It has been a dreading couple of weeks for Australia on the Indian shore, as the local spinners - Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja - wreaked havoc to hand India a 2-0 lead in the series and thus helping India retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy once again. Australian batters looked listless against the Indian attack and their tentativeness reached such a height that they were forced to play sweep shots against the Indian spinners even though the variable bounce was causing problems big-time.
Australia Head Coach Andrew McDonald, while surging off that the team lacked practice, added that it was the perceived pressure that dictated the course for their players and they succumbed to that.
"We've got to be better than that, that's the bottom line," McDonald said. "We've got to own it and we are not here to shy away from the fact that wasn't good enough.
"We felt like we had India in a really vulnerable position, it was the first time in the series we saw the fielders back and [R] Ashwin having to control the tempo. Usually, it's pretty much a ring field, and hard to rotate the strike and we felt like Marnus [Labuschagne] and Smudge [Steven Smith] had the game in their control at 2 for 85 looking to extend that lead.
"The rest was pretty plain to see, pretty poor. It's once again pressure and, in this case, more perceived pressure than anything. In the first game, we were coming from a long way behind.”
McDonald feels that instead of being in a hurry to establish the advantage, they should have prioritized having a base established first. The Head Coach further stated that Aussie players moved away from the pre-series plans they had devised for themselves.
"It felt like at times we wanted to rush to a total. We were in a hurry to build that lead and as we know here it is attritional cricket, you can do that over time. Our methods are going to be critiqued and rightfully so. There were some people who went clearly away from the game plan that made them successful over a period of time and that's for us to own as a collective."
Further, McDonald was all praise for Usman Khawaja and Peter Handscomb for employing contrasting yet effective methods to score runs and being effective about it. In the first innings, Usman Khawaja employed sweeps and reverse sweeps to perfection and which resulted in the fifties from the duo.
"You talk about sweeping, Uz was sweeping first innings and gets applauded for it, so there is a balance," McDonald said. "Uz was outstanding sweeping and reverse-sweeping. Even Marn day two put [Ravindra] Jadeja under clear pressure with the sweep shot. We don't want to go away from that as part of that method is finding that balance and you do need an element of good fortune on surfaces like that.
“There are a lot of balls that spin past the outside edge and I thought the way that Travis Head applied himself and his dismissal, he easily could have played and missed or found the edge and it goes down and then you get an opportunity to build your innings. There is an element of chance off the surface.
"I'm not saying the conditions were diabolical by any stretch of the imagination. If you apply the method over a period of time, as we saw with Uz and Pete Handscomb, they did it totally differently.
"Pete did it more on the vertical plane and Uz did it more on the horizontal plane with sweeps and reverse sweeps. Everyone is going to have a different way of doing it and what we need to do is be clear on what works for the individual and it is clear that some went away from the method they usually use and you know who they are,” McDonald added.