Australia v India, 3rd Test, Perth, 1st day January 13, 2012

Banter suggests India are resigned to defeat

Virat Kohli and Ishant Sharma replied to sledges from Australia's openers by telling them things would be reversed when Australia tours India. That is indicative that India have already conceded this series

You don't really get worse days in Test cricket than when the opposition has nearly taken a lead, with all their wickets in hand, at the end of the first day. The sledging contest - or banter as David Warner called it - between India's Virat Kohli and Ishant Sharma, and Australia's Warner and Ed Cowan was indicative of where the India players are at. They were not at the WACA for sure. Sledged about their batting averages, Kohli and Ishant defended the Indian batting unit by telling the Australia openers it would be a different story when they came to India.

One can only hope the whole India side does not think that way because it suggests they have already conceded this contest. The remarks, Warner said, told Australia that India were resigned to defeat. "In my mind, they think they are bowled over already," Warner said. "The challenge I see for them is they have got to work out how they are going to play outside India. I don't know where Indian cricket is going to be at when [Sachin] Tendulkar and [Rahul] Dravid retire over the next couple of years.

"Time will tell if we win 4-0, or if we win 3-0. Hopefully we can get this Test out of the way. Hopefully we can capitalise on the start we have got and win this Test."

To single out Kohli's sledge on a day on which he top-scored during India's shambolic innings would be to make an easy target of a young batsman playing his seventh Test; but his attitude might point to something intrinsically wrong about the direction this team is headed.

Today's play, believe or not, for a little while, did seem to be headed in the right direction for India. There are spells in Test cricket when you can easily take your eye off the action. Spells when you know nothing is going to happen, when the cricketers appear to be prepared for a post-lunch nap, when the atmosphere is one of contentment from a good meal, of a gentle breeze, of drooping eyes. There isn't much assistance from the pitch at such times, the batsmen look set, the runs trickle, and you can read the newspaper.

During this series, spells like that have only occurred when Australia have been batting. India's innings have been edge-of-the-seat stuff. There is always something happening, or something threatening to happen, which is a credit to the Australian bowling as well. Even when Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid had a 117-run partnership at the MCG, Dravid was edgy, Tendulkar was shutting up shop, and you could not miss a second of the action.

Today, though, India managed to enter a spell of relative calm for a brief while. It was a huge achievement. For the first time in the series there was a period of play when India were batting and there was nothing happening. It happened just after lunch.

Perhaps it was because the wind from the east, the drier variety that helps swing, had died down. Perhaps it was the heat. Perhaps Australia had stepped back a little. But during the first hour after lunch, with Kohli and VVS Laxman batting, you somehow felt India might go through a session without incident. Kohli kept flicking, Laxman struggled but he didn't look like he would get out. Then he cut and pulled boundaries. After the afternoon drinks break, though, Australia picked up the intensity. Kohli's runs dried up, and the loose drive away from the body duly arrived.

That has been the story of this tour. India's batsmen have not spent enough relaxed minutes on the pitch. The bowlers have come hard at them and, except for Tendulkar, most of them are spent by the time they reach a decent score.

Warner explained why India were not able to have prolonged sessions of calm batting. "If you bowl the fifth or sixth stump line [outside off stump], they don't like leaving the ball," Warner said. "They like trying to hit every ball so if we keep them fishing outside off they are going to nick one. And that's exactly what they have been doing."

India lost their best chance of winning a series in Australia in Sydney in 2003-04. Now they have just one finger on the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. It won't stay there if they keep thinking about what they will do when teams come to their backyard.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Roo on January 16, 2012, 5:12 GMT

    @dunger.bob... Agree with your comments... It is also somewhat funny that some of the Indian players are saying "wait until you play us at home"... lol... Most of the top Oz players now play IPL yearly, while also doing stints in County cricket... So our players are getting conditioned to play in various conditions while Indian & English players do not... I can see a lot of improvement for Ozy players but none for themselves...

  • Dummy4 on January 14, 2012, 19:16 GMT

    Thanks for giving a chance to Comment: Same Thing Happened with England in England. England Came to India and They are 5-0. Same thing will happen to Austrilia Sure.We have to accept results.Where Bangladesh unable to win Matches in there own Den. This Comment is For @banglafan: They are mice on their tailored pitches but any pitch having bounce turn them Cockroaches :) More I need to say?

    Comment with Courage.not to just show your Comments please.Win & Lose always be there in Game. yeah i accept if India dont Play fair, It hurts.Encourage THem instead of Discourage if you can.We are not experts comment on Any Team.

    Already India showed by being Number One Test and Oneday Team.Lets give a chance to other teams.if i am anybody hurting excuse me. Encourage them dont Laugh at Them or get Angry on them when they are wounded. thank you

  • Naresh on January 14, 2012, 7:08 GMT

    INDIA should look at ATUL SHARMA as a fast bowler. Fast bowlers make good batsman look tentative and thats what is happenning with Indian batsman. We dont have anything to give back when we are bounced, swung out. We have one in YADAV, but th extra pace of ATUL would be good.

  • VASANTHI on January 14, 2012, 6:59 GMT

    One must feel sorry for the elderly people in Indian team. Struggling to even walk fast - Zaheer, Sehwag, Dravid, Laxman. Once the ball past them, it is a boundary. But certainly wont give up! Stay there and block the entry for youngsters. Our fate!

  • abdul basit on January 14, 2012, 6:42 GMT

    come on guys lets have bouncy pitches all across india and let the champions practice with tennis balls being thrown up their throats..... this will make them have some ov their own coz at the moment they are void ov it...

  • Bang on January 14, 2012, 6:41 GMT

    @banglafan, you are so right! And India became snobbish and attained a sense of superiority thru media and billboard propaganda being models for corporate consumables. Though Sourav added some courage but the Indians again went back to Gavaskar narrated "why me?" era. They are tigers on their tailored pitches but any pitch having bounce turn them mice :) More I need to say?

  • VASANTHI on January 14, 2012, 6:29 GMT

    Indian fans should not lose control. We are yet to lose the T20s and ODIs. But it does not matter, we have IPL!

  • Vincent on January 14, 2012, 6:22 GMT


  • kannan on January 14, 2012, 6:14 GMT

    Never mind the brave face. Kohli is towing the official line, which is fine. But, India has some serious soul searching to do. Where do we go from here.? 1. Its time for at least 3 players in the indian team, Laxman, sehwag and Dravid to go. Laxman or Dravid has to be dropped in the next test itself for sharma. 2. Dhoni as test captain has to go. How can he captain such a rag tag team of no gooders? 3. Do a detailed review after the tour- leave no stone unturned. Question everything. the setup, the machinery, the support staff.. ( yes, i am dreaming). This collective denial ( all is well) does not work. Emphasise fitness, commitment and performance ( what is Zaheer Khan doing in the field and with the bat?) India is paying the price of non chalance and lack of planning. I saw this indian team practice in

  • Anupam on January 14, 2012, 6:00 GMT

    so agrees with my comments on harris in the column "hussey not thinking for 4-0 yet" & "marsh worth preserving him". check once again. BEER MUST REPLACE ONE PACE BOWLER.

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