The dust has now settled in Adelaide. A lot has been written about the first test and a lot has been said about it. Should Karn have played? Should India have tried harder to block the game out once Kohli departed? Is Rohit Sharma a test calibre batsman? What is up with the umpires? Should they all be replaced by DRS robots?
After several forgettable sessions in the field for India, one has to salute the tenacity shown by Kohli and Vijay on a turning track on day 5. On a day when India needed to play out 98 overs, these two batted for about 68 overs with Vijay actually taking majority of the strike. They respected the good balls and punished the bad balls. While the pitch played tricks and Lyon appealed away, they blocked and nudged and hit the occasional big shot. Bit by bit, they took India into a position of strength. Vijay fell heartbreakingly close to what would have been a terrific away hundred (he got 95 at Lords as well, hopefully nineties are a trend he will buck quickly) and India began the collapse we have all come to expect. Once the over-talented/overrated/over-hyped Rohit Sharma (our replacement for VVS Laxman) fell to Lyon, Kohli turned this into a ODI chase – his cover driving against the spin was insane, he was batting on a different planet!
Alas, at the end, memories of the Chennai test in 1999 came back to haunt us. It was all too familiar – a number 4 batsman for India playing an innings of genius to try and win the match. The team (save for Vijay) unable to support him. Saha, the wicket keeper, playing a ridiculous shot (much like Nayan Mongia) when all he had to do was knock the ball around and give Kohli the strike. Indian fans have long memories!
Looking at this game objectively, Australia had dominated 4 out of 5 days. India’s bowlers didn’t look capable of taking 20 wickets at any point of time. Undoubtedly, India got their team selection wrong – Nathon Lyon turned it a mile out of the rough while Ashwin watched from the sidelines. Yet, once Clarke made a bold declaration on the morning of Day 5 (as predicted), India made a match of it. One could criticise the loss of 8 wickets in the final sessions for a paltry 73 runs (another familiar story) but not many would have expected India to even come close to the target. There will always be disappointment on losing the game but we firmly believe this was the right approach to take. If India had played for the draw, we would almost certainly have lost by a much bigger margin!
We think there were a few key takeaways from the first test match:
– Virat Kohli, India’s No. 4.
– Virat Kohli, India’s next captain.
– Virat Kohli, Genius. Fullstop.
It’s on to Brisbane now and we expect India will need to make a few changes to the team.
Stay tuned for our Playing XI just before the start of the next game!