India looked like a boxer that had taken too many blows by the time their five-Test series against England had come to an end.
Sure they played brilliantly during the first two Tests in Nottingham and Lord’s, but it’s not how you start the series, it’s how you finish.
England came roaring back in the third Test and pummeled India into submission. In fact, India looked as if they had already given up even before the fifth Test at The Oval had gotten underway.
However, England finally put India out of their misery, and did so in brutal fashion. They landed a devastating knockout punch when they skittled them out for 94 in the second innings of the fifth Test, which is now their third-lowest score in Test history.
I will never forget the look of humiliation and embarrassment on the face of each Indian player, especially captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and opening batsman Murali Vijay. This is because they fought with all their might to try and soften the blows that the national team were taking throughout the series.
They were eager to be the heroes that stood tall among the rubble, but due to the team losing by such a large and convincing margin their contributions are likely to be forgotten and become a thing of the past.
As an Indian fan, I was disgusted with India’s performance. To go from being 1-0 at the end of the second Test to 3-1 by the time the Test series was over was a humbling and infuriating experience. Honestly, it was gutting to watch India constantly brought to their knees and made to suffer before England finally delivered the kill shot.
It was a major relief when the series came to an end since I knew that India could be tortured no more. However, it was at that point in time that I realised what dangers were lurking just over the horizon in a place known as the Land Down Under.
If India perform like the way they did in the last three Tests against England when they tour Australia in December, then the baggy greens are going to have a field day and will likely whitewash the Indians 4-0. This got me thinking about how badly India are going to struggle in Australia.
If England showed no mercy, imagine what the baggy greens are capable of doing. One just has to remember the state of disarray England were left in when they travelled to Australia for the Ashes series in November last year. Furthermore, if India don’t show the urge or determination to fight back after being knocked down, then they will feel the full wrath of the baggy greens.
It was also extremely frustrating to watch India continuously make the same mistakes over and over again. Batsmen like Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara, who were supposed to be the duo to watch out for during the Test series against England, were made to look like headless chickens. They seemed to have no idea where their off-stump was, which resulted in them continuously being caught in the slip cordon.
The same thing can be said about the Indian bowlers. They didn’t focus on bowling the right line and length like the England bowlers did. Instead, they constantly tried to use the short ball to surprise the English batsmen. However, this failed miserably, and if you were to look at the bowling maps shown on Sky Sports it became even clearer that India’s line and length was all over the place.
One person who the Indians might find unplayable during their tour of Australia will be left-arm pace bowler Mitchell Johnson. If India’s batsmen struggled against England’s pace duo of Stuart Broad and James Anderson then they will have an absolute nightmare when facing Johnson. He is lightning quick and gets incredible bounce. However, Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle will also relish bowling at the Indians since they can bolster their own bowling statistics by channelling a lovely line and length.
In addition to this, England all-rounder Moeen Ali, who was dubbed as a part-time spinner at the beginning of the Test series, took 19 wickets at a superb average of 23. India are meant to be the best when it comes to playing spin since all their pitches at home are spin-friendly. However, one other question this raises is how much success Australian spinner Nathan Lyon will have.
Not only has Lyon been training with the legendary Muttiah Muralitharan, who is arguably the best spinner in the history of the sport, but he has also invented a new ball only known as ‘Jeff’. I shudder to think what kind of damage Lyon can inflict if Ali managed to pick up 19 wickets.
India also shot themselves in the foot by not agreeing to use the Decision Review System (DRS) during their Test series against England. There were many decisions that would have gone their way if the technology had been available, but as usual they decided to stick to their stubborn ways and paid a hefty price for it.
The exact same thing might happen in Australia if the DRS is not available. India have to stop clinging to their ideology about the DRS not having a positive influence on the game and learn to accept and cherish it.
Another reason why India will struggle in Australia is simply down to the fact that they have never really excelled in foreign conditions. This has been true for years now and one only has to look at their last couple of Test series which have taken place overseas.
They were beaten 1-0 by South Africa in December, 1-0 by New Zealand in January and then 3-1 by England in August. The worst part about this is that India have done nothing to rectify the fact that they constantly lose when playing in foreign conditions. Just training with the ball they will use during the series is not enough to guarantee them a win.
They have to go way beyond. For example, they might have to change some of their pitches at home to be more pace-friendly so that they master how to play fast bowling.
Futhermore, India also have to take full advantage of all the practice matches they have prior to the start of the series.
Instead of fielding a second-tier side, the national selectors should encourage all the main members of the team to participate in practice matches. It will allow the players to get accustomed to the conditions and learn what to expect from those types of pitches.
Remember what happened the last time India toured Australia in 2011-12? If you don’t, then let me refresh your memory.
India were whitewashed 4-0, but it was Australia’s dominance that captured the world’s attention. Australia captain Michael Clarke and his predecessor Ricky Ponting were run-scoring machines during that series. They amassed 626 runs at a magnificent average of 125.20 and 544 runs at an average of 108.80 respectively.
In fact, Clarke scored his career-best of 329 not-out during the second Test in Sydney. The pace duo of Ben Hilfenhaus and Peter Siddle also excelled during the series as they took 27 wickets at an average of 17.22 and 23 wickets at an average of 18.65 respectively.
Overall, it is clear that there are many reasons why India will struggle when they tour Australia in December. Not only is their team not up to scratch in all departments, but Australia have been unstoppable in the longest format of the game of late.
They whitewashed England 5-0 and even dethroned South Africa as the top-ranked Test team for a while after beating them 2-1 in March. If India bring the same kind of attitude and mindset they had during the last three Tests against England, then they will once again be manhandled and left battered and bruised at the end of yet another torturous series.