India vs Australia: Pacers led astray by heads that should be wiser

  • Ian Chappell
  • Updated: Dec 20, 2014 03:15 IST

India squandered a great opportunity to lead by a decent margin at the half-way mark in the second Test, with some misguided tactics and wayward bowling on the third day at the Gabba.

Skipper MS Dhoni appeared to be revitalised after a break from the game and he was poised to pilot India to a position of great strength. Where his captaincy and keeping in England was flat and flat-footed, he'd been decidedly sprightly at the Gabba; his leadership was pro-active and there was a nimbleness about his footwork behind the stumps.

Then came the fateful decision to attack Mitchell Johnson with a barrage of short-pitched deliveries and a torrent of words. Totally ignoring the adage "let sleeping dogs lie", they poked and prodded Johnson who responded with a ferocious counter-attack. In the space of an hour Johnson, with the capable assistance of the prolific Steve Smith, had pushed Australia into a position of supremacy with a flurry of boundaries.

The tactics made little sense and they only served to distract the Indian bowlers and from there they never regained composure. Adding to India's problems, Dhoni not only conceded control in the match but his footwork deserted him behind the stumps and a vital chance to get rid of Mitchell Starc went abegging.

The lack of discipline in the field took the gloss off a first innings batting effort that provided India with a total perfectly designed to produce a series-levelling victory. Now it's up to the batsmen to try and re-establish the advantage and give the Indian bowlers a chance to redeem themselves in the second innings.

While Dhoni wasn't bowling any deliveries in this fateful period, he was guilty of field placements that encouraged short-pitched bowling and he made no attempt to halt the senseless verbal barrage.

Importantly - especially for the future - the lack of discipline showed the Australian team that India were vulnerable when attacked and that control could be wrested very quickly.

The biggest disappointment among the Indian bowlers was the experienced Ishant Sharma who continued his inconsistent and profligate ways. He must be really testing the patience of the selectors with his consistently inconsistent form. The two young fast bowlers Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron were impressive in pace and effort but they were led astray by heads that should've been wiser.

Now India need to bat well by both preserving wickets but still scoring at a good rate and guarding against another of the late order collapses that were so disastrous in the first Test.

The match has provided a torrent of entertaining cricket and is well poised for a result. At this point, Australia just have their noses in front whereas India, with a bit more restraint and discipline, could've by now been perfectly placed to level the series.

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