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Australia's harsh lesson — life ain’t fair when you play India in India

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Last updated on 09 Feb 2023 | 12:18 PM
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Australia's harsh lesson — life ain’t fair when you play India in India

It took Pat Cummins and Co. all of 87.5 overs to realize that life's not fair when you’re a touring side taking on India in their own backyard

You’re the number one Test side in the world. You’re not invincible, but you have every reason to think you kinda  are, considering you’ve lost only one of your 15 previous Tests. 

And though India is, on paper, the toughest country to tour, you have your reasons to believe that you stand a decent chance of winning. And very valid ones at that.

For a start, you feel that you’ve had adequate preparation. A week on custom-made turning tracks against local spinners — perfect. At least you feel that it couldn’t have been any better.

Injuries to bowlers are a bane, but Test matches in India are decided, more often than not, by the performance of batters, and you feel that you have enough experience, expertise and ammunition in your side to succeed on Indian wickets. 

Crucially, you feel all your batters are in a very good mental space.

And you also have a sense that the Indian side is vulnerable on the batting front. Especially when it turns viciously. 

You’ve seen it first hand — six years ago in Pune and Bangalore — and you also witnessed it a month ago in Mirpur, when India barely scraped to victory against Bangladesh on a minefield. 

So taking everything into account, you enter the first Test of the series brimming with confidence, ready to put on a show. 

You win the toss, opt to bat, and feel like everything’s coming together. You have a strong sense that today is going to be your day.

Eight hours go by and well, 177 runs with the bat and one wicket with the ball later, you realize that playing India in India is not fair.

***

It’s not fair. All these days, you’ve been sold the dream that you’re in the driver’s seat if you win the toss and bat, especially on a supposed minefield.

But nobody told you that you could be 2/2 inside 13 balls, with both wickets falling to the seamers.

OK. 2/2. Terrible, but you’ve witnessed these situations in the past. Marnus and Smith are out in the middle so you’ll be alright, in the ascendancy once they dig in, absorb the pressure and grind the opposition bowlers down.

They do that, it’s 84/2 and you’re breathing easy, knowing things are, in fact, okay, and will continue to be. Because, after all, in the middle are the two best batters in the world. There’s no way it could go wrong, especially given they’re set, even on a minefield.

How is it fair, then, that India manage to dismiss both of them even before they get to their respective fifties? 

And how is it fair that you find yourself five down for 109, despite having given no wickets to Ashwin and Axar Patel, the two bowlers who were earmarked to wreck the batting line-up?

Jadeja is a threat but he could be rusty, coming back from a lengthy lay-off’ they said. How is it fair that he casually bags a five-fer bowling for the first time in six months? 

Aren’t players that are coming back from lengthy injuries supposed to get injured again? Like Josh Hazlewood did?

And how is it fair that you get bowled out for 177 despite this Test producing the least amount of turn on the first day in any Test in India in the last two years? 

It’s not fair. It’s not fair that India can bowl you out cheaply even without getting much purchase. 

It’s not fair that the Indian spinners get just the right amount of turn to beat the bat and clatter into the stumps. 

Image courtesy: Star Sports

OK. 177. Poor, but what’s done is done. 

Good thing this is a wicket tilted in favour of the bowlers. You saw the same first hand whilst batting in the first innings.

So yes, you’re still in the game. You probably posted a slightly below-par  total but there’s no reason you can’t bowl yourself back into pole position.

You think so. But then you see India pile on 77 runs for the loss of one wicket, despite your spinners getting 0.5° more turn than their Indian counterparts.

They do so despite you also possessing the best fast bowler in the world, Patrick James Cummins. He was supposed to be as lethal as, if not more than, Siraj and Shami but he ends up getting taken apart for 27 runs off his four overs.

And just like that, in the blink of an eye, you find yourself behind in both this Test and the entire series. 

How is it fair?

Life’s not fair when you’re a touring side taking on India in their own backyard.

And it took Australia all of 87.5 overs to realize the same.

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