The preview to the Boxing Day Test match has been dominated by the alleged spat between Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli as far as the Indians are concerned. But, they somehow need to get over it and try to concentrate on the game on hand. India are already 2-0 down in the series, and a loss would mean the end of the road for them. Even a draw won't suffice since it would give Australia the series. We list down some basics which India need to get right, if they want to stay alive in the series.
Good start from Openers: This is rather obvious, but in India's case a good start has become a bit of a luxury for the middle order. There has only been one fifty partnership over the last three years and more. A hundred stand is out of the equation all together for now. Whoever among Shikhar Dhawan or Lokesh Rahul partners Murali Vijay must try to bat out with him for as long as possible. In case that happens, India might be able to put up a better show than the disastrous one in the second innings at Brisbane.
Fifties must be converted in hundreds: If you look at the batting stats of India during the course of the series, they haven't done badly. In fact, twice they have crossed 400 and one 300. It was only at Brisbane on day four that they collapsed. But, 500 is more like the par score in Tests these days. And to achieve that India need batsmen to get big hundreds. Many of them have been getting out in the 40s and 50s. Ajinkya Rahane had got two half-centuries, Cheteshwar Pujara has got one, and Rohit Sharma has chipped in with a 40 and a 30. The middle order needs to do more.
Tail must chip in: This is one area where India are struggling in a big way. With the likes of Ishant Sharma, Varun Aaron and Umesh Yadav/ Mohammed Shami in the tail, Aussie bowlers have found it extremely easy to roll over the lower order. With MS Dhoni also not among the runs, things have only gotten worse for India. Thus, even if India get into a strong position courtesy their top and middle order, they have allowed the opponents to come down owing to the late order collapses. That somehow needs to change.
Bowlers need to take 20 wickets: This is an absolute must. Unless bowlers pick up 20 wickets, they cannot expect to win Tests, at least not in Australia. Out of four innings, India have only managed to bowl out Australia once, and that too after the latter crossed 500. The pacers have struggled for control in the absence of the accurate Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Ishant Sharma has made news for stepping out for veg food than his wickets, and the other bowlers have not fared any better. Two different spinners have been tried in two Tests, and both have disappointed.
India's catching must improve: This is again a basic aspect, but one in which India have been faltering in. The slip catching has been pathetic, like it was in England, with catches going down at will. The outfield fielding also hasn't been very impressive, with chances being put down there as well. Unless India improve in this aspect, they will continue to struggle. Catches win matches after all.
--By A Cricket Analyst