India vs Australia: Adelaide Test showed Aussies are up for a fight but failures of senior batsmen hurt them badly

Australia will take positives from the innings of Shaun Marsh in the second innings and Travis Head in the first. But for the hosts to be more competitive they need more than the great Australia aura to defeat India.

Gaurav Joshi, Dec 11, 2018 11:52:08 IST

In this first interaction with the press, India coach Ravi Shastri was asked if the Australian team had lost their aura? "I don't think so, once you have that sporting culture in you will always have that and I always believe that no team is weak at home," exclaimed Shastri.

For close to an hour on the fifth afternoon, Nathan Lyon exemplified the Australia's fighting qualities as the hosts pushed India all the way to the end. India eventually won the Test by 31 runs, but the visitors would have certainly had some nervy moments as the last three Australian wickets added 104 runs to raise the hope of the nation.

Australia's Shaun Marsh was the only player to score a fifty in their second innings as they chased a target of 323. AP

Australia's Shaun Marsh was the only player to score a fifty in their second innings as they chased a target of 323. AP

Lyon was the catalyst with an unbeaten 38 not out to go with his heroic bowling display of 6-122 in the second innings. But despite the resilience, Australia lost the Test. They started the match on the right note and also finished exactly how Justin Langer would have wanted them to - fighting until the last moment. But it is what transpired in between which will have the team's coach and captain disheartened.

Australia will be disappointed at the fact that they had India reeling at 127-6 in the first innings and allowed them to get 250. From the outset, Australia would have known they simply cannot miss a chance of being ruthless. They fielded and caught brilliantly, but it was with the bat and the ball where they were beaten by India.

The Australian bowlers are the experienced pack. They had to seize the key moments, so that the raw batting order could play with freedom. But once the bowlers allowed India to make 250 the onus shifted upon the senior batsmen such as Shaun Marsh and Usman Khawaja to post a decent total. Unfortunately, Marsh perished to a wide ball that he could have left and Khawaja was undone by a beautiful delivery by Ravichandran Ashwin.

First innings runs are a premium in modern-day Test cricket and once Australia trailed by 15 runs after the first outing, they were always going to play catch-up cricket. A look through the first innings scorecard highlights that three batsmen perished in between the scores of 25 and 35. While the experienced Khawaja was undone by lovely spinning delivery by Ashwin, Peter Handscomb and Marcus Harris succumbed, owing to poor shot selections, despite being well set.

Harris was playing his first Test, so we can give him some leeway, but Handscomb's shot selection in both innings must have left Langer scratching his head. Khawaja's second innings swipe across the line to Ashwin was also uncharacteristic as was Tim Paine's top-edged pull, which came only two balls after a drinks break.

Australia would have known from the start of the series that if they had to compete with India the batsmen would have to pull up their socks and put a heavy price on each wicket. It is easier said than done, especially when you have a top six that has only played 84 matches between them. No doubt the Australian batsmen will improve going forward, but they will regret the fact that they missed an opportunity on day two.

After the match, Tim Paine rue the missed opportunities: "there were a number of reasons why we lost. I thought we could have cleaned them up on day one for 200-210 and we let that slip a little bit. Clearly, we would like to score more than 230 first innings Australia and there were other things along the way. "

From a bowling perspective, Lyon was outstanding, Josh Hazlewood rarely put a foot wrong, Pat Cummins bowled his heart out, but it is the form of the strike weapon Mitchell Starc which will concern Australia.

Starc finished up with a respectable match figures of 5-103, but his bowling lacked the zip or the intimidation that Australians expect from him. It has been 11 innings since Starc took a five-wicket haul and the way Indian batsmen handled him must be concerning. However, it is rather harsh to demand more from the bowlers given they had bowled India out for 250 and 307 respectively.

The concern for Australia in the lead-up to the series was if they can compete with the Indian batting. On the evidence of Adelaide, they seem to have the talent and technique but lack the temparament to fight through the tough periods. It is something that will come with exposure to international cricket, but until then, the senior batsmen have very little room for error.

Australia will take positives from the innings of Shaun Marsh in the second innings and Travis Head in the first. But for the hosts to be more competitive they need more than the great Australia aura to defeat India.

Updated Date: Dec 11, 2018 11:52:08 IST







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