It is very rare for a team to lose after posting 400 plus in the first innings of a Test. It is even rarer for a side to lose after being a dominant 311 for 4 on the opening day. But, India managed that at the Gabba in Brisbane, and ended up losing the Test by four wickets. The gap in the margin of defeat seems closer thanks to a spirited bowling effort by the Indians defending a small target. However, the fact remains that, not for the first time, India conceded the advantage to the opposition, losing from a strong position.
Looking back at the Test, India would rue the fact that they couldn’t cross 500 in spite of crossing 300 for the loss of only four wickets on the opening day. Murali Vijay batted exceptionally, and like in England, has been India’s best, and most consistent batsman in the series so far. Vijay has rarely looked in trouble, and has left the ball wonderfully well. His calm presence out in the middle has been among the best aspects of India’s showing in Australia. But, it also demonstrates how over-dependent India have become on him.
In the wake of how he has held up India’s innings throughout the series so far, his dismissal late on the third day was a big blow for the Indians. Still, the manner in which they batted out the rest of the last session on that day was impressive. Shikhar Dhawan and Cheteshwar Pujara showed good application as India went into the fourth day high on hopes. They could have done so better on what turned out to be the final day of the Test. The kind of application needed to survive on the pitch was just not shown by the Indian batsmen.
MS Dhoni attributed India’s lacklustre batting show on Saturday to the fact that India were unsettled by Shikhar Dhawan’s injury out in the middle. The comfort with which the left-handed opener batted later in the innings however raises the pertinent question, why didn’t he come out to bat straightaway? He hardly looked in any kind of trouble out in the middle, which means the injury wasn’t that bad. Dhawan did play fantastically well later in the innings, but by that time the match was well and truly out of India’s grasp, and all Dhawan managed was to rescue his floundering Test career.
Even though the Mitchell Johnson knock had a standout effect on the match, and showed India’s bowling in very poor light, India still had a decent chance to compete had the batsmen delivered on the fourth day. But, Cheteshwar Pujara disappointed again, failing to convert one more start, and Ajinkya Rahane too registered his second failure in the series, both coming in the second innings of the Test. Both as a batting outfit and a bowling combination, India failed to deliver consistently. In a Test, teams must show consistency over a prolonged period, and this is where India have been found wanting.
--By A Cricket Analyst