Quite predictably, the Melbourne Mayhem has triggered its quota of hyperbole and breast-beating while old theories have been dusted and re-circulated, much like the old wine. It was quite funny to read skipper Dhoni's ''analysis'' about the batsmen coming up with a flop show. Such obvious reasoning only glosses over issues like irresponsible batting by some of the established ''professionals''.
Apparently, the Indian team is in perpetual ''waiting mode'' - it is waiting for a ''big score'' from Sehwag that is ''just one innings away'' and of course, Sachin's 100th international century that will come about ''any time''. Then there is waiting for Gambhir's ''overdue'' half-century that will ''transform'' him into a ''different batsman''. Kohli needs to be persisted with if only because he is young and deserves more time to ''find his feet'' at the highest level. We need to be ''patient''.
India should realise they're playing Tests, not ODIs
One can go on and on, but it does not explain the capitulation in Melbourne on the fourth day, although it was some compensation that our bowlers, notably Zaheer, Ishant and Yadav put in some honest work to keep Indians in the hunt until the batsmen threw it all away.
Conversely, the Aussie fast bowlers, Siddle, Hilfenhaus and Pattinson, deserve kudos for their persistence and subtle change of length that helped them to rip out the famed Indian batting line-up like it was some patch of dry grass.
For all that, I thought that the Aussie team was not great deal stronger than the margin of victory might suggest. Their batting was only slightly better than India's as 40 wickets fell over four days on a pitch that certainly did not have any demons as Sachin, Hussey and Ponting demonstrated.
However, there is this wretched tendency in India to pass sweeping judgments and criticism the moment the team loses. While the players deserved the pasting they received after the 4-0 defeat in England, it is still early days to write off the Indians if only because cricket has the habit of making fools out of pundits and vice versa. And so, I will wait until the final Test before getting into judging the team or its players.
Despite the disappointing show at the MCG, I wouldn't opt for a wholesale chopping and changing that at best reflect panic rather than planning. I suspect that Dhoni would prefer an unchanged eleven for the Sydney Test at the start of the New Year and then review the situation depending on the result.
'Poor travellers' tag has come back to haunt India
India's sorry plight in Melbourne had much to do with the failure of Sehwag and Gambhir with their dismissals showing up flawed technique and temperament. If Gambhir was tempted outside the off-stump without getting his feet into position, Sehwag was his usual hit or miss self, an attitude that often borders on insensitivity to the needs of the teams.
It is all fine and convenient to look the other way even as Sehwag continues with his merry ways, but quite another to sit him down and read the riot act. I feel that there is far too much license given to him to bat the way he pleases without putting team's interests above everything else. Today, it is Sehwag and tomorrow, it could be Kohli who might be tempted to swish his bat about. At some point, the team management should say enough is enough. After all, Sehwag is more value to the team when he is batting rather than sitting in the pavilion.
Sachin alone among the Indian batsmen who looked the part and there is reason to believe that the long wait for his 100th international century is nearing its end. Dravid was uncharacteristically tentative and rode his luck in the first innings. Laxman appeared rather flat and heavy, though there is still a bit left in his tank.
Dhoni might yet get away despite lack of technique, but he will have to bat out of his skin to make an impact in the current series. The bounce and movement seem to be just too good for him. The odd 30 or 40 he might still get, but I believe that the Aussies have all but sorted him out.
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It is to be hoped that Kohli will utilize the opportunity he is likely to get at Sydney and prove that he is good enough to be playing in a Test match, for Rohit's shadow cannot be overlooked for long.
One quite liked Yadav's disposition and like Ishant was during his debut series four seasons ago, the Vidarbha fast bowler has plenty of enthusiasm and pace to go with it. Hopefully, he will continue to improve and is nurtured over the years. He has the makings of a truly World-class fast bowler. We had said much the same about Ishant, but he fell off the radar before rising again. Hopefully, Yadav will not go down that path.
Zaheer proved his match witnessed twice over by sending down 51 overs and though he has lost on pace, he is canny enough to outwit the best of batsmen. For sure, he has a major role to play in this series.
Overall, India didn't do too badly at the MCG, but the Aussies played better, though not by much. I feel that India could yet bounce back and why, even win its first series Down Under. That would be a nice New Year's gift.