On Friday the 13th January 2012, Indian cricket burst into flames. History shall record it as such. Much like the Phoenix, the mythical bird, made famous by J.K.Rowling in her classic Harry Potter series, Indian cricket now has the opportunity to be reborn from its ashes. To regain the ability to cure all wounds and carry weights well beyond its own, read Indian cricket fans!
Today, the first day at Perth, was the most one sided of days in recent test cricket. India, ranked the champion test side until six months ago dropped to new lows in each department. The batting and the bowling crumbled spectacularly under relentless pressure. You know the scorecard, however, some telling stats that justify the burning down analogy. In batting, this is India’s third innings sub 200 from the last four outings. In bowling, they have now conceded 771 runs for one wicket, that of Ponting at Sydney.
The harsh reality of international sport at the highest level - one can’t win from memory. It’s a complex mix of ability, agility, ambition, application and form; relative to the opposition, in the given conditions, with a dollop of fortune. It takes more than just ability, particularly when other factors weigh against it. India is now delivered to the doorstep of change, and change they must.
Australia might thank India for helping complete their two year long rebuilding program. After mixed series recently, consistent and dominant performances now will certainly propel Australia up the rankings, and ambitions. Assuredly the next Ashes series is fantastically set up. India have been good for English and Australian cricket in the past six months!
To be fair, India owe gratitude to Australia, for finally pushing them to the precipice, making a convincing argument to get past inertia and begin the rebuild. Strong argument I’d say, when you consider that this Perth test is at real risk of becoming India’s biggest embarrassment. It could well be over in just two days of play! Consider this - Warner continues until lunch tomorrow and Clarke declares 250 ahead, say an hour after lunch. Will India manage to keep the Aussie bowlers out until day three? If you are with me so far, you can’t argue that this match will not see tea time on day three.
Some senior Indian players are contemplating their test future tonight, no doubt. The channels need clearing up for younger ability, to join the ranks and have the time to establish. In my estimation, VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid, Zaheer Khan, M S Dhoni and Virender Sehwag need to rethink their future in test cricket, beyond Australia. As to Tendulkar, he continues to demonstrate the ability to play test cricket, despite the pressure of reduced agility. His 100th century pressure notwithstanding, he could choose to continue for the present.
Given the Indian squad on the tour, I would be surprised if Rohit, Rahane and Ojha don’t get a game at Adelaide now. In addition, the selectors need to have the rebuilding agenda to include spinners and all-rounders for tests. I’d like Rahul Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja and Irfan Pathan to be given breaks sooner rather than later.
This subject of rebuilding is a pandora’s box! Let the good times begin.