These were all good signs from a bating line up which has proven rusty and slow to make the change from lower English wickets to even lower and slower home decks and then to the waist high and above bounce of Australian tracts. Bouncers are not the issue. Its the good length balls that keep finding unexpected bat shoulders not ready for the work they have been asked to do and edging to a hungry slip cordon. The fact Melbourne and Sydney seamed more than usual and this experienced batting line up has finally faced Australian pace men who can swing the ball, has also created a climate of downfall.
Comparisons to the Indian victory in Perth in 2008 are erroneous. The Indian pace attack was younger and fitter. Harbhajan was suspended, following the ugly fracas in Sydney but rather than weaken the Indians, it stirred them into action. At the same time, the leading Australian players, Ricky Ponting and Andrew Symonds chief among them, had been been greatly disturbed by the match and by the aftermath in the press. Peter Roebuck had called vehemently for Ponting's dismissal from the captaincy and media debate raged about what had been said and by whom. Matt Hayden, who scored three hundreds in the series, was out injured bringing Chris Rodgers in for his only Test to open with an equally inexperienced Phil Jacques. Australia bought back Shaun Tait after three years for what would be his last Test. The Australians were cocky and ripe for the picking and subsequently lost.
Not so in 2012.
|Marsh - 3 runs in 4 innings|
The biggest stumbling block is the loss of Pattinson. Ben Hilfenhaus and Peter Siddle have more wickets at better averages against the India's so far, but it is Pattinson who has provided the grunt. He is the man who gives the Indians sweaty underpants and despite the return of Ryan Harris, Australia's attack has been dealt a blow and India's batting will gain confidence.
There are other problems.
Brad Haddin's big mouthed outburst belongs to another era of Australian cricket and so does he. Had it not been for sheer bad luck and a broken thumb, he would already be gone but the selectors will bide their time and wait for the possibility of corrective surgery and Tim Paine's availability. Haddin's remarks concerning the Indians can't do anything than stir them into action and it won't be the first time his feeble attempts at mental disintegration have backfired. His claims that India would turn on themselves were staggering, not the least because there is no evidence of disharmony and no record of Indian teams self-imploding. Pakistan would be a walk up start for this criticism but not India. Haddin needs to know his papa dams from his pulao.
Australian selectors have always flirted with the four pronged pace attack at Perth. In six of the 38 Tests played at the WACA, they have gambled on four quicks, winning only two. It worked last year against England, giving Australia its only win of the season. Harris and Mitchel Johnson (remember him?) took 9 wickets each. For some reason Johnson got MOTM, yet Hussey made 61 and 116. When India won in 2008, the ploy failed miserably, when Brett Lee, Johnson, Stuart Clark and Tait needed Michael Clarke and Symonds to bowl 39 of the 186 overs.
|Ryan Harris to return|
For India, Virendar Sehwag is past due and the true bounce at the WACA helps him because it takes little interpretation. He must make a score here if India are to claw back a place in the series. Rahul Dravid will enjoy the higher, truer bounce which will help him avoid having his sticks rattled. Bowled one in five times in 282 Test innings, he has had his castle ransacked six times in the last eight. As Dylan and the Wilbury's sang, "and the walls came down ... never saw them when they were standing, never saw them when they fell." The rest will swing on Virat Kohli, who the Indian leadership have a lot of confidence in. Rohit Sharma continues to be the unlucky man.
You have to go with your strengths and Ohja looks more likely to take wickets than Yudav.
|MS Dhoni got karted |
The match could be closer than first thought might indicate but Australia look handsome and deserve to be favourites to go 3-0 up.