm, but the hosts must pause for a while, take a deep breath and recollect all the right things they have done on the cricket pitch in the last six months. The game is all about momentum and just as it did for the visitors, one good session could get India firing again.
For that though, they must hit the refresh button, back their abilities and play aggressive cricket on day two. The Australians don't have much to look back to for inspiration apart from the Pune Test in the subcontinent and India for once, must make them feel uncomfortable. The first session will obviously be crucial and Kohli and Co must ensure they win that. They need to make early inroads in that Australian top order and create panic in their batting order. There is enough turn and bounce in the wicket to keep Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin interested and once they get into the rhythm, the Australians could find it hard.
The hosts must start afresh. They need to back themselves to be that unstoppable force they have been all throughout this home season if they are to get back into this Test match and the series as well.
A lot hinges on day two of the Bengaluru Test, and India should enter the field believing that they can make it a turning point for them in the series.