When India resumed play on day two of the opening Test, they had a fair chance of restricting the Australians to a score of under 350, provided they bowled well, which is what they did rather surprisingly on the opening day. The Indian bowlers still had Steven Smith to contend with, but at the other end was Brad Haddin, who was playing for his spot in the team following his recent failures. As such, he would have been under extreme pressure for sure. The Indians should have built on the same, and have made life tougher for the Aussie wicket-keeper, but they failed, not for the first time and, in the process, lost any edge they held over the opponents.
India's bowling woes against the lower order are legendary, but this present bowling outfit is taking the weakness to another level altogether. While the Aussie tail, did not even have to bat at Adelaide, at Brisbane, Mitchell Johnson beat the hell out of the Indian bowlers, and that too at a time when the Indians were supposed to have been on top having claimed early wickets in the day. That passage of play at Brisbane when Johnson smashed the Indians all over the park made the Indians look like club bowlers, and India had lost the plot there itself.
The Indian bowlers, it seem, haven't learnt from their woes at Brisbane. They repeated the same mistakes on day two at Melbourne as well. Although India had allowed Haddin to get away, they still had a chance to restrict the Aussies under 400 had they run through the tail. Instead, they allowed Ryan Harris to run wild as well. He gave exceptional company to skipper Smith, and the two saw to it that Australia crossed 500 with ease, thus all but making sure that the hosts cannot lose from here. On current form, and looking at India's present team, a repeat of Adelaide 2003 is impossible. Thus, all they can do is try and save the Test.
The most exasperating aspect of India's bowling has been the complete lack of control they have shown during the course of the three Tests so far. They has been no plan in place, and if there has been one, it has not been implemented out in the middle. Varun Aaron was the biggest culprit in terms of leaking runs, but even in his absence at Melbourne, things have only been slightly better. In fact, Mohammed Shami has ensured that Aaron's presence is not felt, spraying the ball all over the place. Umesh Yadav has been better, but even he has lacked the consistency, and hasn't had the wickets to show either.
This series was being seen as Ishant Sharma's litmus test, being India's most experienced bowler. But, he has clearly failed in his duties. He did feature in a match-winning performance at Lord's, but was handicapped by injury during that series. Thus, many gave him the benefit of doubt as he struggled to impress in the last couple of Tests. But, here in Australia, he had a great opportunity to prove himself as India's number one bowler. Unfortunately, Ishant has fallen way short of expectations. Ravichandran Ashwin can bowl India to Test wins at home, but no way are they going to triumph in five-day games abroad with the present bowling attack.
--By A Cricket Analyst