India vs Australia: Sydney could be India's best chance to win
India have had chances to win a Test in this series. When you score in excess of 400 in all three first innings in Australia, you should have at least one victory to savour, writes former Australia captain Ian Chappell.cricket Updated: Jan 06, 2015 05:56 IST
India have had chances to win a Test in this series. When you score in excess of 400 in all three first innings in Australia, you should have at least one victory to savour.
Despite failing to capitalise on those opportunities India have another chance to win at the SCG. This may be their best opportunity of the series.
With Mitchell Johnson out of the Australia team, the attack will be diminished. It's not just the wickets Johnson takes but the aura of intimidation that surrounds him and creates chances at the other end. Ryan Harris is a fine bowler but a lot of his success has come with the threat of Johnson hanging over the opposition. It'll be interesting to see how he copes with being the spearhead.
Normally, the skipper retiring during the series is a setback for the team but MS Dhoni's non-appearance could actually favour India. His captaincy had become weary and his insistence on not just guiding but instructing the bowlers was a hindrance to the team. Also, Wriddhiman Saha's neat glove work will improve the fielding.
If Virat Kohli can complement the bowlers with his field placing, motivate them when required but generally let them have their head, it will improve India's chances of obtaining 20 wickets at a reasonable cost.
Kohli's biggest challenge as captain will be harnessing his emotional energy and focusing it on his job as leader and not being the chief agitator in the side. The selectors can help him by appointing a strong but calm vice-captain, whose sole job while fielding will be to watch over Kohli and steer him away from confrontation with either the opposition or the umpires. Kohli has taken over the captaincy at the right time; his form is sublime and Dhoni was purely treading water. His batting will be an inspiration and if he can extract the best from the bowlers, this India side could forge ahead quickly.
The selectors also need to find a way to inject a fifth bowler into the side who is someone other than a trundler. Whether this means including a batsman like Suresh Raina who is a handy spinner or playing an extra bowler, Kohli needs to be able to use his faster men in short, sharp bursts.
India have a great opportunity to win at the SCG. They've shown they can make the runs to acquire a victory and now they must display a smarter and more consistent approach to dismiss an opposition batting line-up that is vulnerable.