The Indian team was criticised after the first Test at Adelaide, and rightly so. A score of 36 all out was embarrassing, to say the least. It was a forgettable performance, which called for introspection and action. By the same token, the team’s performance in the third Test at Sydney deserves to be hailed. It was nothing short of spectacular. How splendidly the players battled. They were combating not only a quality bowling attack, but also a spate of injuries.
Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav had been forced to pull out of the series after sustaining injuries. Rishabh Pant was hit on the hand in the first innings and could not keep wicket. Ravindra Jadeja broke his thumb and was unable to bowl in the second innings, as a result. Although he was padded up, it would have been tough for him to bat on the final day. Later, Hanuma Vihari pulled a hamstring and R. Ashwin also took a nasty hit on the ribs. Yet, they fought on and achieved an honourable draw for their team.
The Indian team’s performances at Melbourne and now Sydney have silenced all those who had predicted a 4-0 rout after the Adelaide Test. The Melbourne Test was a memorable affair. Sydney witnessed classic Test-match batting, with the opposition throwing everything it had at the batsmen, only to be thwarted by a gutsy and gritty display.
Rishabh Pant showed us just how exciting a batsman he is, with an extraordinary innings, which buoyed the Indians and rattled the Australians. There has been some talk about his playing as a specialist batsman and Wriddhiman Saha keeping wicket in the fourth Test at Brisbane, but I beg to differ. I would like to see Rishabh take up the keeping gloves and Mayank Agarwal to open with Rohit Sharma. With Vihari ruled out, Shubman Gill could move down the order to no. 5.
The Australians did come hard at the Indians, but they had to be content with a draw. I get the feeling that the hosts have put themselves in a tight spot and have only themselves to blame. They will do well to talk less and work on the basics a bit more. Easy catches were put down, even as the fielders went on indulging in gamesmanship. Verbal antics to intimidate players from the opposing camp do not usually work at the highest level. Tim Paine has a fair amount of work to do before the next Test.