When India look back at the Adelaide Test, their first reaction would obviously be that they blew away a golden opportunity to take a rare lead in the series, just like they did back in 2003-04. The batsmen let them down on the final day, but if they look back in totality at their performance, they would realise that their batsmen actually did comparatively well, and it was the bowling that was the problem. The manner in which they struggled to claim wickets does not augur well for the series as far as India are concerned.
In a game where Nathan Lyon alone claimed 12 wickets for Australia, the entire Indian bowling outfit only managed to equal Lyon’s number, and that too after sending out 189 overs during the course of the match. Australia declared in both innings, losing only seven wickets in their first essay and five in the second. Even among them, a number of wickets were handed over to the Indian bowlers as the Aussies looked to bat aggressively and raise the team’s score. Hardly any wicket was claimed by the Indian bowlers, which makes their performance even more pathetic.
Not only did the Indian bowlers fail to pick up wickets, but they were unsuccessful in stemming the steady flow of runs as well. In fact, runs were leaked wholeheartedly by the Indian bowlers. Mohammed Shami went at five runs an over in the first innings and Varun Aaron at nearly six. Although both claimed two wickets each, the amount of runs they gave were unacceptable. Such economy rates are considered okay in one-day cricket these days, with so many restrictions coming in, but not at the Test level, where bowlers have the option to test the batsmen with their skill.
Being the senior bowler, Ishant Sharma was expected to lead the team, but he was found out yet again. While the lanky fast bowler was economical in comparison to the other bowlers, he did not have the wickets to show. In spite of having sent down 41 overs, he finished with only one wicket in the match. The pitch may have been good to bat on against the pacers, but India still needed a better effort from their most experienced bowler. The worrying part was that he rarely looked like picking up a wicket, and the other bowlers looked even less effective, since the lead bowler himself was not up to the mark.
The match marked the debut of Karn Sharma, and although it will be too early to make a statement on him, India would only hope that he learns quickly. Sharma managed four wickets in the game, but it must be said that overall the Aussies tackled him pretty well. It is true that the leg-spinners have an affinity to give away a few runs in their endeavour to deceive batsmen, but Sharma was a bit too expensive by Test standards. He should be retained for the next game though since he showed enough promise. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the rest of the attack, which was toothless.
--By A Cricket Analyst