India swept to their biggest ever run margin of victory in Tests as they beat the number one ranked team Australia by 320 runs. This thrashing was also Australia’s biggest loss since 1990 when the were beaten by the West Indies.
Australia had thus far survived the post Warne/Mcgrath/Gilchrist period without being tested too much. With claims, and hopes, that Australia would struggle without the legendary trio they have actually managed to get on with their tasks and continue winning, be it less brutally then before.
This weeks bruising defeat could tell a different story. Australia are defeated in a Test series very rarely. In this decade only defeats to India, in India a few years back, and the famous Ashes defeat to England in England come to mind. Australia almost immediately wiped away the memory of that Ashes defeat by trouncing England 5-0 18 months later. In any case even when Australia do lose a Test match, on that rare occasion when it does happen, it tends to be in a dead rubber after the series has already been won. This happens more than you’d think.
There are still two Tests left in the series, so Australia still have a chance to win or draw the series. But it is the manner of this defeat that will leave questions about the fallibility of the once mighty Australia. India rescued a draw in the first Test after Australia had been the better side. Many would have expected Australia to power on from there and sweep the series, with India folding as they had done before. But in the face of selection questions, over the aging legends of Indian cricket, India responded in brutal style. They batted brilliantly, in both innings, and restricted the Aussies to modest scores in their two innings, even turning down the option of having Pontings men follow on, as they instead went about setting a daunting target that was never going to be reached.
Indeed there was something very Australian in the Indian approach. The way they never allowed the opposition to recover from a bad first innings, and kept digging the hole deeper and deeper, until Australia had to lay down and give in. This was typified in the Indian second innings, when they batted at over 5 an over, scoring quickly and taking the game further and further away from Australia. Dhoni’s decision to capitalise on the brisk start by his star openers by coming in at three was inspired and full of intent.
India have a selection headache of their own going into the third Test. Kumble, who missed this match, will be fit again, but the performance of MIshra, on debut, was one of the keys to the victory. Dropping him would be harsh. But the Test captain should play. It’s a hard selection issue and one that will have to be made bravely, with the series perhaps decided by that one selection.
What is paramount though, for India and world cricket, is for India to strike again and not allow Australia back into the series. A strong display is needed by India in the third Test, one that will ensure that the series is won before the final Test. World cricket will be behind India. The strength of Australian cricket will be tested in the two Tests to follow and they will not lay down and allow India to begin their dethroning without a fight.
We’re in for a battle. One that will be watched and enjoyed by all.
pic from cricinfo.com