December 29, 2011

India fail to overcome traditional weaknesses to lose yet another Boxing Day Test

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By Syed Khalid Mahmood

India succeeded in fielding their full strength playing eleven in the first Test against Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground but could not overcome the traditional weaknesses to lose yet another Boxing Day Test.

With the pace trio of Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav firing on all cylinders and all their world-class batsmen very much there, India had the best chance to topple the Aussies in their own den. Despite having the game in control for the better part of four days, India lost it by 122 runs.

This was a rare occasion when India didn’t have a pedestrian seam bowler to support the new-ball operators. In fact it was after very long time when they were in possession of a potent pace attack that possessed the capacity to rattle the opponents.

Zaheer, Sharma and Yadav bowled their heart out on the responsive track and they had the Australian batsmen guessing and fending. It was an unusual sight watching the Indian speedsters clocking 150 kilometers per hour consistently.

The Australian batsmen were themselves short of confidence and they were tested by the cracking deliveries that were being hurled at them. The Indian fast bowlers broke the back of Australian batting in both innings. But as we have seen more often than not, the tail-enders spoiled their party.

Starting from the first-ever Test that Indian had played at Lord’s in 1932 they have had a history of letting the opposition off the hook after holding them hostage for a while. The history now repeated itself at Melbourne in 2011.

In both the innings the Australian tail-enders put together crucial runs that proved decisive in the low-scoring game.

India also have had the habit of collapsing against the run of play. They were in complete command of the situation on the second evening when Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar had brought up 200 of the innings for the loss of only two wickets. Who would have believed them getting bowled out for well below 300 from such strong position and confronting inexperienced bowlers.

It was yet another Test match which India dominated but failed to win it. They had themselves to blame for not having exercised total control when they were in a position to do so.

"We thought with a 230-odd runs lead, if we could get them for 240 or 250, that's a very gettable score. But I felt 290-odd was also a score we should have achieved. The wicket was good. It was not like there was too much wear and tear on the wicket. I think the batting line-up flopped in both the innings,” skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni reckoned.

"First innings, we got off to a decent start. We had a kind of a partnership going, after that we needed to capitalize on it. We were not really able to do that, because of which we were close to 50 runs short. In the second innings, wickets kept falling at regular intervals, which meant getting close to 300-odd runs was more and more difficult. Just that we need to get consistent with our batting,” he believed.

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