By Vincent Sunder
The feeling is akin to the agony of a doting parent of a single child, who consistently sees the child’s academic performance go from bad to worse. The hope that things will improve gets battered with failure after successive failure, each of which seems worse than the previous failure, leading to state of despair where finally faith recedes. Not the best of times to be a fan of Indian cricket, and David Warner is not the reason for that.
India saw at least one batsman consistently stand up in lost causes in England, but even that small crumb of comfort seems to be missing Down Under. The bowlers, who started with some spunk in the first two outings at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) and three quick wickets at Sydney, have thereafter been subjected to brutal battering. Team India’s failure has now progressed to become a collective failure, where personnel changes may still not make much of a difference to what transpires on the field.
Ironically, the only phase of hope and comfort during the first day of the Perth Test came from two men who were under the scanner – VVS Laxman and Virat Kohli. For a period that lasted 155 deliveries, the partnership between the two batsmen moved India from 63 for four to a score of 131. Both batsmen appeared set when Kohli’s failure to keep a drive down saw the end of a resolute fight back, which in the final analysis was just not adequate. When Laxman fell soon after and the Indian innings folded up in matter of just a couple of deliveries, the only consolation was that we had not folded up for a below three-figure score in the first innings.
It was not a pitch that had demons, nor was the bowling attack invincible. Against a disciplined and relentless Australian bowling attack, the dismissal of the top order came about with a mixture of both good deliveries and poor shot selection coupled with bad shot making, and it would look absurd for a follower of the game with no cricketing pedigree to make a comment that some of the stalwarts perhaps would have not been dismissed had they presented a full face of the bat to the deliveries that got them out. If the two wickets in quick succession just before lunch gave Australia a very firm upper hand on the first morning of the Test, the two wickets just before the tea break virtually broke the backbone of the batting. Warner’s assault thereafter seems to have snuffed out whatever hopes India may have entertained of getting back into the game.
All that Australia had to ensure was a decent batting display, but Warner chose to make amends for his three earlier failures with a knock that would have totally demoralised not just this side on the field but also the squads that would be lining up soon for the shorter version of the game.
It would take a very brave person to now suggest how India can change things around, as another defeat looms large, which is a telling comment after the end of just the first day of the Test. This is the format of cricket where a good spell of bowling or a good knock or a partnership can change the mood of sides and the direction of the game. Would that provide some crumb of hope to a fan or supporter whose side has had six consecutive overseas losses where India competed just in one Test is a big question mark.
If the performances, or the lack of it, have had one impact on the sports business media and fans, it is that the much-awaited hundredth hundred of Sachin Tendulkar seems to have been lost top billing. Only time will tell if Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Company can rally from here to salvage some cricketing respect, as the results now appear to be a foregone conclusion!
(Vincent Sunder aspired to play Test cricket, but had to struggle to play ‘gully’ cricket! He managed a league side to title triumph in the KSCA tournaments. He was debarred from umpiring in the gully games after he once appealed vociferously for a caught-behind decision when officiating as an umpire! After two decades in the corporate sector, he became an entrepreneur with the objective of being able to see cricket matches on working days as well. Vincent gets his ‘high’ from cricket books and cricket videos and discussing cricket)