The careworn look of visiting captains involved in Test series debacles in India is nothing new.
The inability to tackle spin on turning pitches and finding one’s own bowling line-up handicapped on dry pitches of low bounce can sap the leader of the pack.
Kim Hughes (1979), Steve Waugh (2001) and Ricky Ponting (2008 and 2010) have all experienced that. But those have not even come close to the hammering the Aussies have taken in this series.
As skipper Michael Clarke addressed a press conference on Thursday, once again struggling to find answers for his players’ failures, the pain was real.
His back pain caused by a bulging disc looks set to keep him out of the Kotla Test.
Clarke, who has soldiered on with the problem since he was 17, insisted that he would do everything to play. But he could not take part in the training that started soon after and it is likely he will be advised not to risk his health after going 0-3 down in the series.
But Clarke feels a win will at least prove to his team members that if they are at their best, they can handle the opposition in their den.
Shane Watson cut a pleasing figure at the nets. Smiling and joking, the vice-captain trained hard for the second day in a row.
One of the four players suspended from the Mohali Test for indiscipline, he will lead the team if Clarke sits out of a Test for the first time.
Clarke has grappled with selection, indiscipline and other injuries — paceman Mitchell Starc has flown home for ankle surgery.
Paceman Mitchell Johnson is the senior-most bowler in the group with 205 Test wickets, but has not played a single game.
In the situation Australia find themselves in, shuffling the pack can be a way to galvanise the side.
But Clarke didn’t seem, which means Johnson, who played on the 2008 and 2010 tours, and young batsman Usman Khawaja, may continue to sit out.
Clarke refused to contemplate another defeat that would make it their first 0-4 whitewash since the South Africa tour of 1969-70. The last time they lost four Tests in a series was in the 1978-79 Ashes.
© Copyright © 2013 HT Media Limited. All Rights Reserved.