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Clueless in Perth


Perth. A green tinged wicket at the WACA. A stiff breeze blowing across the ground. Clear blue skies with sun shining down. One team looking to fight from the corner it had been pushed in to. Another team looking to reclaim the pedestal it has once made its own. Stuff that Test cricket enthusiasts dreams are made of. Right?
But what we witnessed was pure nightmare. Stuff that gives ammunition to those who are gunning for the demise of this much loved format of the game. They should have let the Indian players see the pitch. It looked like they spent the last three days thinking about how to survive in these conditions. They thought, they planned, and they practiced. Perhaps too much. When it came to execution they simply failed. 
Yes, the Australians bowled well on a pitch that offered some assistance. But they were never put under any pressure to force them to try anything different. Sehwag didn’t even bother to open his account. Dravid was bowled off his pads by a quicker delivery that would have harmlessly passed by the leg stump on another day. Sachin looked in wonderful touch and the three boundaries that he hit were all picture perfect. But then he did something we have seen Ponting do quite often. He played outside the line of one that nipped back in as he tried to work it away to the leg side. Harris had him lbw for his first and only wicket. Gambhir, after initial edginess, resisted the temptation to fish outside the off-stump for 81 deliveries but finally succumbed to one leaving him. Kohli finally showed why India is pinning all hopes on him, post the golden generation, in his brief knock before he fell as he scooped one to point. Suddenly under pressure, VVS played like a deer caught in headlights, failing to cover the seam movement as he edged one to slip. Vinay Kumar, MSD, Zaheer and Ishant were all snuffed by precise and disciplined bowling.
There were no ’jaffas’ and no ‘beauties’. Australians has a plan and they stuck to it, executing it beautifully. Indians, even if they had a plan, were clueless. They failed to stick to anything, be it the wicket or the plan. Same thing happened when the Australians came out to bowl. Much maligned for his defensiveness MSD kept plenty players around the bat for the bowlers to bowl the right length around the off stump. That was the plan. The execution by his bowlers was something else altogether. They erred in line and length right from the start and Warner took them on knowing very well that even a bit of pressure would shatter their confidence. And that is exactly what happened.
Runs flowed from Warner’s bat as if this wasn’t WACA but Kotla and this wasn’t Border-Gavaskar Trophy but IPL instead. And India’s bowling plan unraveled like a roll of toilet paper. Indian bowling looked about as strong as it too. Warner ripped them to shreds. A century off 69 balls on the same pitch where Indians struggled to middle the ball. Indians managed 22 fours in their entire innings; Warner has already smashed 13 fours and 3 sixes. There are many more to come tomorrow.

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