Pune: India were the firm favourites going into the four-Test match series against Australia, but the first Pune Test result, in which the hosts were humiliated by a 333-run loss within three days, has shocked the Indian cricket fans.
On the other hand, Australia skipper Steve Smith and his men are on cloud nine after orchestrating an emphatic victory against India, their first Test win on Indian soil in 13 years. Aussie left-spinner Steve O’Keefe scalped 12 wickets in the match as Australia broke India’s 19-Test unbeaten run and brought an end to their dubious distinction of losing 9 consecutive Tests in Asia.
While the team from Down Under played some exceptional cricket in Pune to stun the hosts, India dished out a less than ordinary performance to succumb to the devastating loss in their own backyard.
Here are the top three reasons why India fell flat in the first Test.
India tanked on the rank turner
Australian were offered a rank turner in Pune to begin their tour of India. Now it’s not known whether it was the team management’s decision or the curator’s to prepare a spin friendly pitch, but it was designed to give India an advantage. The strategy backfired, with Indian spinners failing to make the best use of the conditions.
Pacer Umesh Yadav emerged as India’s best bowler in the first innings with four wickets. On the other hand, O’Keefe dismantled Indian batters by taking six wickets in each innings as India managed only 212 runs in two innings.
Indian batters - who are traditionally seen as good players of spin bowling - failed to live up to the expectations. KL Rahul was the lone India batsman to cross the 50-run mark in Pune. The home team lost seven wickets in the space of 11 runs in the first innings to end their innings at 105.
The Australian batters made batting look relatively easier in alien conditions. While 20-year-old Matthew Renshaw played an impressive knock of 68 in the first innings, skipper Smith smashed a valorous 109 in the second innings, the only century of the Test.
India undone by poor fielding
There’s an old saying, ‘catches win matches’. The timeless wisdom was put aside by Indian fielders in Pune as they dropped four catches in the second innings; three of them were of captain Smith, on scores of 23, 29 and 37 – he punished them with a match-winning ton.
Close-in fielding on spin friendly pitches is extremely vital and Indian fielders failed in this department. Murali Vijay dropped Renshaw in leg slip, wile Abhinav Mukund failed to grab the easiest of catches at forward short leg.
On the contrary, Peter Handscomb and Australia fielders maintained a higher standard of fielding throughout the match.
The Australian spirit awakened in Pune
Australian cricket team are known for their indomitable spirit. The outfit’s mental strength has been credited as one of the biggest reasons behind their glorious cricketing history. The present Aussie unit is in transition and haven’t endured the best of times recently.
Sri Lanka whitewashed the Smith-led team 3-0 the last time they were in Asia for a Test series. They came into the series as underdogs and were hardly given any chance by the experts.
The long odds did very little to suppress the Australian spirit. Coach Darren Lehmann took his team to the ICC academy in Dubai to prepare them for the upcoming grind. The players backed their skills and fought resolutely to defy the world no. 1 Test team....