Cricket: Australia Crush India at Melbourne! Away Losses Continue!

Article first published as Cricket-Team India Mauled By Australia! on Technorati.

Australia defeated India by 122 runs in the Boxing Day First Test at Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) today in India’s tour of Australia, 2011-12. The victory margin for Australia on the fourth day did not quite reflect the dramatic ups and downs of the match though.

This was India’s fifth consecutive test loss abroad after the 4-0 drubbing by England earlier. At MCG too India’s dismal record did not go any better with just two wins in all time cricket history. But prior to the start of the cricket series factors were predominantly in India’s favor.

India came to Australia after their thumping win over West Indies in both test and one-day formats and they had regrouped well with all the batting and bowling stalwarts coming back into the team except Yuvraj Singh who was getting fit to join the team perhaps for the one-day series. In contrast, Australia had been a little nervous with quite a few new faces particularly in the bowling department. Their recent record of losses against South Africa and New Zealand did not help much either. There was also a question mark over the inclusion of the old war horses—Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey. Besides, India won the last two test series against Australia played in India and Australia no longer enjoyed its monopoly status in world cricket. The circumstances and the built-up momentum gave India a great opportunity to register the first ever test series win against Australia in Australia.

India had their chances too. Australia batted first winning the toss and was reduced to 214 for 6 at one stage. Thanks to India’s persistent problems in removing tail-enders the hosts finally achieved a fighting total of 333 with Ponting silencing his critics by scoring a masterful 62. India replied well and was sitting pretty at 214 for 2 when at the closing minutes of the second day Sachin Tendulkar got out at 73 putting paid to hopes for his 100th hundred and also creating the beginnings of a looming disaster.

On the third day India lost 7 wickets for just 68 runs—getting all out for 282 and conceding a crucial lead of 51 runs to Australia. Indian bowlers brought the team back into contention reducing the hosts to a scary 26 for 4 at one stage. Then again, the old hand Ponting crafted a brilliant partnership with Hussey and took their team to relative safety. At the end of the third day the game was still evenly poised with the hosts at 179 for 8 and an overall lead of 230 runs.

India’s problem with tail-enders surfaced again on the fourth morning conceding 61 runs making the final target of 292 runs for win an imposing one considering the last innings chases at MCG. The famed Indian batting order collapsed in a most dismal manner and was bowled out for 169 runs giving Australia the victory margin of 122 runs. One writer pointed out that the victory margin exactly equaled the runs scored by Ponting in the test.

Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni took shelter in the Indian jinx of never doing well in the starter of any series though he attributed the defeat to total batting failure. In fact, except for three half centuries by Sehwag, Dravid and Tendulkar there was absolutely nothing to mention of the Indian batting effort. Aussie skipper Michael Clark talked jubilantly of the positives gained from the match particular for his new bowlers.

An opportunity lost. And lots of worries for Dhoni. Apart from class batsmen failing Dhoni's string of failures with the bat continue too and his captaincy decisions are often found half cooked.

Team India must prepare well now to deliver in the remaining tests of the series.


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