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Thursday, Nov 21, 2019

India vs Australia: This is the finest Indian pace attack to visit Australia - Opinion

India vs Australia: India’s quick bowlers have ensured Australia’s weak batting remains mired in mediocrity.

cricket Updated: Jan 01, 2019 09:29 IST
Ian Chappell
Ian Chappell
New Delhi
India's Mohammed Shami, left, speaks with Jasprit Bumrah during a Test match.
India's Mohammed Shami, left, speaks with Jasprit Bumrah during a Test match.(AP)

Bowlers win Test matches and that is why India currently lead Australia 2-1; their leather flingers have out-performed the hosts in two out of three contests.

Headed by the indefatigable Jasprit Bumrah, the Indian pace attack has been supreme in both the Adelaide and MCG Tests. In the process they have achieved the incredible feat of surpassing in nine Tests, the 130 wickets the illustrious West Indies trio of Joel Garner, Michael Holding and Malcolm Marshall took in 10 matches in the calendar year of 1984.

That is a supreme feat and a tribute to the consistency and potency of India’s finest pace attack to visit Australia. From the time that Cheteshwar Pujara booked in at the MCG for bed and breakfast, India were always in charge of the contest but it took a fine bowling performance to complete the task of achieving victory.

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Virat Kohli must also take some credit for reading the pitch perfectly; at the toss he said he felt it would become harder to bat as the game wore on and this proved to be correct. However, it was the standard of bowling that increased that degree of difficulty and deservedly it was Bumrah, with a nine-wicket haul, who claimed the man of the match award.

Lame Excuse

After the match Tim Paine expressed some disappointment at some of the pitches prepared for the Test series but that ignores the reality of the game. The prepared pitch is what both teams are playing on and the idea is to find a way to win on that surface.

There’s no doubt that this Indian team has been more adaptable to Australian conditions than any of its predecessors. That is a big reason why they are now in with a great chance to win a Test series in Australia for the first time.

The bowlers have preyed on a sub-standard Australian batting line-up to the extent that none of their players has scored a century and bowler Pat Cummins was their highest scorer in the MCG Test. There’s no doubt that this is a weak Australian line-up but the Indian bowlers have ensured that they stay mired in mediocrity by being relentless in their attack.

Luck Factor

India may have also received a lucky break in the form of Ravichandran Ashwin’s injury as this low bouncing pitch perfectly suited Ravindra Jadeja’s skidding left-arm spinners. Jadeja was the ideal foil for the marauding fast bowlers and his ability to bowl long spells with good control meant Kohli could use the quicks in short sharp spells.

Kohli is a very intense and emotional captain and his desire to beat Australia has rubbed off on his teammates. They are playing as a tight unit and show no signs of letting up.

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Not even a few sharp showers at the MCG could disturb their concentration from the task at hand. Rejuvenated after a night’s sleep, the fast bowlers only took 27 deliveries to put India in the lead in the series and ensure the Border-Gavaskar trophy was heading home on their flight.

This was a very good win by an Indian team that is now confident and focused. However their captain - the most focused of them all - made it quite clear in the after match celebrations that capturing the trophy was not their main aim. Kohli is after the biggest prize of them all - Australia’s scalp.

(The writer is a former Australian Test captain and is writing exclusively for Hindustan Times. Views are personal.)