India failed to get off to a good start in the Commonwealth Bank tri-series and the reason for that was once again their batting. This is one area which has been a cause for concern so far on the Australia tour.
After an impressive win at the same ground a few days back, the Indian supporters were expecting Dhoni and his boys to start the tri-series on a positive note. But on Sunday, India were a shadow of the last T20 match in all department. Australia, too, looked fragile at times but picked themselves up nicely to get a commendable win.
India had the home team under control till the interruption. After the break, India lost the momentum, while Australia went on the upswing. They have found a good player in Wade, a genuine all-rounder. He can bat at any position, uses his feet well, can hit big shots in the shorter versions of the game and seems to have a cool head. He looks a decent wicketkeeper and, with maturity, should become an asset for the Aussies. My old KKR mate, David Hussey, is also establishing himself as an important player for his country in the shorter versions. In the T20 match, which Australia won, David played a crucial knock and even on Sunday, he had two important partnerships, with Wade and brother Mike Hussey. This late-order resurgence by the three Aussie batters helped Michael Clarke's team to post a total, which was challenging in the rain-curtailed match.
India's bowling fell apart after the rain break as the wet weather made gripping the white ball difficult. Maybe, that is the reason why the Indian bowlers, who were controlling the line and length well till the interlude, suddenly looked out of sorts, and the Australian batters made merry.
India can look to play Irfan Pathan - a left-hander who swings the ball well - instead of a spinner, as that will add variety to their attack. But Pathan should play only if Zaheer is not playing, and no one knows why Zak is not playing. Why I am prescribing Pathan is because India is playing too many spinners, while in today's game, Vinay Kumar and the Aussie pacers made the most of the pitch.
India's batting failed to get going quickly in the absence of Sehwag. Sachin played a One-day game after 10 months and it was not easy to accelerate from the word go. Gambhir did get a fifty in the last T20 game but hasn't looked convincing as yet. I wonder why Manoj Tewari is not playing. Here is a man who scored a hundred in his last game, against the West Indies, under pressure and, on current form, should play ahead of Suresh Raina who has looked suspect against the short stuff.
The third team in the series, Sri Lanka, is no pushover. So, Dhoni and Co will need to pull up their socks.
(360 Corporate Relations. The writer is a former India captain)