And so, India have ended up losing yet another Test away from home, their sixth consecutive defeat in Australia, the last two being an addition to the 4-0 thrashing they were given the last time they came here. The Test began on a promising note for India, as their batsmen braved the tough Gabba pitch, and the threatening Aussie bowlers on the opening day. But, as the game progressed, they kept losing the momentum. And, by the time the first session of the fourth day’s play ended, they had pretty much lost the plot completely.
There were numerous reasons why India lost the Test, and one of the key elements was the fact that they couldn’t rein in Mitchell Johnson on the third day. India had gotten off to a bright start in the morning session on Friday, with Mitchell Marsh and Brad Haddin being accounted for early. The bowlers were now in to join Steve Smith, and India still had a lead of well over hundred. But, the manner in which Johnson came in and blew over the Indian attack was unbelievable. He just did not give the Indians bowlers any sort of respect. The way the Indians bowled, they didn’t deserve any.
Although Johnson is a reasonably capable batsman, he is no David Warner and Virender Sehwag. This is why the manner in which India’s bowlers allowed him to blaze away was so shocking. The likes of Ishant Sharma and Ravichandran Ashwin are no longer inexperienced bowlers, yet they had no clue about how to control Johnson. Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron too couldn’t make much of an impression although they are rated highly at home. It was a spineless bowling performance by India, and that one manic session, completely turned the game.
India recovered pretty well with their batting after the Johnson effect on the match. But, the injury to Shikhar Dhawan ahead of the fourth day did not help their cause. MS Dhoni attributing the defeat to the injury however was a bit too far-fetched. The hit to him during practice certainly put things in a fix for the team, but there is no guarantee that things could have been different had Dhawan been fit to bat. He has, after all struggled, throughout the series, and as a professional, sides should be prepared for such eventualities, and not complain.
While the tentativeness of Virat Kohli during his short stay can be understood since he wasn’t ready to go out, the same cannot be said about the rest. They were clearly found out against an inspired bowling attack led by Johnson. Rohit Sharma was unlucky, but he was bound to get a poor decision somewhere as he had wasted earlier opportunities. Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane both were worked over with short, rising balls, which they should have been prepared for. As for MS Dhoni, he played a terrible shot. The captain’s dismissal symbolised India’s shambolic effort.
--By A Cricket Analyst