It was business as usual for the Indian side in the second test, as they dismantled the Australians to emerge an innings and 135 run victors. The entire test was a blueprint for the way the Indians go about constructing a victory on the subcontinent against sides unfamiliar with the slow conditions. Australia elected to bat and were quickly in trouble as Bhuvneshwar Kumar made use of the early conditions to eliminate the Australian top order. From this moment on it was all about the spinners, as Harbhajan, Ashwin and Jadeja picked up the remaining scalps, bar one. Clarke’s unconventional first innings declaration sent the Indian openers in for a tricky three overs, which they survived.
After the dismissal of Sehwag, Vijay and Pujara put on 370 for the second wicket. Their secret? Patience. They played straight, put away the bad balls and when scoring became tough, cherished their wickets. Vijay’s 167 was topped only by another double century from Pujara, who has become a veritable run-machine. All out for 503, with a lead of 267, it was another Ravi Ashwin masterclass five-for that put the game to bed. Australia were hopeless against his flight and guile on a traditionally dusty track, with extremely poor shot selection. It’s difficult to take many negatives from the Indian performance but the selectors - prone to axing established members of the squad of late - have reached the end of their tether with Virender Sehwag, who has been overlooked for the remainder of the series. Without a replacement named, it seems Shikhar Dhawan will slot into the opening batsman role. With a tour of South Africa looming, if Sehwag does not manage to regain his position in the team, it will mean a baptism of fire for the inexperienced Dhawan.
It gets worse. Matthew Wade is carrying an ankle injury and Brad Haddin is being made to fly out as cover. After the widespread punishment, if Wade fails to recover, Australia are left with twelve players to choose from. With the outside prospect of pace on offer in Mohali, Australia now are left with only two frontline quicks. It seems unlikely Dhoni will allow any semblance of pace and bounce to factor into the groundsman’s plans, but Australia can’t seem to produce a spinner able to utilise the turning wickets to his advantage. It’s a sorry state of affairs for Australian cricket right now, with tension and ego exacerbating the already tricky prospect of navigating the side through a transitional phase.
BEST: Top Indian 1st Innings Batsman, Murali Vijay 9/2
It’s tough to bet against Pujara at this point in time, but with both batsmen in great form and Vijay offering the better price, I’ve settled on the Indian opener. He’ll be in a new partnership with Dhawan and will be forced to play the role of the mentor to the debutant. Expect big things from Vijay.
VERDICT: India 5/4
On home turf, the Indians are simply too strong for this Australian side. The plan to move Michael Clarke up the order may provide some stability as he is the only player who looks at all comfortable out in the middle, but no one else seems able to counteract the Indian spinners. It will take a gigantic effort as well as a defiance of the nature of Australian cricketers to win this one. The Australian batsmen just don’t have the natural patience or style to be successful here.