India v Australia – Bangalore Test: India fire back in ferocious contest

India have leveled the series by ripping through Australia’s fragile batting. The ferocity of the Bengaluru contest was stunning and demonstrated again why Test cricket is the game’s best format.

 

Frantic tension ran through each session and the match turned on its head every few hours. India looked more aggressive than I have ever seen.

Virat Kohli has accused Australia of cheating. Struck on the pad and given out during the frantic fourth innings run chase, Smith appeared to seek guidance on a review from the pavilion. Umpire Llong recognised this and immediately dismissed Smith.

It was not appropriate or within the laws of the game and Smith acknowledged this describing it as a ‘brain fade’ after the match. He will learn and change. But will Kohli change his own often over-the-top approach?

Kohli’s passion and qualities as a batsman are clear, but he must gain maturity and develop humility and tact to be better leader.

The Indians were incensed by Smith’s glance and this will add more rage and drama to the series.

 

The one that got away

 

Australia nearly pulled off a miraculous victory. After losing the toss and bowling first it seemed likely India would make amends for their humiliating loss in Pune but Australia’s bowlers tore through their resistance.

The Australians knew that batting last would be tough and the bulk of their batting had to be done in the first innings. They amassed a handy 87 run lead.

But it wasn’t enough.

In the second innings India seemed on the rails again when Kohli was dismissed cheaply for a fourth time in the series. He was absolutely seething at the third umpire’s decision to dismiss a DRS appeal and support the on-field umpire’s LBW decision.

It was close, but it was correct.

Strangely, Jadeja was sent out to bat at five. A handy number 8 at best, it was never going to end well while Australia’s quicks were tearing into the blood mist.

After Jadeja’s stumps were shattered India were 4 down and only 33 ahead. The normally raucous Indian crowd was stunned into disbelieving silence. Australia were rampant.

The next partnership changed the game though and Pujarra and Rahane’s 118 run stand – the biggest of the series by either team – took the lead into dangerous territory for Australia’s collapsible batting.

It seemed the lead could go well beyond 200 but after taking the new ball on the fourth day Australia took 4 wickets from 11 balls and finished off India’s tail.

They needed 188 to win the Test, go two nil up and secure the Border-Gavaskar trophy.

It was always going to be tougher than it seemed. As I wrote before the series we knew Australia’s bowlers could expose India’s batting but it would come down to how well Australia could resist Ashwin and Jadeja and bat long and bat big.

India’s quicks, Ishant and Yadav, have also bowled well and have rarely offered Australia notable reprieve from the constant pressure of the spinners. Despite this there were signs that Australia’s batting had improved, playing a more patient and disciplined game as demanded by Smith.

The First Test 333 run thumping of India was a shock. It was a remarkable achievement for Australia and Smith’s fine century was made sweeter by the fact that the match referee reported the wicket to the ICC for failing to meet international standards.

But the the quick pre-series paint job started to crack and Australia’s corrosive batting was exposed in the Begaluru run chase. It needs to be stiffened again if they are stay in the series because Kohli is unlikely to keep failing and India are due to score big runs.

 

What next?

 

He has some supporters but Mitchell Marsh is not good enough at this stage to be batting in Australia’s top six. With Wade at 7 averaging only 29 in Tests, Australia needs six proper top order batsmen. Not a bloke that averages 22, fewer than number 8 Mitchell Starc.

Having a fifth bowler is a luxury Australia cannot afford. Some prefer Glenn Maxwell but I prefer Usman Khawaja. That may require an order reshuffle, so be it.

India are unlikely to change their winning formula unless Murali Vijay recovers from injury.

Surprisingly the wickets presented so far have not supported long innings. But that may change, the final two venues will be flatter and tougher work for the bowlers.

The next Test begins on 16 March in Ranchi.

Cricket Froth will be on the job in India for the final two Tests. See you soon.

About Pat White

I love Test cricket and struggle to embrace T20. One is like reading a great novel with a twisting plot and intriguing characters and the other is a cheap and trashy magazine. But the popular trashy mag is here to stay. So let's help cricket's new audience discover the romance and frantic drama of cricket's greatest format; Test Match. Join me for some non-establishment cricket analysis and get involved by posting a comment.

Comments

  1. John Butler says:

    Have a great trip Pat. I’m envious.

  2. Peter Warrington says:

    yes it was fascinating. calm. and then avalanche. again and again.

    i think Lyon’s 0-for in the second innings hurt us. his defenders cannot blame Smith for that, he bowled him again and again. were it not for Starc and Hazlewood at the end we would have lost by 150.

    having said that, my disdain for Lyon is well known and he tore me a new one on Day 1. so, as with most things, yeah-nah.

    yesterday reminded me of the bad old days. we didn’t seem to have a tempo. there was chaos around the Marsh review. the middle order were terrible. what could have gone wrong, did. Handscomb finally looked set and was left stranded, Starc was unlucky but MMarsh, Wade, O’Keefe and Lyon all went softly in different ways.

    smith was plumb but the umpire had it under control, and the laws are clear – the punishment for looking at the dressing room is to lose the right to review. bad look, but that’s it.

    Khawaja AND Maxwell in. we cannot lose the next test. if we are 1-1 heading to the 4th we will win it. if we are 1-2 it will be 1-3.

    we have not made more than 270. neither have India, I know. but we have to pick a team that can at least make 400 if not 5 6 or 7. wickets will come, and it doesn’t matter if they don’t.

    and Warner. you must bat. and bat. and bat. the flat track home bully tag is unfair. up to a point…

  3. E.regnans says:

    Safe travels, Pat.
    How terrific.
    #wellplayed

  4. Yesterday’s was an appalling collapse.

    Looking forward to your reports from the grounds, Pat.
    Good luck.

  5. Peter_B says:

    Kohli’s ferocious drive and intensity won the Test for India, even though he is having a bad trot with the bat. He intimidates his own players as much as the opposition. Noone does mind games like Kohli. I’m sure he’s up at 4am tweeting Trump and Jadeja.
    Developing humility and tact could make him a nicer person, but NOT a better leader.

  6. DBalassone says:

    Wonderful analysis Pat. I reckon chasing 188 in those conditions was like chasing 400 here. Mission impossible.

    Hated losing, but am loving the way Kohli carries on. Great entertainment. I think it’s a bit rich some of these ex-cricketers having a crack at him. Let him be. It’s fun to watch. A bit like watching Randy Savage whenever someone got too close to Elizabeth. Great theatre.

  7. Thanks for the comments guys. I too enjoy Kohli’s enthusiasm and I agree with Peter B that he extracts enormous performances from his players, partly by intimating them. He sets high standards and it is exciting to see an Indian team that can bat, bowl and field well and attack opponents aggressively and with confidence. Not all Indian sides could boast these features. I wouldn’t like to see Kohli lose the passion but on occasion he might consider the long term cultural impact on his team stemming from some of his antics and actions.

    Peter W I’d be interested to know who you would drop to fit both Khawaja and Maxwell in?

  8. Steve Fahey says:

    Great report Pat on a great Test match.

    While the result and the fourth innings collapse were disappointing, many stronger teams have lost much more heavily after losing the toss in India on what was another very ordinary wicket. The Aussies played lots of good cricket during this match,it is not a catastrophe.

    There have been no longer innings because Bradman would have struggled to bat long on the decks served up so far.

    Kohli’s passion, especially winding up the crowd., was great theatre, but I thought he was way over the line (think Curtly Ambrose in Perth to Warney) with his behaviour towards the batsmen, especially to Smith in the first innings when he stood next to him and mouthed off at the non-striker’s end. Definitely deserving of sanction and he does have some previous disciplinary form. A great player but this was very poor form.

    Huge kudos toPujara and Rahane, whose partnership turned and won the game, as Pat noted.

  9. MMarsh is out injured. One of O’Keefe and Lyon goes for Maxi. Probably 8-50 guy. However you could drop them both and bring in Agar too, we would bat down to 12!

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