Mark Taylor's comment before the series that India's batsman benefited from playing on flat tracks back home had stirred a hornet's nest. A look at India's recent away stats and the inept batting display in the Boxing Day Test, and one would wonder what the fuss was about.
Since a match-winning effort by the batters in the Durban Test at the start of the year, the team has played 16 Test innings away from home and managed to cross 300 just once. Discounting one declaration and chase of a minor target, that still leaves 14 innings where the batsman have failed to set a respectable target for the bowlers.
That gains significance when you recall Virender Sehwag's comments. "I think anything less than 300 is a gettable target," he said, when Australia where 230 runs ahead with just two wickets remaining.
Among the batsman, barring Sachin Tendulkar's hundred in Cape Town and Rahul Dravid's multiple tons this year, none of the batsman have managed to cross the three-figure mark in away Tests this year. Sehwag has averaged under-30 in
Tests this calendar year, including the three half-centuries at home against the West Indies that boost that number slightly.
Gambhir only slightly better
Opening partner Gautam Gambhir has fared slightly better, averaging 31.33 in Tests this year. More concerning was the similar manner of dismissal, poking at a ball pitched on length and deviating away from the left-hander. Gambhir wasn't the only batsman to edge one either to the wicketkeeper or slip cordon, as MS Dhoni asserted after the match.
While crediting the Australia bowlers for their superb line and length, the skipper also felt many batsman were dismissed in a similar way.
"A lot of the batsmen who got out, the delivery was close to the off stump. Some of them came in, some of them just held their line… The batsmen had to guess if it (the ball) was coming in or going out," he said.
Dhoni was also clear that the batting failure was total, and labelled it a flop show.
"The wicket was good, it was not like there was too much wear and tear on the wicket. I think the batting line-up flopped in both the innings," he said after the match.
Another disheartening fact would be the manner of dismissal of the tail-enders, with Zaheer Khan in particular, falling to extravagant strokes when application and defence was the need of the hour.
Tendulkar was the only batsman who could hold his head high after the abject surrender by his teammates.