Downcast Aussies have nowhere to escape

Last Updated: Tue, Mar 19, 2013 09:27 hrs

They scored 380 in the first innings and lost by eight wickets before lunch on the final day at Chennai. They declared their first innings closed and were routed by an innings by lunch on the fourth day at Hyderabad. They got 408 in a match effectively reduced to four days because of a first day wash out and still went down by six wickets at Mohali. 

There was just no escape route for Michael Clarke and his men. They were ambushed in any which one could think of.
This is the mark of a team that has been outplayed, out thought and out manuoevered throughout the series. The batting has presented problems, the bowling has presented bigger problems and there have been shocking lapses in team selection and in matters of strategy and tactics. 

It is already been regarded as the weakest Australian team to tour India irrespective of what happens in the final Test at New Delhi. Whether they can save pride by at least drawing that game - let us forget about them winning - is open to debate.
Truth to tell though the visitors did give a better performance at Mohali as compared to the shoddy showing at Chennai and Hyderabad. However that was always on the cards given the conditions and the pitch that was anything but a spinner's paradise. To be candid they should not have lost after getting 408 in the first innings. 

But a breath taking onslaught by Shikhar Dhawan put them on the defensive. Not only did his pyrotechnics help the Indians make up for the lost time due to the first day washout it also meant that the Aussies would be up against it yet again in the second innings. At both Chennai and Hyderabad they had collapsed the second time around but given the surface at Mohali the odds were that they would save the match. 

But a combination of circumstances - Bhuvneshwar Kumar's dream spell on the fourth evening and a couple of dodgy umpiring decisions - meant that Australia just about failed to save the match even if overall it constituted an improved performance.   
In a way of course they were handicapped by the disciplinary measures taken against the 'Gang of Four' for it meant that not only were the team management not in a position to select the best team it would also be ill balanced. On the hard, true track at Mohali the Aussies would have been well served by going in with three seam bowlers and one spinner. 

But not being able to pick James Pattinson and Mitchell Johnson meant that they had to soldier along with Peter Siddle and Mitchell Starc and three spin bowlers who were always going to be a liability.
The worst fears came true for some of the stuff dished out by Nathan Lyon and in particular Xavier Doherty and Steve Smith was downright tripe. It was pathetic to see Australia, the land of Clarrie Grimmett and Bill O'Reilly, Richie Benaud and Shane Warne reduced to having to depend on the likes of Doherty and Smith with averages of 78 and 70 in their brief careers. When Warne had met with little success in India what chances did Smith and Doherty have?
The Indians now have a realistic chance of a clean sweep - something that they have never achieved before in a series of more than three Tests. One revenge opportunity was missed out as England far from being beaten turned the tables to win the series in India not too long ago. But revenge for the humiliation that India suffered 'Down Under' some 15 months ago is well on the cards. 

This Australian team is down and out for the count and it only remains for the Indians to deliver the knock-out punch at New Delhi. To compound the misery for the tourists Michael Clarke is a doubtful starter for the final Test and that can only make matters more difficult for the Aussies even if Pattinson, Johnson and Watson will be available for selection. 

The Indians, on a roll, can even take the possible unavailability of Shikar Dhawan, Indian cricket's newest batting star, in their stride. Such is the disparity between the two sides.
For us in India who have followed Australian cricketing exploits in this country ever since the first team visited this country in 1956 it has been a sore disappointment. One has always associated Australian cricket with fighting qualities, certain sublime skills and sparkling, positive cricket whether batting, bowling and fielding. 

Except for Kim Hughes' team in 1979 which was depleted thanks to defections to Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket every Australian cricket team in India, even if they have lost has produced cricket in keeping with the lofty traditions. Clarke's side is clearly the worst-ever Aussie team to visit India and this is borne out not just by results and the series stats but the manner in which they have plumbed the depths in every department of the game. 

It only remains to be seen whether they can salvage some pride at New Delhi for a dignified departure but at the moment even that looks unlikely. The Indians on the other hand having won three straight Tests in a series on the trot for only the third time - the other occasions being against England in 1992-93 and against Sri Lanka the following season - have the opportunity to win four matches in a contest for the first time and it will take a brave gambler to bet against that happening.   

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