Team India were not a success on their last two England tours when they lost the WTC final
The batting meltdown leading to a comprehensive innings and more rout was out of character with the fighting spirit that used to be associated with the Australian cricket team. Even taking into consideration this is the T-20 era in which defensive batting technique more suited to the longer format of the game is found to be missing, this was a very poor Australian show.
The home advantage is taken to its extremes in the modern game and India, with its deliberately underprepared designer pitches and quality spinners, is a particularly tough nut to crack. So much so, only the Australians and the Englishmen have won at least one Test match here in the last decade, but invariably lost the series.
It can be pointed out that Team India had crashed to 36 all out in a morning session of a Test in Adelaide in 2020 and yet, to the credit of a team that qualified for the World Test Championship final in the last cycle (but lost to New Zealand), Team India had recovered from the depths of that performance to win their last away series Down Under, as they did the series on their previous visit too.
It is up to the Australians, current runaway leaders in the second WTC cycle with the final to be played at The Oval in London this summer, to prove that they can recover from this debacle and challenge Team India in the remaining three Tests. Of course, it might not help that the visitors allowed themselves to be psychologically defeated long before they played the first ball, thanks to overplayed suspicions about ‘doctoring’ of the Nagpur pitch.
The all-round contribution of Ravindra Jadeja, on a comeback trail after injury that needed surgery, was the decisive match winner as he bowled two great deliveries to get the two best Australian batters in the first innings – Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne – besides chipping in with runs and support to Rohit Sharma, who made his first Test century as captain. Predictably, Ravi Ashwin’s skills with the ball proved too much for the Aussies on a wearing pitch in their second essay.
Team India were not a success on their last two England tours when they lost the WTC final and also allowed England to claw back to draw a split series. They have much to play for when they get to the final this time. Meanwhile, at a time when the cash-rich IPL and the Big Bash are ruling cricket, Test matches are becoming short affairs because of lesser all-weather skills among batters.