If Australia want to look at the one positive from the unenviable position they currently find themselves in, they can probably conclude that things cannot get any worse for them. As if losing the first two Tests without putting up much of a fight wasn’t enough, the team management made things tougher for themselves, sacking four players for something as trivial as not coming up with suggestions for improving the team’s shambolic performance. Not surprisingly, the mood in the Aussie camp wouldn’t be upbeat, particularly with Shane Watson flowing back home earlier than expected in the wake of the controversy.
Although the situation looks extremely fragile for the Aussies, they pride themselves on fighting back when pushed into a corner, and this is indeed a very big hole they find themselves in. For sure, they would want to give their fans and supporters something to cheer about, if not by winning then by at least competing. So far, it has virtually been a case of Michael Clarke versus the Indian bowlers. All the others have struggled to make any kind of impression. With the ball, James Pattinson has been sprightly, but he won’t available as he is one among the players who have been suspended for the Mohali tie.
Under the circumstances, skipper Clarke will have an even bigger role to play in the team. His success on the tour hasn’t been surprising; for he was always expect to do well considering his class, and his experience in these conditions. But now, he will have to bat higher up the order to try and help his team build a worthy total. He has admitted he will be doing the same, which can only have a positive impact on the side, but how significant the change turns out to be remains to be seen.
At the same time, Clarke’s solo hand won’t be enough for Australia to make a comeback into the series. This is where the problem arises. Hardly any of the other batsmen have made significant contributions in the four innings Australia have played so far. David Warner is a relatively experienced international cricketer now, but his shortcomings given the conditions have been evident. He has overcome criticism in the past over his un-Test like batting. Can he do the same in such alien conditions? It will also be crucial for the likes of Ed Cowan, Phillip Hughes and whoever replaces Watson to make significant contributions. Easier said than done.
With Pattinson out of the picture, there are major issues in the bowling line-up as well. Mitchell Starc and Peter Siddle are the only two pacemen available, and neither has looked threatening so far. Australia can only pray that things change for the good. Also, they will be forced to play with more spinners than their liking considering the current scenario. This means three out of Nathan Lyon, Xavier Doherty, Glenn Maxwell and Steven Smith would definitely be in. Such a premise can only be beneficial for India unless they get overtly complacent.
In short, Australia would have their task cut out at Mohali.
--By A Cricket Analyst