Cricket Australia Items/Blogs/brett-mckay/2012/1/16/how-did-india-get-it-so-wrong

Brett McKay

Cracks in The Wall

16 January 2012

Australia has wrapped up the Third Test in Perth, by an innings and 38 runs, to secure the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in emphatic style.

The final result looks more than comfortable, with India losing their last six wickets for 36 runs in fourteen overs. 

But while the afternoon session quickly became a case of ‘blink and you’ll miss it’, the morning session was a battle of patience.

Virat Kohli, despite having a rough time of things early in the series, has perhaps emerged as a player of the future for India. 

Resuming overnight on 21 n.o. Kohli was positive from the outset, and had moved past Rahul Dravid with no real effort at all.

Kohli’s timing throughout the morning was impressive, and as much as the Australian quicks tempted him, he wasn’t drawn into a loose shot. 

The ball was still moving around, too, but two days of heat had also turned the WACA pitch into a nice little batting strip by the third morning.

Dravid’s struggles are ongoing and though he is making starts, the rewards look to be a bit away yet. 

It’s interesting to see the little changes in his technique, as he tries to cope with the moving ball in Australia. 

That famous rock-solid defence that had him known around the cricketing world as “the Wall” is now starting the show signs of cracked bricks and crumbling mortar. 

Daylight is appearing through gaps that seem to be getting bigger.

Most noticeably for me, where Dravid used to play that back foot downward press defensive shot under his nose, during this Test and possibly this series, he seems to be playing this shot a long way in front if his body. 

In this innings, it was as if his feet were in Perth but his bat was in Fremantle.

It’s not surprising that he was once again out bowled, this time to Ryan Harris from fuller ball that ricocheted off his pads. 

Perhaps more worryingly, he appeared to trying to play it across the line, which is going to be all the more dangerous with big gaps emerging in his defence.

And as it turned out to be, you always felt the wicket of Dravid would trigger the collapse. 

It took the Australian quicks longer than I’m sure they hoped to get the breakthrough, and Michael Clarke had to make three bowling changes before Harris took the wicket in the third over after the morning drinks break.

Dravid and Kohli had added another 47 since the resumption on Day 3, yet Dravid had managed only 15 before he fell.

Up the other end, Kohli had more than doubled his partner’s morning output, and as he did in the first innings, was looking very comfortable against a dangerously lurking Australian quartet.

Kohli raised his third Test 50 just before Dravid was dismissed, and would ultimately become the final wicket of the match, nicking Peter Siddle through to Brad Haddin for 75, his highest Test score.

It might be a little premature, but it’s hardly surprising that Indian commentators are calling for his elevation in the order for Adelaide. 

Harsha Bhogle, on ABC Radio, boldly suggested Kohli might even be worth shunting right up to number three for the Fourth and final Test.

Whilst that’s possibly a bit high a bit soon, it wouldn’t be difficult to see Kohli and VVS Laxman swapping spots in the order, should Laxman survive that far. 

“Very Very Special” has been very, very sombre this summer, unfortunately.

In fact, there’s even some suggestion floating around that Laxman may be encouraged/forced into retirement after this Test. 

I’m sure many cricket fans in Australia were expecting a big name retirement after or during this series, but I doubt that many would’ve had Laxman as that name.

Resuming after lunch a precarious but not impossible 44 runs behind Australia, India’s capitulation was as spectacular as it was swift. 

A Ben Hilfenhaus maiden and six off Siddle’s first over were nothing out of the ordinary in the context of this Test.

But suddenly, it all happened.

Hilfenhaus had Vinay Kumar caught overhead by Clarke at first slip, and next ball removed Zaheer Khan with yet another short delivery, Clarke taking another overhead beauty despite Haddin’s gloves flashing in front of him. 

If Kohli is batting three spots too low, then there’s a case that Zaheer is three spots too high, and he can safely assume he won’t get many in his half in Adelaide.

As far as hat-trick balls go, the inswinger Hilfenhaus put past Ishant Sharma did everything but take the edge. 

Incredibly, this was the third time in three Tests Hilfenhaus has been on a hat-trick in what truly has been a ‘boys own’ series for the former Hobart brickie.

Sharma avoided the hat-trick, and the follow-up bouncer, but he couldn’t evade his third ball into the ribs, popping up a simple catch for Ed Cowan under the lid.

Three balls later, Kohli gave up on his slim chances of a maiden Test century, and nicked Siddle, wrapping up the Test and the Series. 

India had lost 4/0 in eight balls to halt proceedings less than halfway through the third scheduled day.

The Indian camp need to address their batting woes and possibly tweak their order ahead of Adelaide, but also find a new skipper and 'keeper after MS Dhoni copped a one-match ban for slow over rates. 

It’s a tough break after India bowled only 76 overs in a game that didn’t last much into the eighth session.

Australia only needs to decide if off-spinner Nathan Lyon comes back in for his home Test, and which quick gets a rest if he does. 

The obvious man would be Siddle, given he’s played all five Tests of the summer so far.

A series whitewash now looks highly likely in Adelaide, and it would be the perfect end to a perfect series performance from the Aussies.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia
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