In every defeat, the strengths of a team get concealed by the weaknesses that contribute to that loss.
India's loss in the first Test at the MCG will raise a question mark again on the ability of the "golden generation" to recreate the form of its magical past. It is a question that Rahul
Dravid managed to stifle to some extent with his batting exploits on
the England tour. But in Australia, this debate will get ignited with greater intensity if India's batting continues to flounder in the subsequent Tests as well.
In England, it was the prodigious swing and exceptional control of the bowlers which strangulated India. What made their life more miserable was a bowling unit struggling with fitness and a lack of strong back-up. One complimented the other to produce a result that is going to haunt and even impact Indian cricket for years to come.
In Australia, the challenges are very different. The conditions are testing but not too difficult to overcome. It is the bounce, more than the swing, which the batsmen have to effectively counter. Once that is done, batting is an enjoyable experience, both for the stroke-makers, as well as the watchers. Sachin Tendulkar, perhaps one of the best players in the game's history in adapting to the vagaries of a wicket, showed this with scintillating stroke-play in the match.
Someone like Virender Sehwag has a better chance of terrorizing the bowlers in these conditions. The same holds true for VVS Laxman, who has manifold chances of regaling his fans with his wristy elegance, than on wickets where the ball does too much in the air. Dravid already showed his grit, resilience and a stoic temperament, even when nothing was going right for him. Anyone who writes them off on the evidence of just one Test will do so if he is convinced that their older legs will increasingly fail to respond to the mind's diktat with each passing day.
The past record of India's last 10 Tests would suggest that this could well be true. But it is always safe to be wiser after the event, than appear foolish in arriving at judgments on players whose extraordinary skills are not in doubt.
We live in hope of a better tomorrow, a hope provided by the thrilling, heartwarming performance of the three India fast bowlers. One does not remember having ever seen a tearaway fast bowler like Umesh Yadav, bowling in tandem with an equally hostile Ishant Sharma and the masterly Zaheer Khan providing sharpness to an India attack. If fitness issues don't plague the three, the very vulnerable Australia batting is going to be subjected to searing examination, much like the India batting will be.
Australia may have won the opening battle, but going ahead, India should not lose hope. Not yet, though questions remain, especially when Gautam Gambhir appears to be a sitting duck to the leaving ball; Virat Kohli out of his depth and MS Dhoni lackadaisical to the demands of Test cricket.
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