Sunday 29 January 2012


Letting the chances go by, suffering and finally humiliation; Summing the theme of the first 3 Tests Team India came into the 4th Test having a long gap and one wonders if there could have been a 3-day match organized just to keep the cricket flowing instead of having nets alone. Did we overlook this gap when the schedule was drawn up?

Reality as it stood in Adelaide; with one test to go there was nothing much to lose since the Border-Gavaskar trophy was already taken. Winning the dead rubber would only salvage some pride but not repair the dents.

M.S Dhoni who was banned for this Test for over-rate issues gets time to plan mentally for the T-20 and the ODI series while Sehwag, the stand-by captain had hopes of continuing his good record as captain. Prior to this match, Adelaide has been dear and kind to the Indian team in the recent past, having won in 2003/04 season and dominant for most parts in 2007/08 season. This time the scene was different and any result has no bearing to the morale of the team, as the damage had already been done. Any positives out of this test will be an indicator as to what where the team is headed or if at all there is light at the end of this dark tunnel.

Michael Clarke winning the toss on a good batting track had every intention of keeping Indians on the field for long; not surprisingly he opted to bat. Ashwin was back in the team replacing for Vinay Kumar and Wriddhiman Saha would keep for the first time in Tests after having made his debut earlier in 2010 as a batsman. Did India miss a trick by not opting Ojha instead of a third seamer?
Indians had a good start as Australians found themselves in a situation like the previous Tests;  losing the top order and only to have two of their in-form batsman making the rescue act. It was time for the sequel of ‘Pup and the Punter Show’ – and the show went on much to the frustration of Indian fans and delight to all the Australians. Runs flowed continuously for 95 overs, spanning close to 400 minutes which yielding 386 runs in the process. For people who love records, this partnership was for statistical delight – the partnership was the highest for India-Australia Tests for any wicket. The selectors must be patting themselves for having kept Ponting in the team, as it weren’t to his revival Australians would have struggled to post those big totals which has been the difference between the two teams in the entire series.

Captaincy must be a great thing; ask Clarke and he will vouch for it as he is in the best form of his life. Not sure if it has to do with lack of penetration by Indian bowlers or really good quality batting. From what I have seen from the series, it was clearly evident Indian bowling lacked penetration at crucial junctures and intensity was missing when partnerships were built. Barring Melbourne Test, India never looked like picking 20 wickets and the failure of batting didn’t help the bowlers either as Clarke went on to make another double hundred and thereby became the first captain to hit a triple and double hundred in the same series.

It isn’t a pleasing sight when you are a fan and even the most cynical Indian fan would not have anticipated the extent the Australians have been drubbing the bowling attack in this series. It has been just three innings and those three innings have seriously dented the confidence of the bowling attack; This in spite of having the luxury of having injury free bowlers, unlike in England. The misery finally ended with Ryan Harris hitting a six off Ashwin and Clarke declared the innings  after his team posted 604 runs in little over five sessions of play.

What do you expect from the Indian batting this around? All I knew for a fact that, if Australia were to win the Test, Indians have to be dismissed twice. With 21 overs left on the second day and three more days, I hoped one brave act from our line-up. Sehwag blazed away scoring boundaries before getting out to Siddle. Not to mention, India did manage to get their highest opening partnership of the series, a meager 26 runs. Enter Rahul Dravid, a run later the brick was disturbed yet again. I am no expert talking about his technique and I shall only say, he is a much better player than this. Not often I have got this feeling, but in this series, I felt Dravid looked like getting out on most occasions whenever he came out to bat. I was speechless when he was beaten and was left with no explanation as the replays kept showing him getting bowled.  The feeling only got worse when the broadcaster displayed all his previous dismissals in the series.  Another day, I was left with wondering – Will the third day be the day?

On the third morning, barely the Republic parade had started; Indian batting line-up had a parade of their own losing five wickets for just over an hundred on board. A republic day hundred was what the whole of India hoped for, but it didn’t happen from the bat of Sachin. Gambhir and Laxman soon left and it seemed even a good batting track wouldn’t be of much assistance to the mental state of the Indian team. Will be there another low score? and by this time I was used to getting up early and watching India perform badly with the bat.

Kohli and Saha, a fresh pair was a pleasant sight to watch. For the first time, there was some intent and purpose in the way they batted. The pair went on to add 114 runs before an error of judgment from Saha at the stroke of tea; almost went through a session wicket less. Almost!!
With wickets  falling at the other end there were some anxious moments whether or not Kohli would score India’s first century of the tour. He got there finally and erupted like a wounded gladiator having just won a hard fought battle. His hundred was redemption of sorts, a personal victory more than anything else. His maiden hundred will be the highlight of the tour and a glimmer of hope for the batting line-up that someone stood up and made it big while for many the pride was lost in their final playing days.

It wasn’t a green top wicket - the batting order was disturbed by sheer discipline and Indians were lost all the wickets for 272. Clarke didn’t impose the follow-on; with the pitch still good to bat coupled with the heat, it wasn’t such a bad idea to give the strike bowlers some rest for a session or two before going all out on the Indian line-up.

It will be the final showdown in Australia for many of the batsmen and they will have no option but to save the match, avoid another white wash in less than six months or wilt away in the heat of the battle. But they had to wait as Australians opted to bat for some time.
Bowlers again stuck to their task and picked up the first three wickets easily. Barring the Perth massacre, the Australian top-order has rarely troubled the Indians. In quest for quick runs, the resurgent Aussies went after the bowling with Ponting having another good hit and showed no signs of being under pressure. Clarke declaring with a lead of 500 and with little over five sessions to bat out, the Indian batting was merely a formality as one expected nothing but a miracle to avoid the whitewash.

Looking at the batting scores posted in the series, even the highly regarded optimists wouldn’t have bet on India winning this Test. Logic!!! But cricket in the past has defied logic and has shown miracles don’t just happen on ice. I hoped for one last glory with track being flat. Frankly the finale started on a low note with Gambhir getting out cheaply as Sehwag opened up his attacking instincts with boundaries coming at ease. It was the first innings at Melbourne did Sehwag last play such a knock and when Lyon tried to strangle him for runs, the stand-by captain could not resist the temptation for too long and mistimed a full toss to Ricky Ponting.

Sachin Tendulkar in what seems like his final outing in Australia came to the crease with no expectations whatsoever. Or was that an exaggeration from my side? The 100th hundred talks had taken a back seat ever since India’s surrender at Perth. But expectations are like nails, they keep growing and can only be cut, trimmed from time to time but can never eliminate it. His hundred would have appeased few on the ground who had a tough time supporting the Indian team. Indians were the favourites coming into this series and never played like the ones with the top tag. The procession soon followed first with Dravid getting out to a wide delivery and then Sachin trying to defend Lyon’s ball gave a easy catch to short leg. Irrespective of what had happened to the little master, he was given a standing ovation send off for the memories of 20 years. As he walked back to the pavilion having had the worst Australian series individually, he must have wondered how life seems like a full circle. India had lost 4-0 when he had first toured Australia and now in what seems like his last tour, India were in the brink of losing 4-0. He has seen much better days and who knows he might make another trip to Australia, if form and body holds up.

VVS Laxman and Kohli put on some resistance before Lyon managed to induce a false stroke from Laxman and was out caught at short mid-wicket. Surely, I saw Laxman to have played his last innings in Australia. His career took a notice when he made that hundred 12 years ago at Sydney. It feels a curtain has been drawn and he has all the time to decide in the coming months as to where his career and life was headed.

With few overs to go in the day, Ishant Sharma walked in as a night watchman. The decision to protect the night watchman proved costly for Kohli as he was short of the crease when he tried to take a tricky single. With four wickets and a day to go, the question was how long the tail resistance would last?

The final four wickets could add only 35 runs and India had their second whitewash in as many away series. Not only they plummeted to number three in the Test rankings, it was a hard fact to believe that they are still ahead of Australia in the ICC Official rankings, although they are just ahead on mere technical basis. Later in the day with England losing to Pakistan on a spin-friendly track, I asked myself as to who really is Numero Uno at the moment?  It would take few more series and years to find a team which is suited to play in all conditions.

A few of the players likes of Dravid and Laxman would not be there for the ODI series, but the bulk of the squad will be boosted by few fresh minded ones who have come to Australia for the two T20 matches and a tri-series with Sri Lanka as the third team. The outlook will be different as India would like to repeat the heroics of 2008 when they won the tri-series. Will they perform as expected from World Champions ? or Would the white wash have an impact on the psyche going into the shorter versions of the game?  Time will tell 

Sunday 15 January 2012


The wait was over and I was ecstatic to have woken up 15 minutes prior to the match and to see Indians batting first. “What better way to start a morning?” – I thought as I went to wash my face. It was 15 minutes past five and my mind went ahead of imagining India bat for the next two days and how I could sit at home on two non-working days just to watch the Indian batting line-up piling up the runs. Then the Buddha moment hit me – “Think only on the present and not ahead”. 

Ambling through the first few overs of the Test match Indians lost Sehwag and Dravid while Gambhir at the other end had decided he was not going to get out easily.  He was kept company by Tendulkar who hit three of the best drives one can see – one straight, an on-drive and to demonstrate his prowess on the off-side a cover drive which silenced all the demons people had to say about the pitch prior to the match. Both teams having opted for an all pace attack must have thought, have we made a right decision? It didn’t look like when Tendulkar was at the crease. Ryan Harris brought back after a fiery first spell took the prized wicket just when the master looked good for a big knock. Gambhir soon followed after having resisted the temptation outside the off-stump,  finally succumbed and nicked one to the keeper. Well, it isn’t the ideal start as India went into lunch on the first day after having inserted into bat by Michael Clarke.

The talk prior to the match was about giving youngsters a chance and the news of Rohit Sharma replacing VVS did the rounds. Well, Rohit will have to wait for his opportunity as Laxman retained his place and now had the responsibility to steer India to a decent total. He had Virat Kohli by his side and both looked good resurrecting the innings with 68 runs being added to their partnership. Kohli made his first major error of the day when he misread the length and ballooned his drive to Warner at deep point. And soon Laxman went for 31 following the dismissal of Kohli who made an impressive 44. With six wickets down, out came Ranganatha Vinay Kumar for the first time donning the Indian whites and thus became the latest entrant to the Test team. His brief stay at the crease yielded 5 runs and nine runs later Indians found themselves to be dismissed for 161.

At this point I felt embarrassed and I quite didn’t know how to react and I had a strong reason for this. It wasn’t just the collapse that made me feel exasperated but the manner in which the batting collapses have been taking place on the foreign soil. I cannot recall during my lifetime such a dismal performance overseas and the last time India lost consecutive six matches abroad, my mom was just nine years old. Now seriously there is an issue and the persistent problems over the past six months can’t be ignored or overlooked. With peanuts on the board to defend, bowlers had another shock in the manner David Warner went about his innings. He dominated right from the start and by the time the day ended he had a century to his name, Australia were 12 runs behind and having 10 wickets intact and to make matters worse only 23 overs were bowled. Can this get more worse? To give credit, where its due it reminded how Sehwag went about his innings and Warner, being Sehwag’s team mate at Delhi Daredevils showed what he is capable of. A product of T20, Warner showed it to the world 20-20 after all isn’t such a bad thing to cricket.

A new day comes with a new beginning never mind the scars that Indians carried coming into the second day. With pitch still assisting the bowlers, there was every possibility Indians could have turned it around. Not until a double century stand and gritty 65 by Ed Cowan, bowlers managed to take the first wicket. Umesh Yadav, easily the find of the series from India’s perspective took three quick wickets, Indians were in with a chance for a comeback. Dhoni persisted with Zaheer, Ishant and Yadav and the trio ensured Australians didn’t repeat their batting heroics of Sydney. At the stroke of tea,  Aussies were bowled out for 369 with Yadav claiming his first five wicket haul and Vinay Kumar his first scalp in Tests.

The final session of the second day, Indians did well to restrict the lead to 208 runs considering the way Warner destroyed the bowling on his way to a splendid 180. Having got the best start of this series, Gambhir got out to a bouncer from Starc while scoreboard was just 24. Sehwag got a peach from Siddle and that had top two run-getters in the world at the crease. From the looks of it, it wasn’t easy and it was only matter of time where another wicket would fall; that moment occurred on the 17th over when Starc was brought back after previously having bowled just an over, had Tendulkar plumb in front and Indians were three down.

The 10 year entertaining history of India-Australia Tests were started by the pair of Laxman and Dravid. It was their partnership  in Kolkata in 2001 that changed the course of the future bi-lateral series between the two cricket loving countries.  They had a huge task in hand. As the adage goes, “History repeats” – Will it be again them as they did in Kolkata, Adelaide etc?
For the sake of pride if not anything, India needed this pair to defend, cut the deficit and ensure the team reach a position from where they could have challenged for a win and come back into the series. My mind went too far ahead twice in as much days and before I could calm myself back to the reality, I saw Laxman edging to third slip Marsh and the man, I mean ‘The Man, the troubleshooter, the specialist’ was gone. Out for a duck, walking back to the pavilion in a manner as I have never seen him do. Did he just play his last stroke in international cricket?

It was just too much to take and that’s when the other side of reality hit me. If suffering is what makes India take strong steps ahead (referring to 2007 loss at the World Cup, 3-0 loss to Australia in 1999/2000 and followed by 2-0 loss at home to South Africa in 2000) so be it. Let this team suffer for the future’s sake as somewhere down the line we have to think about improving even while being on a winning streak. We love to live in the history and I am no different but somewhere the fascination shouldn’t overlook the present reality, that if not given a serious thought will hamper future’s growth.
With such thoughts I went to bed and no matter what the result (Was I still hoping for India’s victory??). A gritty fight by Kohli and Dravid raised the hopes of a fight back and the dreams were washed away when Dravid and Dhoni got out quickly. It was a matter of time and would have just been a consolation if Indians managed to make Australia bat again. With 43 runs behind and four wickets in hand it looked possible going into lunch. Post-lunch all it took the Oz bowlers was 20 balls to dismiss India for 171 and hand them a second consecutive innings defeat. Kohli the lone warrior among the batters managed to score more than 100 runs (both innings) in this Test.

How many times in the past two away series we hoped India would show their magic with the bat? The number goes to 14 at the end of this Test. The teams are allowed for missing out on runs and big scores occasionally; what sort of a Tests is it, if we do not have few collapses once in a while to spice up the match? But there were one too many in the past six months and the Perth test to me was the nadir of this current Indian batting line-up. Reality seriously bites and I am just a humble cricket fan.
The vision of taking the top spot was a long process which started when Ganguly was made the captain and had John Wright as India’s first foreign coach. It took nine years to achieve the feat. After taking the top spot, BCCI did their best to accommodate as many tours as possible with top teams to retain the #1 spot in the past two years, removed the DRS for Indian tests at the behest of some senior players and provided all the facilities possible for the players to win matches. Somewhere things have gone wrong and it looked all the more clear since the World Cup triumph. Class is permanent and this team has many class players and the solution isn’t just about dropping seniors and replacing them with juniors, it is beyond it. It is about a process.

Moving forward, a vision must be put in place if Indians have any hope of reclaiming the top spot. A phase-out plan for seniors, injection of youth, horses for courses and maintenance of workloads  of cricketers. This isn’t a new territory, Indian ODI team went through the transition phase brilliantly post the early World cup exit in 2007; and with a well structured foresight Test cricket will also be in good shape. As Indian players have plenty of time till the next Test to introspect,  I am getting reminded of few lines from the song ‘Measure of a Man’ sung by Elton John -

“There comes a time when castles fall
And all that's left is shifting in the sand
You're out of time, you're out of place
Look at your face
That's the measure of a man

You've come full circle, now you're home
Without the gold, without the chrome
And this is where you've always been
You had to lose so you could win
And rise above your troubles while you can
Now you can love, now you can lose
Now you can choose
That's the measure of a man”

The fourth Test at Adelaide starts in nine days and with series 3-0 down, I hope some pride can be restored by winning the Test (oh really?). Ok, at least,  Can we not try avoiding the second white wash in as many away tours?

Tuesday 10 January 2012


Last time when Indians arrived in Perth the score line read 0-2 to Australia and this time it is no different; at least with respect to the score line. Apart from 2-0 deficit there aren’t any similar situations as last time India lost the Sydney match which bolstered India’s purpose of the whole tour. It galvanized the entire team and the result – more determined performance which resulted in winning the Test match in a venue, considered alien to the sub-continent teams.

Twenty years ago Perth Test match showcased the world about a 18 year old teenager who had the temerity to take on the big boys of Aussie bowling attack. He isn’t the teenager anymore but comes to this week’s Test match being one of the game’s greatest and more importantly the in-form batsman in the present touring squad. Expectations have only multiplied in the last twenty years and the talk of the town is surrounding his century and nothing else.  For a change how about we focus all the attention towards India and their chances of winning the Test match?

Just to give a historical perspective – The ground at Perth is named after the owners - Western Australia Cricket Association (WACA). The venue known for its intense heat is cooled by the afternoon breeze sweeping along the Swan River,  famously known as the ‘The Freemantle Doctor’.  Though the stadium was built in the late 19th century, international cricket was never scheduled for a good 80 years owing to transportation problems. Since this is located far end from the cricketing hub, it needed an airport and scheduled flights to Perth to make it accessible for international cricket. It finally happened in the year 1970 when Australia took on England. The highlight of the first match - Sensational arrival of Greg Chappell into the international arena by scoring a century on debut.
Perth had to wait for another four years as the second match was played in 1974; since then the Test matches at W.A.C.A  has been a regular feature in the Australian test match calendar.

Knowing as the fast bowler’s paradise – The ground at W.A.C.A has been traditionally known as a surface that assists fast bowling and good stroke play. Termed the ‘fastest track’ in the world, there has been many intriguing contests with bat and ball over the last 38 test matches it has hosted.

India first played at this ground in 1977 against an Australian side that was weakened owing to disputes,  many first choice players had with the Australian cricket board over Kerry Packer issue. Having batted well in both the innings with centuries to Sunil Gavaskar and Mohinder Amarnath in the second innings, Australia won the Test match chasing 342 runs by two wickets. India had a great chance of recording their first victory on Australian soil at Perth but the bowlers could not penetrate at crucial junctures. However India won the next two matches at Melbourne and Sydney to make it 2-2 before losing the decider at Adelaide.

Two trips to Australia were made one each in 1980/81 and 1985/86 which saw the performance of the Indian team being very solid drawing the series each time, that also included the famous Melbourne Test win. None of the test series featured Perth as the venue and it was not until 1991/92 season Perth was featured again and also a five test match series.

In 1992, with few weeks to go for the World Cup Indians came to Perth to play the final Test. They were trailing 3-0 and with the fast bowlers Australia had in their squad, 4-0 was a very probable result. Sachin Tendulkar made the headlines in the world cricketing circles with a resounding 114 which featured 16 boundaries and bulk of them coming from square of the wicket. Apart from this, this Test also had a moment of celebration, a consolatory one for Kapil Dev who became the 2nd bowler at that time to take 400 wickets when he trapped Mark Taylor in front of the wickets. Going into the last day, India had all their wickets in tact; though victory was too far to think of (442 runs) a fight was expected and things were on track for the fight back with Indian openers putting up their best partnership of the series (82). It is the habit of losing wickets in a heap that hampered India’s progress as the Aussie quicks spearheaded by Mike Whitney and the debutant Paul Reiffel ended India’s resistance two hours after the fall of first wicket. Though India displayed some individual brilliance at different occasions in that series,  none were consistent enough to enforce a respectable draw or a victory.

In the next two series in Australia, Perth was given a miss and it was only in the January of 2008 one got to see a Test match between these two nations return to this ground. The build-up to the Test match was enormous with India having threatened to boycott from the series if the umpires Steve Bucknor wasn’t replaced for the Test match.  Harbhajan Singh was not playing and there was a comeback of sorts for Virender Sehwag and Irfan Pathan.  Both made a impact on this Test with quick runs coming at the top and Pathan finding the swing and discipline to take wickets at regular intervals. Pathan was the Man of the Match for a performance which made India the first Asian team to win a Test match at Perth. The match had other highlights - Ishant Sharma’s spell on the 4th day to Ricky Ponting is remembered till date, Anil Kumble taking his 600th Test wicket and more importantly India winning the Test match and thereby stalling the hopes of Ponting taking the 17th Test victory in a row. Though India could not win the next Test match and thereby level the series the spirit was well admired even by the Australian public and ex-cricketers.

January 2012 - The attention shifts to M.S Dhoni and his troops with comparisons being drawn from the team’s performance in 2008. Dhoni was the vice-captain back then which included most of the current players. Will he draw some inspiration from that victory? Will he show aggression that is required in such situations in a place like Australia?

Next week, things will become clear regarding the bounce back ability of this current Indian team, which not so long ago was rated as the number one Test team in the world. 

Friday 6 January 2012


Oh Sydney and there you are Sydney – The first match of a fresh year is always an exciting prospect for a cricket viewer across the world. The current match Australia vs. India marks the 100th Test at this historic venue. A lot has been written about Tendulkar scoring his landmark 100 hundreds on this memorable occasion. He had stats to back it up from his previous four outings here and the form he displayed in the first Test at Melbourne.

Then there is VVS another veteran who is among the few non-Australian batsmen in the world to have made three consecutive hundreds at the SCG. In his 4th appearance stage was set to make it four in a row. But there are greater problems for Team India in general at the start of this test and at the end of this test, Team India move ahead with only problems on its shoulders.

With such reputation of Indian line-up and the fading memories of Melbourne Test match Indians started their innings and by the time I was able to finish my daily chores I saw Australian openers coming on to bat. Well it wasn’t such a dramatic collapse but getting bowled out for 191 on the opening day isn’t going to win matches. Even if miracles were due to happen one cannot hide the ailing mistakes Indians making consistently off-late and most notably since the England series.

Barring M.S Dhoni who struggled his way to top score the innings none looked comfortable at the crease expect for a brief moment when Sachin hammered eight boundaries before dragging a Pattison’s delivery back on to the stumps. Craig Mc Dermott was at his peak of bowling prowess when Tendulkar first toured Australia in 1991/92 season and he is now the bowling coach that has brought the discipline in the bowling attack of the Aussies. His influence was shown by the performance of James Pattison in tandem with work horse Peter Siddle and the calm rejuvenated Ben Hilfenhaus.

Zaheer Khan led the attack and took three quick wickets. The captain, the home boy Michael Clarke came with clear intentions and attacked from the start and put Aussies within reach of India’s target at the end of Day 1. As I went to bed, I had a premonition about Ponting scoring a hundred. His last hundred came when I watched the game in Lausanne on a cold morning making a wonderful double hundred against Pakistan at his home ground in Hobart. That was back in January of 2010 and since then he has been on a slip with occasional brilliance but no hundreds to show. He must have been relieved to have finally got a big score under his belt.

Ponting’s case is an interesting one – Australia since the appointment of Allan Border has had a consistent pattern unlike other cricketing nations in appointing their captain and the theory of passing the baton. Border retired both as captain and batsman when he passed over the captaincy reins to Mark Taylor, same happened when Steve Waugh became the captain and also when Ricky Ponting took over from Waugh. When it was Clarke’s time it was an interesting scenario to have an ex-captain on the side. Well change is the name of the game, and for two decades Australia never faced any issues in replacing an out-going captain and his role as a batsman. This time it was Ponting, Australia’s most successful batsman and second to Don Bradman in terms of greatness; surely he wasn’t going to be treated the same way as his former captains had been before, especially when the team has found itself to be in rebuilding phase.

With injuries and lack of quality batsmen at the top, selectors (and that includes Clarke in the panel) needed Ponting as a mentor in the team. Post captaincy, his score of 50’s indicated the big score was just round the corner and after his two scores of 50 plus in Melbourne it was ominous his hundred would come sooner than Tendulkar’s much awaited century and so it did.

Now to Sydney’s home boy Michael Clarke, known as ‘Pup’ – He isn’t the pup anymore, has matured at least in batting, honing the skills of a fighter and seems to be enjoying the captaincy and has managed to score hundreds in all of the four series he has captained so far. He now has a maiden double hundred which eventually turned out to be an unbeaten triple hundred. He had all the time and looked good to go after Bradman’s record of 334, Hayden’s 380 and challenge the top summit of Lara’s 400. Not sure exactly the reason behind the declaration, nevertheless a strong statement was made that he was after victories and not individual records. For all the problems he had with public on his image unlike the previous Australian captains, not going for the record and making the statement of team victory over individual should do a world of good in the coming days.

Michael Hussey another aging batsman was under fire but has come good since the second innings at Melbourne. Mr. Cricket surely could not have asked for a better time as he brought up his hundred, a much needed one considering the fact he was almost in the brink of being dropped at the start of the series. The declaration came when Hussey reached 150 with Australia having amassed a mammoth 659 runs. 

Sydney Test - fourth season in a row has become a landmark Test for the awareness of breast cancer in memory of Jane McGrath and third day of the Test one gets to see the whole stadium dressed in pink in some form or the other. The idea behind is the gentle giant fast bowling legend from New South Wales Glen McGrath,  who in memory of his wife had set up the foundation that works on awareness and providing facilities to cancer affected people.

With long road to travel India started their second innings with a session and a half left on day 3 - Gautam Gambhir for the first time in the series looked positive and went about his usual business that got him those big scores in a period of one year in the season of 2009/10. His footwork was much better from the looks of it and importantly he looked for runs. Since the hard fought fifties in South Africa early last year he had nothing much to show and on the third afternoon he applied himself and remained unbeaten to see yet another day in the company of Tendulkar.

Indians were stretched to their limits on the second day and half of third day. Trailing 468 runs with little over two days to go isn’t going to be an easy task. This is mother of all challenges to cut the deficit and then see if they can look for a win or draw the match. They have done this before in Napier two seasons ago; Gambhir then batted for long sessions to save the Test match against more bowling friendly conditions than the one in Sydney. While this Indian team remains the same as the one that played the Napier Test; situation and the opposition remains different as Sun Tzu from Art of War points out – “As water has no constant form, there are in war no constant conditions”.

On the fourth day Gambhir could not go on and make a big score and got out at 83. In eight overs between over 78 and 86 it seemed ghosts of the past were coming back - That 90's show of team collapse was triggered once Tendulkar's wicket was taken by the opposition. Forget the milestone (these days that is all Tendulkar has been associated with) India had to show some fight and were expected to bat out the day. For a moment Laxman and Sachin showed it with their 100-run partnership. Playing for the new ball change (due in two overs) Tendulkar got defensive for few minutes and in that brief moment of time his bat took the outer edge off Clarke's left arm spin and had him caught at slip. He did not get his 100th hundred but the situation demanded much more than that. The landmark of such proportions shouldn’t come in the way of masking Indian’s defeat or for that matter the way Clarke dominated the Test match with his triple hundred.

Virat Kohli fresh from his finger controversy must realise there are different ways to vent one's frustration; better if he concentrates on the bat than on the crowd. Rohit Sharma is in the queue and looks certainly to make the XI for the next Test match. The other nemesis of Australia over the last decade VVS, played fluently for his 66 till he got a peach from Hilfenhaus.  And soon M S Dhoni came and went in a flash.

The fireworks of Zaheer Khan and dodgy resistance by Ashwin only delayed the victory parade for the Aussies and also ensured India getting past 300 only for the second time in the last six away Tests. India finally folded up at 400 and in terms of performance it was certainly much better considering they batted for more than 100 overs in an innings.

These things happen in Test cricket and sadly in the last six away Tests this is becoming a trend. Past is only an indicator of a pattern and something one can learn and do nothing about it to alter the gone by results. It is what you do in the present moment that will determine the future.

 All good things must come to an end and so it did and was evident during the 4-0 loss to England last year, but the manner in which it has come has been disappointing. The result was a killer blow for a side that started to look sharper with each series last decade outside the sub-continent. Winning tests and more often the series was turning out to be a good habit and now Team India is sliding, steadily with each test match that has been played on the foreign soil.  Is it time to press the panic button, not quite. Time to re-think the strategies – Yes

 One need not look beyond 2008 when Indians after an incident packed Sydney Test came back strongly at Perth by winning the Test and showed a great deal of character at Adelaide in the fourth Test. Indians were not favorites then and now it seems they haven’t quite won a real series with the favorites tag. Was the controversy of Monkey-Gate scandal behind such a motivation for the turnaround in the 2008 series? It remains to be seen and it will be known over the course of next two tests at Perth and Adelaide.