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India's super long tail must improve

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Roar Guru
18th December, 2018
8

By 1991 the great West Indian era was closer to its end than its beginning. Gorden Greenidge and Viv Richards were close to retirement and Malcolm Marshall was playing in his final home series.

Australia sensed they could beat them. They had a good top order and a handy fast bowling unit featuring Merv Hughes, Craig McDermott and Bruce Reid.

The West Indies won the series on the back of some great cricket, and part of that was how ruthless they were to Australia’s tail.

In the first Test Australia lost their last five wickets for 14 runs. In the third Test Australia lost their last four wickets for one run.

They lost five for 34 and five for eight in the fourth Test. The series was over and Australia went 2-0 down with a Test to play.

The West Indies had developed a pattern of having Australia six for and then all out very quickly. There was no frustration in the field with a nuisance tail-order batsman holding up an end while the bowlers got annoyed with it all. They just got the tail in and out and allowed their batsmen to get on with business.

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What happened to India’s tail twice in Perth will always make it difficult to win Test matches. Sure, the bowlers are there primarily to take wickets, and batsmen like KL Rahul and Murali Vijay, who have both been having a summer holiday in Australia to date, need to stand up. But the tail cannot be so brittle.

At the moment they are a walk in the park for the Australians. After Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane had got India to within touching distance of Australia’s first-innings total, the last four batsmen contributed a total of ten runs. India conceded a first innings lead where batting last was always going to be a difficult assignment.

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It didn’t get any better the second time around for the final four Indian batsmen. Between them they managed a total of two runs. Australia came home with a wet sail to level the series.

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The top teams find ways to dig themselves out of trouble. On many occasions a Paul Reiffel or a Jason Gillespie helped Australia fight their way out of a corner. Malcolm Marshall or a Dale Steyn had also done it for their respective teams. There has to be some fight. There has to be some resistance.

To fall over and surrender will only make it harder as India attempt to make history by winning in Australia for what would be the first time.

Their lower order have more than a week before the third Test starts to get to the nets and pick up a bat as well as a ball.