31 Mar / 2017(452)…The fortress is breached-Australia have showed the path.Part I

India won the Border-Gavaskar series, but the fortress is breached. The path is shown by Australia for teams to win here in India. After 5 years a team has won a test match here in India, before this England won Kolkata game in 2012, securing a series win. However Australia failed to win the series, but they breached India’s strong hold at home.

It surprised all of us when Australia won the first Test at Pune. Before the tour started everyone assumed this Australian squad won’t stand a chance and it would be cake walk for Indians to win the series easily. This assumption was justified as host recently demolished two better equipped teams in last 6 months. First it was New Zealand, whose squad was well-balanced to compete in India, but lost both test with huge margin, as Blackcaps were unable to post 300 score in 4 inns.

Than England who in 2012 were the last team that won a test series here in India. They were off to confident start at Rajkot(1st test) almost pulling off a win….but after that, they were unable to take advantage of opportunities they got. England was well-equipped, their squad had all areas covered, batting, bowling and fielding….however they lacked one thing, a robust leader. Teams that travel overseas need to have a leader who is able to think one step ahead of his opponent and Cook never had those skills. Individually everyone contributed for England but collectively when it mattered none stood up to fight. The loss 0-4 does not justify their performance, but when you concede > 130 lead in every game then you are playing catch up – always far behind your opponent. The experience of the likes of Cook, Anderson, Broad, Root never captialised the opportunity to become a game-changer.

Than India hosted Bangladesh for a one off test, which again they won by huge margin –

Here is a flash summary of teams that recently played in India.

This graphic of crane and frog epitomises Border-Gavaskar series. It was a perfect nail bitter where both teams fought hard till the end.

 

Before arriving to India, Australia travelled to ICC’s Cricket Academy in Dubai, where for a week they practiced on various pitches that would be similar to pitches here in India. This was after their mixed performance at home – they lost 1-2 (after 0-2 down) to South Africa and defeated Pakistan 3-0.

The Border-Gavaskar series is a 4-Test contest, in which Pune and Ranchi were hosting a test match for the first time, and Bangalore wicket was re-laid.

 

From previous series it was easy to conjure how these pitches would play, and it was no surprise the first two test got over with more than a day to spare, and it turned from first over with unpredictable bounce. The Pune game(1st Test)was marked as poor by ICC, but surprisingly the Bangalore(2nd test)game was marked as good!.

 

India lost the first test and it shocked everyone – Their batsmen could not play spin and till the end they like Australia could not read the surface!.

For India it was a bitter pill to swallow, their egos were hurt, they were challenged by a team that was far lesser skilled, far less talented and very little sub-continent experience, than any other Australian team that travelled to sub-continent.  The fortress was breached here. India realised they need to grab every little opportunity they receive, and use every method to dismantle and defeat Australia. Than it became a mud wrestling combat between two teams. The challenge of nerves was at its peak. The aggression was far less for the tourist, but they never stepped down, or backed away from the fight, they were always close behind India, awaiting for them to slip.

Here is a series summary.

As you can see in below table the contest was very closely fought, and few indicators favouring Australia(centuries and five wicket haul).

 

 

                                

The pitch - The Roller was a one-hour relief for batsman

The pitch was the real protagonist – always unpredictable- It teased tested and betrayed even the home side. I am sure these kind of surface are rarely visibly in Indian domestic cricket. The pitch produced in this series never allowed any batsman from either side to dominate or control their innings. With resistance and will power few manage to stand tall and play long innings. Same time it kept bowlers interested, especially those with discipline plus variable manage to be effective consistently. Most of the time bowlers were in the game to turn the match around. A pitch anywhere in the world is defined by its bounce – viz true bounce where there is less or unevenness.


A) The Roller - The one-hour relief for batsman -
It was the first hour of the morning there was some respite for batsman. It hardly misbehaved and allowed some freedom and safety. The roller was the only device that controlled or not allowed the pitch to misbehave and had one hour effect every morning.
A roller(light or heavy) is used every day, and the effect of it stays for an hour, not allowing it to misbehave. It is the batting side that employs and they can choose the type of roller.
Although Bangalore test was an exception where 9/40(22%) fell in the first hour of every-day’s play- Pune only 3 wkts well in the first hour each day of a test that lasted only 3 days!.
Below table features stats display of first hour’s play against wickets that fell in following hours.

 

 

 

Pitch data for bowlers (fast and spin bowlers)in each game

1st Test Pune
2nd Test Bangalore
3rd TestRanchi
4th TestDharmsala

link to previous post on fortress –

(437)…A fortress that has not been breached.

link to part II

(453)…Fortress breached-Australia have showed the path-II.

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