Michael Clarke’s men may have lost the first Test at Chennai comprehensively, but they clearly aren’t down and out, not as yet. In fact, the loss only seemed to have inspired them to do much better at Hyderabad in a few days’ time, as the batsmen had a net session around the same pitch on which they crumbled, not a very long time after going down in the Test. Australia know their weakness is in the batting department, and if they can get their act right with the bat in the next couple of games, they can definitely put up a much-better fight.
What was most laudable was Australia’s response to the Chennai defeat. Unlike, Shane Warne, Clarke did not criticise the spiteful pitch, but instead admitted that his team fell short on the technique and temperament aspects. He also pointed out to the fact that since the game went into day five it was a good Test wicket that offered plenty of challenges to their batsmen. This attitude was in stark contrast to what the Indians displayed when they were being undone on bouncing and seaming pitches Down Under. Dhoni’s men retaliated by saying that they would see how Australia bat on spinning pitches in India.
Most graceful in defeat was Moises Henriques, who played superlative knocks in both innings of his debut Test to make a serious impression in his first outing. Even as Australia were on the verge of defeat after day four, Henriques came out and proclaimed that he was enjoying the challenge of facing the tough spinning conditions in India. The resolute matter in which he batted throughout the Test certainly proved that he was having fun taking up the tough challenge. The great part of playing cricket around the world is testing yourself around in varied conditions and trying to come up trumps. Australia may have failed at Chennai, but Henriques stood tall, proving it isn’t impossible to survive even on a viciously turning track provided you have the right degree of application.
Had a few other Aussie batsmen shown the resolve displayed by Henriques in his first Test, Australia could have run India a lot closer. Most of their batsmen did get starts in both innings, but failed to carry on. Ed Cowan made 29 and 32, David Warner contributed 59 and 23 while Shane Watson registered 28 and 17. Had a couple of these batsmen carried on to bigger scores, Australia could have put up a much-improved show. Skipper Clarke himself was brilliant with his first-innings hundred, but as he himself admitted at the post-match conference, India never allowed their batsmen to settle even as some of the batters got unplayable deliveries.
The loss at Chennai notwithstanding, Australia would be keen to turn the tables at Hyderabad. They can take inspiration from England’s fight back, who also recovered after losing the first Test at Ahmedabad. Agreed, Nathan Lyon is not in the same league as Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann, but Australia have the capability of making up for their shortcomings with their unwavering resilience. This was evident when they stepped on to the ground at Chennai to work on their game post the loss. India may go to Hyderabad as favourites, but they must underestimate Australia at their own peril.
--By A Cricket Analyst