Australia win by 122 runs

It wasn’t nearly as close as I expected. Yesterday I thought that 250 was the magic number, and that it would be a very close finish. I did back Australia to win, but I was thinking by about 15 runs. I had forgot, however, about India’s almost complete abandonment not just of technique but of common sense. I’m pretty hard on Brad Haddin for playing stupid shots, but this isn’t the first occasion where India have looked like a team of Haddins. (Except Dravid, I should specify.) Australia’s young quicks did well to move the ball a bit and put it in areas where it could not easily be slogged, but that should not be enough to cause some of the most successful batsmen in history to completely lose their heads as the Indians did.

India actually never seemed to show up at the MCG. Despite starting the day with a clear chance to win (a lot of people considered them favourites) they didn’t seem interested as they tried to finish off Australia. Hussey was struck in front very early on in the innings and whilst India appealed it was very half hearted, despite the fact that the replay showed that it was plumb! The fact that it wasn’t given was not India’s fault, but their reaction showed how uninspired they were. Their fielding continued to be poor as well. Zaheer Khan failed to get into position to catch a top edge skier that was in the air for so long one thought it might have been sucked into a jet engine. Australia took well judged singles and quick twos almost at will and added 61 to the overnight score. India were clear second favourites by this time and it was almost entirely their own doing.

As they came out to start the chase I got to see the usual buzz on Twitter about how Sehwag could take the game away from Australia and get half the runs by lunch or whatever hyperbole is favoured amongst Indians now. The same thing happened in England over the summer and he made a king pair, but no one seems to have noticed. He’s probably the most overrated player in international cricket at the moment, averaging 37 outside the subcontinent. With his feet rooted to the spot he wafted at the first ball he faced and was lucky to miss it. The camera then cut to a sign in the crowd saying that Sehwag didn’t care about footwork, complete with a drawing of him batting sat in an armchair. It was being held by an Indian supporter and appeared to be meant as a compliment, which goes a long way to explaining the form in which India’s batsmen find themselves. Needless to say it wasn’t long before Sehwag made contact with that shot and hit it straight down the throat of Hussey in the gully. I assume as he walked off he thanked Haddin for all the batting tips he’d apparently received. I understand the notion of that being how he plays, and he probably would not score any more runs if he changed his game, but chasing a tricky 292 to win it was probably the worst thing he could do. If India are going to work their way back to the Test summit, or even Test respectability, they are going to have to find a way to rein him in, or simply drop him for overseas tours.

Sehwag’s opening partner, Gambhir, was almost as bad. He went the same way he did in the first innings, hanging his bat outside off. His dismissal also said a a lot about the Indian mentality. Hawk-Eye showed that the ball had moved after pitching, but not much, almost exactly half the width of the bat. Gambhir would have middled it, but did not adjust at all to the seam movement. I understand that it is harder to play the moving ball (that’s the point) but for a Test batsman to be so careless ought to be unacceptable. The vast majority of the Indian batsmen played in a similar style, however. Only Dravid kept his dignity intact; he merely misjudged the line of a Pattinson delivery and was bowled through the gate. Tendulkar edged a ball half a metre outside off to gully; Laxman was caught in the same way that he was twice at Lord’s, trying that hybrid pull/flick; Kohli went across his stumps and was plumb LBW (and then stood there a bit before going off muttering and shaking his head, for no reason that anyone can fathom) and Dhoni inside edged the ball onto his stumps playing a horrific mow across the line, though it was over by then anyway.

India have two young batsmen who are good in ODIs, but do not appear to be Test quality, Raina and Kohli. The culture of the Indian team is such that those two aren’t going to have a chance to improve. The ten batsmen bar Dravid went out and played like it was a fifty over match. They seemed incapable of just leaving the ball when it was not in a position to hit. After the 4-0 whitewash last during the summer I read and heard a slew of excuses for the Indian team’s performance. The point about injuries was a reasonable one, but this match shows how specious the rest of them were. India refused to learn the lessons of that series and this is the result. They have only themselves to blame.

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