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As Australia (above) look to extend their advantage against India in 2nd Test, we face that basic question: do they have foolproof plans in place? © IANS

Circa mid-2015. Having won the World Cup comprehensively and having decimated West Indies, Michael Clarke’s team headed to England to retain The Ashes. On paper, Australia looked stronger: Clarke’s ‘Dad’s Army’ had all factors tilted in their favour. Australia were on a roll; even after a poor start, they won by 405 runs at Lord’s in the second Test. Four hundred and five runs. But then, the inevitable had to happen. England steamrolled over Australia at Trent Bridge, sealed a comfortable series victory, and Alastair Cook was so deeply overwhelmed that one of the most stoic characters in Test cricket was moved to tears. Mind you, it was Australia who were touted for a win, not England. But the hosts won 3-2, pushing Australia into an abyss so deep that scars can still be found post that mighty fall. Full cricket scorecard: India vs Australia, 2nd Test at Bengaluru

What are these scars? It is obviously not new for top teams to lose while on the road. South Africa lost in India, as did England. However, it is not about just losing at times: it also matters a how you went down. South Africa were too late to respond. England, on their recent tour to India, thought 300 on the scoreboard batting first would be sufficient. They were wrong; England’s benchmark was barely sufficient.

As Australia look to extend their advantage, we face that basic question: do they have foolproof plans in place? Are they not scarred anymore? Or are they motivated to such an extent that no force can pull them down in the trenches they were earlier in? IND vs AUS, 2nd Test stats preview: Visitors eye to create history with another win

These scars are from Trent Bridge and Hobart, from Pallekele, Galle and Colombo, and from Perth as well. These scars are the ghosts of the past, reminding them each day of complete disintegration, which refuse to go away, despite impressive fight-backs and commanding wins. Scores of 60 and 85 and losing the plot from bundling opposition for merely 117 are merely a handful of horror moments that linger in memories. They hound when they bat, bowl, field, train, eat, even when they try to sleep…

But then, Australia have shown they want to put an end to it. It may have taken a little close to 13 years for them to win a Test in India, but a win by 333 runs — the second-biggest in terms of runs in the opposition backyard — is far more impressive than any of their recent wins. Perhaps the most impressive since that win at Lord’s. It was not just a mere win, it was a statement that despite all odds stacked up against them, Australia can pull off favourable results. IND v AUS, 2nd Test at Bengaluru: Kohli and Smith-led likely XIs

Australia realised the benefit they had before arriving in India. They were the last of the four teams due this Indian cricket season. Australia had 9 Tests to watch and study India – the same number of games they had lost in this part of the world – and derive plans and methods accordingly. With ample time and a clear understanding of what was to be done, Australia not only planned their approach, training and game plans with sheer meticulousness, but also achieved something not many have.

None among South Africa, England, New Zealand or Bangladesh have been able to beat India in their backyard in their most recent attempts. Irrespective of the outcome of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2016-17, Australia will walk away having beaten India in India at least once. India vs Australia 2nd Test: Finally, a pitch that hogs all limelight

Australia have achieved something special, but that is that. Both teams will start the second Test at Bengaluru from scratch. Australia have a vital 1-0 lead in their favour, but knowing India’s firepower, this lead is far from safe. The visitors have made no bones about the fact that they fancy a series win, which is not just audacious but still very unlikely. But if at the end, Australia end up conceding the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, will they not fall behind from where they began?

So far, Australia have said the right words and made the right moves. Steven Smith, who has scored two centuries already on this trip, has spoken at lengths about making things fall in the right place. David Warner has spoken about how the Hobart nightmare drives this team. Not only has Mitchell Starc played two terrific innings of significance in Pune, he has also hit the bull’s eye in his assessment that Indian batsmen carry vulnerabilities as well.

The training camp in UAE brought Australia great insight on what lies ahead in India. They created rough patches, dry wickets that were rank turners at the ICC Cricket Academy in Dubai. The batsmen practised endlessly against deliveries that kept low. Warner, on his end, has batted many a times without pads in the nets to make sure his bat got on the ball the right way.

Complacency is a trait that generally remains away from the Australian teams. But a win as big as in Pune tends to add a spring in your steps. Despite that, Australia are talking the right things. They do not want to look too far ahead. They wanted to get through the first Test’s opening day with some advantage before moving on to the next. They have been told repetitively of how quickly equations can change in Test cricket in India. Australia have witnessed it firsthand, having inflicted two collapses on India on consecutive days.

Australia have been in such situations before. They have lost the plot despite having all the advantage on their side. There cannot be a better example than the Pallekele Test, where they lost despite having the hosts wobbling at 117 in the first innings. Australia will also have to ensure they do not cease advantage at any stage in the contests.

Australia can credit themselves as much as they want with that result in Pune, but the job is far from done. Not only there is no room for complacency, there is no scope of retracting to playing poor cricket as well – something that has been witnessed with this team earlier. The real test for Australia lies in being consistent; especially after thrashing the world No. 1 team.

For a team coming off a string of losses in a particular setup, it is never easy to turn the tide, and it is only fitting that a win has come against no less than the top-ranked side. But this is just the beginning. Australia will have to get through the newly-laid track at Bengaluru before heading to two venues without prior record as far as pitches are concerned.