Saturday 24 March 2018 / 07:14 AM

Australia goes down in Mohali

Australia have again been dismantled on the sub-continent, going down by 6 wickets in Mohali to India who have won back the Border-Gavaskar Trophy and taken an unassailable 3-0 series lead. Australia made 4 changes to the XI that was soundly beaten in Hyderabad, 2 of them forced due to the now infamous ‘home-work gate’ debacle, while India went in without veterans Virdender Sehwag and Harbhajan Singh.
Dumped from the 2nd test, spinner Nathan Lyon came in for Glenn Maxwell, who may have joined the likes of Cameron White, Beau Casson, Cullen Bailey, Bryce McGain, Michael Beer and Jason Krezja in the rack of spinners Australia has trialled for less than 4 tests in the rotating post Warne-MacGill era. Steve Smith was gifted a rebirth into the Australian test team after Usman Khawaja and vice-captain Shane Watson both failed to submit their reports to Mickey Arthur, while Mitchell Starc played for James Pattinson, and Brad Haddin for the injured Matthew Wade.

After losing the entire 1st day to rain, Australia’s opening pair of David Warner and Ed Cowan batted well on day 2 to take the total to 139 before Warner fell for 71. Then like clockwork Australia’s middle order slumped with Michael Clarke moving up to 1st drop dismissed for a golden duck before Phil Hughes continued his wretched tour after battling to 2 runs from 39 deliveries. Many pundits queried Steve Smith as a number 5 test batsman, but he silenced a few with a very well made 92 before being dismissed on day 3. Mitchell Starc helped Australia to a competitive total of 408 before falling for 99, agonisingly short of his 1st test ton.

Australia was without their form bowler in James Pattinson for this test, and it was always going to be tough work on a flat track, but few would have envisaged the onslaught that took place. Shikhar Dhawan making his debut may have batted Virender Sehwag into test match retirement with a brilliantly made 185 runs at a Sehwag-esque run rate off 174 balls. He combined with 2nd test century maker Murali Vijay for 289 for the 1st wicket, highlighting India’s ability to put on massive partnerships in this series, with many coming from their younger brigade.

To Australia’s credit, they fought back gallantly on day 4 to take 10 Indian wickets and have the home team bowled out for 499, and 1st innings lead of 91. Much of damage had already been done, with the Aussies looking only to rescue a draw from the game. Lion hearted Peter Siddle again toiled hard, and was rewarded with 5 wickets, while Australia’s spin trio of Lyon, Doherty and Smith claimed just one wicket between them.

Australia had 21 overs to see the day out, and were off to a horrific start with David Warner caught behind off Kumar in the 1st over to a shot he would much rather forget; however Mickey Arthur may not allow him to do so this week in training. Michael Clarke’s troublesome hamstring pushed Phil Hughes back to number 3, and the out of touch and under the pump batsmen looked to attack the Indian spinners who have caused him much publicized grief over the last 3 weeks. In doing so he made his first half century of the tour before receiving a terrible LBW decision early on day 5. Hughes may have kept the selection wolves at bay for 1 test at least, with a hard fought 69, although his long term future in the baggy green will be of much discussion when the Ashes touring party is chosen.

Australia’s middle order again gave little resistance in what was a survival battle, and they were eventually bowled out for 223, leaving India 132 runs to get in just over 1 session to win the test.
This seemed a formality for the Indian batsmen, with only time looking to deny them victory. Some tight Australian bowling lead to some raised heart rates in the home change room, however the Indians won with a few overs to go, leading to another crushing defeat for the Aussie’s.

The series has been a polar opposite to the contest seen on Australian soil a bit over a year ago, where Australia dominated their Indian counterparts to win 4 tests to nil off the back of Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke and Mike Hussey’s wonderful summers. With 2 of these seasoned campaigners having retired, Clarke has been left to toil from the front, and would be expecting more from his fellow batsmen, all of whom are yet to truly announce themselves on the world stage. 

The series to date has been viewed as Australia’s worse since the 2010-11 Ashes thumping, and the worse tour since the post Lillie-Marsh era of the 1980’s. Michael Clarke has said there no ‘dead rubbers’ in test match cricket, and will be desperate for victory from the 4th test in Dehli to take something from the tour leading into the Ashes, although injury may restrict him from playing, meaning a new skipper will be chosen.

The debate as to who this should be will rage on for days, with Shane Watson, Brad Haddin, Matthew Wade and Ed Cowan all being touted, while Steve Smith’s impressive 1st innings may mean Moises Henriques is given water duty. Let the chaos continue.

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Pete Lock

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