India plumb the depths

Hosts Australia complete formalities, secure 4-0 whitewash

India plumb the depths

A Test series that went so horribly wrong for India reached its logical conclusion on Saturday at the Adelaide Oval.

united they fall: India’s cricketers wear a despondent look at the presentation ceremony in Adelaide on Saturday after being handed out a 4-0 battering in the Test series by Michael Clarke’s Australia. AFP

Australia plucked the remaining four Indian wickets within the first hour of the fifth day to complete an emphatic 298-run win, and a 4-0 whitewash, a true reflection of the poor brand of cricket India had played throughout the past one month or so, and Australia’s overwhelming superiority in all departments of the game.

Ben Hilfenhaus, man of the match Peter Siddle, Ryan Harris and Nathan Lyon combined to winkle out Ishant Sharma, Wriddhiman Saha, Zaheer Khan and Umesh Yadav to bundle out India for 201 in their second innings while chasing an improbable 500 to win. Their effort was also symbolic of the stranglehold the hosts’ bowlers maintained over Indian batsmen throughout the Australian summer.

The Aussies were relentless, never allowing the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Virender Sehwag, who captained India in the fourth Test in the place of banned Mahendra Singh Dhoni, any consistent scoring opportunity. Adelaide Oval was ballyhooed as a venue that would finally liberate the Indian batsmen from the clutches of Australian bowlers.

But all the famed Indian batting line-up managed was to barely extend the contest to the fifth day while chalking out meager scores of 272 and 201. The result also proved that age has finally caught up with the batting stalwarts. Skillful and determined still they might be, the batting troika that put bowlers to sword worldwide for more than 15 years will now have to move away for a younger generation.

It’s hard to see the trinity  – at least two of them – around when New Zealand visit India in September for Tests and one-dayers, leaving the task of leading India into future to Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli, who proved his mettle during the third Test at Perth and while scoring his maiden Test hundred at Adelaide on Thursday.

September will certainly offer a new look Indian Test team, and till then we have time to reflect on the magnificent feats of a set of brilliant batsmen, who showed the world that India could win Tests abroad.

It’s such a pity that their glorious careers had to end in such a disarray, but that will in no way take the sheen away from their achievements. So, it’s time to introspect for India, time to sit together – for cricketers and administrators alike– and ponder over their whitewashes in two consecutive away series, and chart a way to prevent the beginning of an eternal decline.

For Australia, it’s certainly time to rejoice. They have found a strong leader in Michael Clarke and brought in fresh ideas through coach Mickey Arthur to move towards a bright future. It’s quite remarkable that after a pounding at the hands of England last summer, and less than a satisfying and inconsistent outings against South Africa and New Zealand earlier this summer that Australia found a way to beat pre-series favourite India 4-0.

It’s the direct result of implementing the Argus report, and bringing in sweeping changes in selection panel and policies. But they haven’t completely cut away from the past as veterans Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey found a second wind during this series, leading the Australian batting along with Clarke.

They have several positives to take from this series apart from the return to form of Ponting and Hussey. Siddle, Hilfenhaus and Harris, their second choice bowling line-up after Mitchell Johnson, Pat Cummins and James Pattinson were ruled out due to injuries, held their own against a fabled batting line-up, and delivered consistent results.

In contrast, India have nothing much to show apart from the progress Kohli and Umesh Yadav made as Test players, and on those positives, however miniscule they might be, India should start building a new empire.

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