Indian Cricket team player celebrating the wicket of Australian player M Clarke in the 3rd Test match, at PCA Stadium, Mohali. HT Photo/Gurpreet Singh
At the height of Australian cricket’s glory days in the early 2000s, there were suggestions that Test cricket could be reduced to four-day affair to make them more exciting.
Steve Waugh’s men were anyway thrashing most opposition with more than a day to spare.
Any such suggestion would be seen as a cruel joke by Michael Clarke’s current team, after they were dealt their third crushing defeat in a row by India.
The first Test in Chennai barely went into the final fifth day while India wrapped it up in four days in Hyderabad.
Mohali, after the first day’s play was washed out, presented the best opportunity for the beleaguered visitors to salvage a draw, but India clinched victory in the final minutes on the final day — effectively Day Four — to seal the series.
It is the toughest phase of his captaincy for Clarke, who started his career in India in a blaze of glory by scoring a brilliant match-winning century on debut in 2004 before the team went on to clinch their first series win in India for 35 years.
He was left doubly aching on Monday after the manner of defeat gave few signs there could be a fight-back on another turner in Delhi.
While the team has been battered, the skipper is also in much physical pain as his back problem threatens to keep him out of the final match.
“It is the same problem I have had for a certain number of years. My fingers are crossed, touchwood I haven’t missed a single Test because of this,” he said.
Ironically, if he does miss out, it will be Shane Watson, Clarke’s deputy on tour and one of the four suspended for the Mohali Test for indiscipline, who will lead the side.
This series has been about a clash between two teams in transition. While India no doubt have held the upper hand due to the home conditions, Australia are facing the question India are familiar with — their poor showing away from home.
They have suffered the sixth Test defeat in a row in India, having lost the 2008 and 2010 series as well.
“I think it’s probably a very fair indication of where both teams are at,” Clarke said, talking about the 3-0 margin.
“I don’t want to talk for India. But for the Australian team it’s probably a fair indication. We’re playing some really good, consistent cricket at home back in Australia, in conditions we’re very accustomed to, but we’re not performing as well as we’d like when we go overseas in conditions we’re not used to.”