Australia v India, 4th Test, Adelaide January 23, 2012

Can the inviting Adelaide Oval revive India?

Apart from wondering why the series did not begin at the friendly Adelaide Oval, there will be much more running through Indian minds as they try to avoid a second straight overseas whitewash
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The Adelaide Oval is by a long distance the friendliest venue for visiting sides to Australia. The MCG can be intimidating with that crowd, the SCG is always a big occasion and can be a bit of a distraction, the WACA is harsh on even the slightest error with bat or with ball, but the Adelaide Oval is part charming, part benign.

It's not just the pitch, it's the general air around. Nobody stops you from entering the ground here, or walking around. You can walk into the Bradman Museum, no questions asked. You can watch rare footage, read stuff, bat like he did with a golf ball hit against a water tank. The replica tank, the stump, and the ball are all there. It is friendly for the spectators too. The many grass banks, the stands with canopies for cover, St Peter's Cathedral in the background, and the absence of big stands make for nice viewing.

Then there is the pitch, almost benevolent if you are coming straight from the WACA. Bat the first hour of the Test out, and then you can pitch a tent here. There are the short square boundaries, and the near desert heat to beat the bowlers down. All in all, just the tease you don't need when you are 3-0 down. A ground made to make you feel why the hell you didn't start the series here.

Apart from that thought, there will be much more running through Indian minds as they try to avoid a second straight overseas whitewash. How to get a score of 400 with the match still alive, is one of them. It seems they have been undone by a simple plan. It's so blatant it's subtle. Just don't give them boundaries, bowl a tight line, extract some movement, and the batting line-up with tens of thousands of runs between them will edge the ball.

"I think they are bowling in good areas," Virender Sehwag, the stand-in captain, said of the batting struggles over the last seven overseas Tests. "They are not giving easy balls to hit boundaries and they are playing with your patience, you know, so I think this is the best bowling attack I've ever seen. Against Australia, generally when I played in the past, you know, I'd get couple of balls in early overs to hit the boundary, but [against] this attack, I hardly get a ball to be hit, so I think it's one of the best bowling attacks."

Some others already have their minds back in India. "We'll see how they fare in India, on our pitches," they seem to be thinking. It is natural for these thoughts to cross your mind towards the end of a long unsuccessful tour, but not only are these comments poorly timed, the idea that they might be dominating their minds is not a sign of a side that is desperate to come back and do well here.

Sehwag suggested the same, but with more tact. "I think if you look at it other way round, whoever comes to India they also lose Test matches," he said. "Australia came to India and they lost two series, two-nil and two-nil. Yes, I felt bad because we've done well overseas in the last ten years, and suddenly in the last two tours we are not doing well so we are not living up to expectations. But we are working hard, we are trying hard, we are doing everything we can do, and we are practising hard. Sometimes these things are not in your control and you just go and try to give your best and sometimes it clicks and sometimes it doesn't. This is a part of life, part of the game."

There are others who will be going through a completely different set of emotions. Those who had worked hard for ten years to give India the reputation of a fighting team away from home, too, will be wondering where it all went wrong. Sachin Tendulkar, in particular, and Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman have walked out to big ovations at every ground. For sure this will be the last time in Australia for Dravid and Laxman. For Laxman, this might be the last time ever. Tendulkar you never know. Nobody will be telling Dravid and Laxman the endearing Aussie farewell, "Seeyalayter".

Outside the XI, Rohit Sharma will be asking himself if he is so bad that he can't get into a side that has lost seven away Tests on the bounce. MS Dhoni, the captain banned for slow over-rates, will be wondering where those times have gone when he could do no wrong.

India have only ever clean-swept two Test series longer than two matches in the history of their cricket. Now they are fighting to avoid a second whitewash within months of each other, that too as the No. 1 and No. 2 side in the world respectively. Even at a venue best suited to their batsmen, avoiding this whitewash will be as big a mental and emotional challenge as it will be technical.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • azurecharms on January 24, 2012, 5:23 GMT

    Team India is swallowing what they cultivated on tailor made run scoring surfaces! Now Mr. Gautam Gambhir is challenging India will make rank turner when Aussie will visit! Impeccable reply to their exposure on green-top bouncies! Next time Team India should bring pitches from India when they will visit Eng-Aus-SA. They got lots of money and Gautam-Tailored pitches could be imported from India! They would have to send the pitch carrying ship liner two months before the series though!

  • ONE4U on January 24, 2012, 5:10 GMT

    @CricIndia208: Then it would be better that India announce permanent retirement from Test Cricket.

  • notvery on January 24, 2012, 0:57 GMT

    @CricIndia208 - incorrect. if your logic is correct then England are the WORLD CHAMPIONS (excuse my capitalisation). Clearly you think that the shorter versions are more important so the shortest version is 20/20 which has England as world champs...so really india are champions of what? something no one cares about....

  • Meety on January 23, 2012, 23:52 GMT

    Defeatest mentality. Whilst Oz have lost their last 2 series in India & it is easily the hardest play for an Oz side to tour, the 2-test series was very close & Oz could nearly have won that series 2nil. Oz will compete no matter what, whereas India really have lost interest with few exceptions from Day 2 in Sydney.

  • GalaxyHeights on January 23, 2012, 22:11 GMT

    Last time in Oz for Dravid & Laxman but for Tendulkar YOUR NEVER KNOW??? Seriously - why is everybody in the media/ex-players, all n sundry willing to give that long rope to Tendulkar? Seems like he is never going to go...unbelievable

  • Mitcher on January 23, 2012, 22:05 GMT

    I've got to add, quite telling how a couple of articles earlier in the series about supposedly diifficult pitches - even when untrue in the case of Sydney highway - would have had 300 comments by now. But since this one points out Adelaide will be a belter it doesn't fit the "Indian fans' guidebook to pathetic excuses for losing", they stay away.

  • Buggsy on January 23, 2012, 21:33 GMT

    In response to the article header, no, India can't be revived by a win, not even a thumping one. They've already proved their inability to play swing and bounce and there's no hiding from that. And with nearly two years of home games (lord knows how they managed to pull that off) it's only going to get worse.

  • Sutiro on January 23, 2012, 21:28 GMT

    The historical statistics really don't support the myth of Indian dominance at home v Aust. It took India 30 years (79/80) to win its first series in India against Australia and that was during the World Series debacle when Australia had half a team. Overall the stats show that series wins stand at 4 each with 2 drawn. (The one off test in 96/97 does not constitute a series.) Australia's record in India stands at 11 tests won and 13 lost. Not the graveyard the media portrays! A couple of those lost series were really close. The 2000/01 series would rank one of the best of all time. Australia last won a series in India in 04/05 and has lost 2 since. Compare this with India's record of losses in Aust. (series losses 8-0, 27 tests lost, 6 wins).

    It isn't that Australia plays badly in the sub-continent conditions (ref. our record in SL, BD and Pakistan), it is just that India plays it a little better at home and so it should. But they aren't as dominating as is suggested.

  • ProdigyA on January 23, 2012, 21:16 GMT

    I think another important point is being missed here. Everybody is blaming the batting and pace bowling but i think the Spin blowling is also equally responsible. We Indians are heavily dependent on spiners to take wickets irrespective of the conditions. But in both England and here in Aus, the spinners have been highly dissapointing. Best example is Ajmal, he is single-handedly winning games for Pak.

  • ProdigyA on January 23, 2012, 21:09 GMT

    I dont understand why we keep saying that our batting line up is "Powerful". Let me tell you - 1. Sehwag is a walking time bomb, no sane person will have realistic hopes from him. If he fires, its awesome else it was expected. 2. Gambhir, with his form over the last two years, is hopeless. 3. Dravid, - yes there is some hope. 4. Sachin - Lots of hope with lots of nervousness. 5. VVS - Hopeless abroad. 6. MS - Useless abroad. 7. Tail - Hopeless with both bat n ball. So basically, once Dravid and Sachin are out its all curtains for team India. Others can only delay the debacle but not good enough to prevent it. This is the reason why we are not able to score >300 abroad. Still call it POWERFUL?

  • azurecharms on January 24, 2012, 5:23 GMT

    Team India is swallowing what they cultivated on tailor made run scoring surfaces! Now Mr. Gautam Gambhir is challenging India will make rank turner when Aussie will visit! Impeccable reply to their exposure on green-top bouncies! Next time Team India should bring pitches from India when they will visit Eng-Aus-SA. They got lots of money and Gautam-Tailored pitches could be imported from India! They would have to send the pitch carrying ship liner two months before the series though!

  • ONE4U on January 24, 2012, 5:10 GMT

    @CricIndia208: Then it would be better that India announce permanent retirement from Test Cricket.

  • notvery on January 24, 2012, 0:57 GMT

    @CricIndia208 - incorrect. if your logic is correct then England are the WORLD CHAMPIONS (excuse my capitalisation). Clearly you think that the shorter versions are more important so the shortest version is 20/20 which has England as world champs...so really india are champions of what? something no one cares about....

  • Meety on January 23, 2012, 23:52 GMT

    Defeatest mentality. Whilst Oz have lost their last 2 series in India & it is easily the hardest play for an Oz side to tour, the 2-test series was very close & Oz could nearly have won that series 2nil. Oz will compete no matter what, whereas India really have lost interest with few exceptions from Day 2 in Sydney.

  • GalaxyHeights on January 23, 2012, 22:11 GMT

    Last time in Oz for Dravid & Laxman but for Tendulkar YOUR NEVER KNOW??? Seriously - why is everybody in the media/ex-players, all n sundry willing to give that long rope to Tendulkar? Seems like he is never going to go...unbelievable

  • Mitcher on January 23, 2012, 22:05 GMT

    I've got to add, quite telling how a couple of articles earlier in the series about supposedly diifficult pitches - even when untrue in the case of Sydney highway - would have had 300 comments by now. But since this one points out Adelaide will be a belter it doesn't fit the "Indian fans' guidebook to pathetic excuses for losing", they stay away.

  • Buggsy on January 23, 2012, 21:33 GMT

    In response to the article header, no, India can't be revived by a win, not even a thumping one. They've already proved their inability to play swing and bounce and there's no hiding from that. And with nearly two years of home games (lord knows how they managed to pull that off) it's only going to get worse.

  • Sutiro on January 23, 2012, 21:28 GMT

    The historical statistics really don't support the myth of Indian dominance at home v Aust. It took India 30 years (79/80) to win its first series in India against Australia and that was during the World Series debacle when Australia had half a team. Overall the stats show that series wins stand at 4 each with 2 drawn. (The one off test in 96/97 does not constitute a series.) Australia's record in India stands at 11 tests won and 13 lost. Not the graveyard the media portrays! A couple of those lost series were really close. The 2000/01 series would rank one of the best of all time. Australia last won a series in India in 04/05 and has lost 2 since. Compare this with India's record of losses in Aust. (series losses 8-0, 27 tests lost, 6 wins).

    It isn't that Australia plays badly in the sub-continent conditions (ref. our record in SL, BD and Pakistan), it is just that India plays it a little better at home and so it should. But they aren't as dominating as is suggested.

  • ProdigyA on January 23, 2012, 21:16 GMT

    I think another important point is being missed here. Everybody is blaming the batting and pace bowling but i think the Spin blowling is also equally responsible. We Indians are heavily dependent on spiners to take wickets irrespective of the conditions. But in both England and here in Aus, the spinners have been highly dissapointing. Best example is Ajmal, he is single-handedly winning games for Pak.

  • ProdigyA on January 23, 2012, 21:09 GMT

    I dont understand why we keep saying that our batting line up is "Powerful". Let me tell you - 1. Sehwag is a walking time bomb, no sane person will have realistic hopes from him. If he fires, its awesome else it was expected. 2. Gambhir, with his form over the last two years, is hopeless. 3. Dravid, - yes there is some hope. 4. Sachin - Lots of hope with lots of nervousness. 5. VVS - Hopeless abroad. 6. MS - Useless abroad. 7. Tail - Hopeless with both bat n ball. So basically, once Dravid and Sachin are out its all curtains for team India. Others can only delay the debacle but not good enough to prevent it. This is the reason why we are not able to score >300 abroad. Still call it POWERFUL?

  • cric009 on January 23, 2012, 20:54 GMT

    Some of the old heroes like Dravid, Tendulkar and VVS will take an opportuinity to score some runs this time on the flat track and the test match result might be dull DRAW; And they will preserve their spot for another few years!! God saves india cricket now..

  • Mitcher on January 23, 2012, 20:18 GMT

    No doubt, Australia was dominated on its last two trips to India - with a rebuilding side at one of it's lowest ebbs in decades. On the other hand, this is supposed to be one of the best ever Indian sides that we were told ad nauseum had it's best chance to win in Australia (finally) and would expose a weak Australian side in swinging/seaming conditions. How quickly and conveniently the fans (and players) have changed their tune to - oh, it's the pitches, nobody wins away. Quite comical.

  • bharatavarsha on January 23, 2012, 19:51 GMT

    I hope Viru is bold enough to shuffle the batting order, playing Virat at number 3. Even if Kohli fails (as he probably would, esp. if he drives on the off side!) it would take considerable stress off Dravid and SRT. The calls for young blood sound vampir-ish and are nonsensical; the best players should play, period. If Ponting and Hussey can be shielded then why not the two Indians ? And to grudge VVS his swansong-that's churlish...

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on January 23, 2012, 19:41 GMT

    Sachin has been failing since the England tour with no success even at home against the Windies. And it's been more than an year since he scored a meaningful century home or away. VVS at least had a good outing against the Windies. Let's not even bring the wonderful Dravid into this discussion about underperformers. Dhoni, Sachin, Vinay, Ishant, Gambhir, Sehwag have to go in that order from most useless to less useless.

  • on January 23, 2012, 19:10 GMT

    There will be just the two changes, from the last test - Saha, naturally, for Dhoni and Ashwin for Vinay Kumar. The Indian think tank don't have the gall to rest Dravid, Laxman and Ishant Sharma. Rahane, Rohit Sharma and Ojha would be befitting replacements.

  • on January 23, 2012, 18:02 GMT

    @CricIndia208. wow, what a hopeless statement! with people like you around, test cricket has no hope. Cricinfo, for the love of Indian test cricket, please publish this.

  • Rumy1 on January 23, 2012, 17:02 GMT

    What a shame that Gambhir who averages in 20s in overseas Tests for last 3 seasons and Saha who has at best been a traveller with little to show at domestic level will be playing in Adelaide. Where is India's best opener after Sehwag - Wasim Jaffer. Why is he not in playing eleven despite class, technique and range of shot. Saha is not India's best keeper after Dhoni. It is Ibrahim Khaleel of Hyderabad. Just look at the records of Saha, Karthik, Parthiv and Khaleel...i.e dismissals per innings and you will get the answer. Wicketkeepers in Tests worldwide are selected based on their keeping skills and not batting skills. One dropped catch can cost a match. Experts of the game vouch that Khaleel is equally good against spin and pace. hisfirst class record shows 2.5 dismisslas per innings whereas likes of the favorites - Saha, Parthiv and Karthik aren't beyond 1.9 dismissals per innings. And Khallel is a good bat too. And he is only 29. The BCCI's favorites are also in their late 26/27s.

  • buntyj on January 23, 2012, 16:30 GMT

    on indias past few tours oz havent had a good swing bowler this has led to good scores by indian batsmen; from mid afternoon the seabreeze helps good swing bowlers (abid, kapil, agarkar got 5 fors here mainly from mid afternoon); this time oz has good swing bowlers; so indian batsmen shouldnt take for granted; otherwise is a belter days 1-3 n spins last 2 days (tho no indian spinner has a 5 for here);

  • zico123 on January 23, 2012, 14:47 GMT

    why don't we pick team on form, if Rohit sharma is in good form and laxman isn't, why can't he make way for Rohit to come in, it doesn't have to mark end of laxman's career necessarily, there is nothing to lose by trying Rohit Sharma in one test match in Auistralia, if we don't try you would never know how he would have flared

  • rahulcricket007 on January 23, 2012, 13:35 GMT

    WHETHER ADELAIDE IS A REAL FLAT TRACK LIKE INDIAN PITCHES OR NOT , THE RESULT OF THIS MATCH IS INEVITABLE . INDIA WILL LOSE BY AN INNINGS & WITHIN 4 DAYS .

  • CricIndia208 on January 23, 2012, 13:16 GMT

    Who cares for these meaningless test series. World Cup is the pinnacle of cricket and INDIA ARE THE WORLD CHAMPIONS.

  • S.Jagernath on January 23, 2012, 12:49 GMT

    Its an unbelievable fall for India.The BCCI is definitely to blame.At the start of the England tour,Gautam Gambhir averaged 51 but now he averages 46.He has not even performed in India against the West Indies.VVS Laxman and Gambhir are candidates to be left out along with Ishant Sharma but that won't happen.

  • on January 23, 2012, 11:10 GMT

    Leaving the young players is a complete shame. If Rohit do not get a chance this series, it means the days of Azhar as captain is back. It is all seniority and internal politics. Shame on Indian selectors and Dhoni to let it happen. Our cricket has gone 12 years backwards.

  • on January 23, 2012, 10:51 GMT

    India will win this match for consolation...

  • Smithie on January 23, 2012, 9:59 GMT

    A well thought through, insightful analysis. Your output has improved significantly as the tour has progressed and your logic has not shown bias - well done. Sound attributes - perhaps the next Editor ?

  • Abhimanyu on January 23, 2012, 9:49 GMT

    OMG, this article made me laugh to the point that tears were popping out of my eyes. What Sehwag said was the funniest... LMAO!!

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • Abhimanyu on January 23, 2012, 9:49 GMT

    OMG, this article made me laugh to the point that tears were popping out of my eyes. What Sehwag said was the funniest... LMAO!!

  • Smithie on January 23, 2012, 9:59 GMT

    A well thought through, insightful analysis. Your output has improved significantly as the tour has progressed and your logic has not shown bias - well done. Sound attributes - perhaps the next Editor ?

  • on January 23, 2012, 10:51 GMT

    India will win this match for consolation...

  • on January 23, 2012, 11:10 GMT

    Leaving the young players is a complete shame. If Rohit do not get a chance this series, it means the days of Azhar as captain is back. It is all seniority and internal politics. Shame on Indian selectors and Dhoni to let it happen. Our cricket has gone 12 years backwards.

  • S.Jagernath on January 23, 2012, 12:49 GMT

    Its an unbelievable fall for India.The BCCI is definitely to blame.At the start of the England tour,Gautam Gambhir averaged 51 but now he averages 46.He has not even performed in India against the West Indies.VVS Laxman and Gambhir are candidates to be left out along with Ishant Sharma but that won't happen.

  • CricIndia208 on January 23, 2012, 13:16 GMT

    Who cares for these meaningless test series. World Cup is the pinnacle of cricket and INDIA ARE THE WORLD CHAMPIONS.

  • rahulcricket007 on January 23, 2012, 13:35 GMT

    WHETHER ADELAIDE IS A REAL FLAT TRACK LIKE INDIAN PITCHES OR NOT , THE RESULT OF THIS MATCH IS INEVITABLE . INDIA WILL LOSE BY AN INNINGS & WITHIN 4 DAYS .

  • zico123 on January 23, 2012, 14:47 GMT

    why don't we pick team on form, if Rohit sharma is in good form and laxman isn't, why can't he make way for Rohit to come in, it doesn't have to mark end of laxman's career necessarily, there is nothing to lose by trying Rohit Sharma in one test match in Auistralia, if we don't try you would never know how he would have flared

  • buntyj on January 23, 2012, 16:30 GMT

    on indias past few tours oz havent had a good swing bowler this has led to good scores by indian batsmen; from mid afternoon the seabreeze helps good swing bowlers (abid, kapil, agarkar got 5 fors here mainly from mid afternoon); this time oz has good swing bowlers; so indian batsmen shouldnt take for granted; otherwise is a belter days 1-3 n spins last 2 days (tho no indian spinner has a 5 for here);

  • Rumy1 on January 23, 2012, 17:02 GMT

    What a shame that Gambhir who averages in 20s in overseas Tests for last 3 seasons and Saha who has at best been a traveller with little to show at domestic level will be playing in Adelaide. Where is India's best opener after Sehwag - Wasim Jaffer. Why is he not in playing eleven despite class, technique and range of shot. Saha is not India's best keeper after Dhoni. It is Ibrahim Khaleel of Hyderabad. Just look at the records of Saha, Karthik, Parthiv and Khaleel...i.e dismissals per innings and you will get the answer. Wicketkeepers in Tests worldwide are selected based on their keeping skills and not batting skills. One dropped catch can cost a match. Experts of the game vouch that Khaleel is equally good against spin and pace. hisfirst class record shows 2.5 dismisslas per innings whereas likes of the favorites - Saha, Parthiv and Karthik aren't beyond 1.9 dismissals per innings. And Khallel is a good bat too. And he is only 29. The BCCI's favorites are also in their late 26/27s.