By Denzil Fernandes
Daijiworld Media Network
Jan 13: The story in the 3rd Test at Perth cannot be any different from the earlier Tests played in Melbourne and Sydney respectively. As is their style and habit now, the top half of the Indian batsmen fell promptly and punctually to exhibit their weakness against pace and when play ended on day one of the Perth Test, hosts Australia were sitting pretty with all their wickets in hand while replying with 149 runs without loss after having skittled India for a paltry score of 161 runs. Australia are behind by only 12 runs and once they clear that on day two in the morning, the massacre of the lambs is likely to begin.
The Aussie openers were replying as if they were playing a one day game. David Warner hammered the fourth fastest century in Test cricket while remaining unbeaten on 104 runs that included 13 fours and 3 sixes. Warner scored his half century in 36 balls and his century in 69 balls. His partner Ed Cowan at the other end played a quiet and supportive innings while scoring an unbeaten 40 runs with the help of six boundaries.
Australia won the toss and put India to bat. Indian opener, the ‘Nawab of Nazafgarh’, Sehwag, was quick to arrive at the wicket and was extra quick to go back to the pavilion without bothering the scorers at all. By the end of the fourth over, Sehwag was gone for nothing with the team score at only 4 runs on the board. Gambhir made one feel that he was batting confidently. At the other end, Dravid looked extremely uncomfortable and missed a few balls before he was yorked by Siddle for 9 runs with the Indian scoreboard reading 32 runs for the loss of 2 wickets. This was the ideal time for ‘little master’ Sachin Tendulkar to arrive and smash boundaries in pleasing style. Just when things were brightening up Harris who was making a comeback after missing the first two Tests surprised Tendulkar by trapping him right in front of the stumps. With his personal score at 15 Tendulkar was gone to add to the agony of the Indians.
As play began, both the teams packed their sides with four pace bowlers which meant that Vinay Kumar was making his debut for India. Another aspirant Rohit Sharma could not get the nod and had to cool his heels in the pavilion. However, Virhat Kohli did not disappoint the decision to retain him in the side with a score of 44 runs with six fours that helped India’s recovery. He was concerned in a partnership of 68 runs for the fifth wicket with Laxman (23) that looked like going till the end of the day. But the Aussie bowlers were in no mood to let the advantage slip away. With four wickets gone for 63 runs, Kohli too fell by falling to a brilliant catch taken by Warner off the bowling of Siddle. It was an all too familiar procession and just when tea was around the corner Laxman was picked up by Clarke to give Siddle his 3rd wicket before tea.
If you are a scorer in matches where India is batting it should not be a huge job if one looks at the pathetic display by India. Wickets keep falling like clockwork and the score when India folded at Perth was a low 161 runs. There was neither meaning nor method in the batting display of the Indians and the Aussie pacers knocked wickets much to their delight. Hilfenhaus had 4 wickets for 43 runs, Siddle 3 victims for 42 runs and Starc 2 wickets for 39 runs.
The Perth Test is again looking like ending in 4 days at the most. With some quick runs on the second day, the Australians will make mincemeat of the Indian bowling and put up a huge total which the Indians will find it difficult to overtake. There is no denying the truth that the visitors have succumbed despite promising an improved show in Perth.
Till now, not a single Indian has managed to post a 3 digit score in their innings. Except for Tendulkar no one else has been convincing at all. The bigwigs at the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) will once again open their books and read out statements about improving the results.
Sadly, things have not gone India’s ways. When one looks at the terrific batting display by David Warner and his enthusiasm whenever he plays, our cricketers cut a sorry figure in front of him. He has played in the Indian Premier League(IPL) also and has been one of the most prominent performers with the same level of energy and electricity. Same case when he plays for Australia. Our boys have to learn a few things from this gritty Australian. There is a spring in his steps whether he is batting, bowling or fielding. And don’t forget the grin when he wins the battle.
There is a looming fear that Indian cricket will fall into the dark days of the past sooner than later. Have no doubts about that. A huge vacuum will be created when the stalwarts depart from the team. That should happen quickly and the new entrants have to be groomed to face the stern test especially when we play outside the country. The image of the Indian team will take a battering once the Aussies demolish India with a clinical 4-0 win which they have aimed at. India’s Test rankings will fall and every other opponent will get a chance to outplay us.
Dhoni has done his best in the past but right now he seems to be going nowhere. While his captaincy has been questioned, even his batting has been pedestrian. For that matter, India as a team have collapsed. There is no single player who has been outstanding except for Tendulkar to a certain extent with his batting.
There does not seem to be any chances of a recovery with the Australians now regrouping and in complete control to punch India out of the contest. The knockout has been complete and the Indians have been thoroughly outplayed in every department of the game.
When play resumes on day two of the Perth Test, what kind of run carnage will be there is difficult to imagine. Unless of course, the Indian bowlers decide otherwise and manage to knock the Aussies out of the game. Wishful thinking one woud say, but then cricket is a funny game. Isn’t it? For India’s sake then, let us hope that things will turn on its head in Perth as play resumes on day two.