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Friday, December 19, 2014

So many short balls show India is short on cricketing sense.

3rd day's play of the Brisbane Test began with a slight advantage towards India. 

The early departure of Mitchell Marsh being bamboozled by Ishant Sharma also helped the cause of India. The incoming delivery from Ishant though looked ominous but it was actually Mitchell's wrong judgement he paid the price for.

When a fast bowler goes a bit wide of the crease to bowl and keeps the shine of the ball outside, it's commonsense that the ball would come in, more so, as the old Kookaburra ball doesn't reverse much and, early in the morning, any chance of such happenings remains almost zero - even considering miracles.

Brad Haddin came out to bat, and never looked comfortable during his short stint in the middle. His footwork seemed all over the place, as if his nervous system refused to work. Before getting skittled by Varun Aaron's rising delivery at the forward short-leg, offering a chocolate catch to Pujara, Haddin actually kept hopping on the pitch, doing little justice to his reputation as a batsman. In fact, before his dismissal the way he left his all three stumps exposed to nudge the ball to the deep fine-leg fence for a boundary showed his confidence level was wobbly and dwindling. 

However, with his uncharacteristic dismissal, he rather unknowingly laid out a trap for Indians to walk into, so as to squander the advantage to Australia, foolishly, by bowling short and haywire.

The ill-directed and purposeless barrage of 28 short-balls not only helped Mitchell Johnson settle down and score a no time half-century but also did a world of good to Aussies who amassed 130 runs off just 23 overs, losing only 2 wickets in the first session of play.

While Dhoni was clueless, so were Indian pacers, Steven Smith demonstrated why he is considered as one of the most mature cricketers in the world in spite of his age - that's only 25+. 

The moment Johnson pulled twice to the fence with authority, intelligent Smith understood there was nothing to worry. So, he allowed Johnson to take the maximum strike and thereby make Indian bowlers tired and dejected by taking them on with lusty hits all over the ground, as well as playing within the V.

It's ironical that Indian think-tank failed to understand any left-hander naturally plays horizontal shots better, and Johnson was no exception. Whereas, at the start, when feet don't move straightway, it's always wise to pitch the ball up, bowling over the wicket. For that creates two angles for a southpaw thus weaves doubts on his mind while he is forced to come forward and play the ball early. This always increases the chance of getting a new batsman out, especially if he is a lefty. 

If Indians think they can win a Test match by hurting or intimidating batsmen instead of getting them out then they can jolly well keep bowling short, predictably, but to no avail. Because while bowling short Indian bowlers are pitching it almost on their toes, and from that length it's easier for any batsman to pick the ball quite early. 

Even after lunch, when batsmen remain rusty for a short-while, bringing Rohit Sharma in tandem with Ashwin was another mindless move by Dhoni to finish the overs quickly before taking the new ball. 

After a break, it's prudent to let pacers bowl an over or two with the old ball, for that actually warms them up to go for the kill with the new cherry in hand. 

Dhoni's field placing was no strange either. The way he spreads fielders, it is a psychological submission to the fact that tail-enders from an opponent side can hit Indian bowlers anywhere they want, so protections everywhere. 

From 398 for 8, as Australia sailed through to 505, practically, it underlines the ineptness of Indian bowling to wrap things up. Plus, they are also unable to check the run flow to make batsmen impatient to commit mistakes. No logic can justify a fielding side's bowling that concedes a run-rate of 4.60 in a Test match. 

Nevertheless, words are inadequate to laud the knock of Steven Smith under pressure on his debut as a captain. The poise and calmness he showed throughout the innings was of a different class and, if he keeps playing like this, more sedate tons from him are on the cards for sure. 6 Test hundreds in 24 Tests speak volumes of his ability with the bat but with no ado about anything. 

Dhoni & Co. got to realise aggression minus patience and discipline - particularly in bowling - is outrage and anarchy, and neither outrage nor anarchy helps a side win a Test match let alone a Test series. 

Not to forget, everyone does make mistakes, so does a batsman. Therefore, in a Test match, relying on a batsman's weakness is as important as trusting a bowler's strength. So, sticking to the basics is crucial, for without that, variations are nothing but worthless application. 

Finally, one question remains as it is: "What's the role of Indian cricket team's think-tank in Tests overseas?"   

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