Australia had dominated four of the five days of the opening Test at Adelaide without doubt, but the manner in which India made a comeback on the final day courtesy Virat Kohli and Murali Vijay was sensational in itself. In fact, they were so brilliant during their partnership that India went into the last session having all but saved the game, what with eight wickets in hand, and having a fair chance of giving the target a dash in case they kept wickets in hand going into the last hour. This is why their collapse was so shocking.
Though the pitch was playing tricks, it wasn’t an unplayable surface as Vijay and Kohli showed during their stay out in the middle. On the final day pitch, a team is expected to fight it out against the turning ball, which shouldn’t have been difficult for India, considering they are born and brought up on surfaces where the ball does much more. This was after all only an Australian pitch. Without doubt the Aussies bowled well, and Nathan Lyon particularly was spectacular on the final day. But, India will know deep down that losing eight wickets for 73 runs in unacceptable.
The dismissal of Vijay, on an unfortunate score of 99, was what proved crucial in the context of the game. Until the duo was at the crease, India looked in command. However, once Vijay fell to a nervous stroke, Australia got an opening, which they exploited unbelievably well. Although Vijay batted wonderfully well, it was surprising that he got so nervous on 99. The India opener has scored a few hundreds for India now, but his dismissal for 97 in South Africa and the manner in which he got out here demonstrate that he needs to work on his concentration.
Once Australia got an opening, they ensured they broke through. Although it was very difficult for the new batsmen coming in, the middle and lower order still should have shown better spine to survive. Rohit Sharma was going to be tested for sure, and he proved once more what when it comes to challenging conditions, he has plenty of work to do. In spite of being known as a good player of slow bowling, he looked completely at sea against Lyon. Wrridhiman Saha and the tail also didn’t survive, and the abject surrender brought back memories of disastrous England tour.
Looking back at the Test, India may not have dominated the match in any way, but they had put themselves in a wonderful position on the last day. All India needed was better support for Kohli and Vijay. Of course, they were unlucky with the dismissals of Ajinkya Rahane and Shikhar Dhawan, but the reverse was also true. Vijay should have been out lbw twice, and Kohli once. However, the rub of their green went their away. At the end of the day, they were just not enough to deal with a final-day crumbling pitch.
--By A Cricket Analyst