By the time the Perth Test begins at WACA, India will be desperate to register a win, a successive one at Perth. Only this will keep their chances to level the series alive. Critics believe the writing of 3-0 lead for Australia is on the wall, but only India can tell what is in the minds of their wall and his other senior batting colleagues.
Ending the Sydney Test with yet another overseas loss, the sixth on the trot, the famed batting line-up of the team must surely be at a loss to know what is not right with their batting. Presently, it looks like everything is wrong with them. We are into the third Test of the series and there is no century yet from any of the Indian batsmen.
Everytime Sachin had neared his 100 recently, it has appeared farther. We have been seeing flashes of brilliance from the Indian batsmen every now and then, but each time it has fizzled out. 2011 has seen only two of the batsmen in touch, that too on and off. If Dravid’s England tour was a dream run for him personally, Sachin has remained the same master throughout the year, except that the 100th ton has been eluding him everytime.
Sadly, it has been a yearlong story of a slip between the cup and the lip. On the other hand, we have VVS who must be cursing himself for having let go the opportunity to turn things around in the Sydney Test, his favourite hunting ground. After compiling a majestic 66, he faltered to continue with his consistent poor run of recent times.
With calls for his axing getting louder by the day, he must be itching to go out there and perform and in all probabilities, we will come to see a Laxman special VVS (very very soon). The continuous failures of Kohli and Dhoni have also made the team short of batting fire power, look weak and have turned out the team’s weak link. Though Perth is considered to be one of the most difficult pitches to bat on, India can take solace from the fact that their first match here in 1977 had produced totals of 402 and 394, a feat not achieved by most of the other top class teams. In the recent times, each time the batting appeared proper, it had come a cropper! Absence of long partnerships, no century from either of the openers in 2011 and the big guns failing collectively put India on the backfoot. Attack would be the best option for India in the Perth Test. They cannot afford to play a waiting game. Defensive mindset is certainly not going to tame the mighty Aussie attack. Not only Sachin, but the team should, for a moment, put aside Sachin’s much awaited landmark from their minds.
Instead of revolving around the master’s batting, they should leave him alone and focus on their respective batting . Win will follow and so will Sachin’s landmark 100. Being the only batsman from the current crop to join Sunny Gavaskar and Mohinder Amarnath to score a century here, Sachin is most likely to get his second, the elusive 100 here, and fly the Indian colours high.
The history of Perth says only batsmen who have attacked and dominated here have succeeded. A minimum two hour opening partnership is bound to do the trick for the Indian batting. The Indian batsmen need to stand and deliver. As Mohinder once quipped, there is no running away from a pacy wicket. Not only have the batsmen created a losing atmosphere for the team, they have also given room to critics and detractors to write not only the team’s, but their obituary as well. As far as the Indian pace trio is concerned, they would be as lethal as the Aussie bowlers on the WACA wicket.
They only need to ensure they seize the moments unlike during the Melbourne Test. By now they should be well aware that the Aussies too are prone to batting collapses, like a pack of cards. Rarely have the Indian batsmen looked out of sorts like they are doing now. They are neither playing in unison nor jelling together. Oflate, they have put themselves in difficult positions and have been unable to wriggle out of such whirlpools.
Whatever the team had done in the past decade, they have undone it and have taken a couple or a huge step backward. When form is poor, disarray in the team is bound to creep in. If India’s fortunes are to be revived, it is only in the hands of it’s batsmen. They have seen much sterner tests in many Tests in the past. All they need is to take a fresh guard and start believing in themselves and not let the controversies outside the field affect them. With critics barking at them, this is the best time for the famed line-up to prove themselves yet again and make the world stand up and salute them. Will they? Well, their current form does not say so, but their track record will repeatedly say yes. After all this team can always boast of Sehwag the marauder, Sachin and Dravid, the two highest run-getters in Test cricket and VVS Laxman, the Aussies’ nemesis.
When the team can lose six on the trot with these men around, it will not be difficult either to win the remaining two Tests and return home with their heads held high. All they need to do is to play as a well-knit unit, co-ordinate and do what they have been doing for two decades, dominate. Indian batting has seen much worse defeats in the past but have come out successful after most of those defeats. Needless to say, the senior trio must have made their own plans and are sure to have an ace up their sleeve, especially after all the humiliation they had to face in the recent times. Another loss after will not matter much, but a win after 6 defeats will boost the team morale. A clear and sure display is a must to conquer WACA yet again, a united effort with surgical precision. They need to get back their footwork, to put the Aussies on the backfoot! The mantra to turn around the team’s fortunes is to bat in fusion, not confusion!
Posted on: 12-01-2012
Venkat Balantrapu is currently a NRI and works in senior insurance management in Mauritius. He has played cricket passionately for over two decades at various levels in as well as outside India and continues to write on the sport with the same passion.