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Test series isnít a sightseeing trip
India lose second Test by an innings and 68 runs;
Australia lead 2-0

The one bright spot in Indiaís loss to Australia at Sydney is that India got to no less than 400 runs. This is only the second time in some 20 innings overseas that India has reached 400, so despite the loss there is something to celebrate.

Seriously though, the flaws in the batting are getting more and more exposed and with the next Test at Perth, they may be such that it cannot be ignored any longer. Being brought up on pitches with low bounce means batsmen are hardly tested above the waist.

R Ashwin raises his bat to celebrate his half-century in Sydney on Friday.
R Ashwin raises his bat to celebrate his half-century in Sydney on Friday. ó AFP

It is easier for those brought up on high bounce pitches to make the adjustment, from staying on top of the ball, to getting lower to play it on the sub-continent.

Getting on to the front foot is a natural movement for batsmen. On the other hand, going from slow, low-bounce pitches to harder bouncier ones means the front foot movement has to be curtailed unless the ball is right up to the bat.

What a batsman has to do is to stay still as much as possible and play even later still. The hand movements, which are easier going on the front foot, are that much harder when the ball is between the waist and the shoulders. It can be helped if batsmen can move their back foot as deep in the crease as possible. This is a movement that happens only when the ball is to be cut on the slow pitches and so not too many are used to it.

On the contrary, there is such a natural movement forward that it is hard to shift the balance on the back foot. Ashwin showed how it can be done, by playing the ball late and also by playing besides the line of the ball rather than behind the line which is where short statured batsmen flounder.

India has plenty of homework to do, but unfortunately donít have the spare time to do it. It would have been great if there had been a two-day practice game arranged in Perth in the five-day gap before the Test, at what is supposed to be the bounciest and fastest pitch in Australia. That of course had to be done before the tour began and that should have been the responsibility of the senior players who have been to Australia before and the coach to ask the BCCI to arrange that extra game.

There is a similar gap between the Perth Test and the Adelaide Test and even here there is no game slotted. The question is, have the players gone there for holidays or have they gone to play competitive cricket and if the answer is the latter then why are there so many off days for players supposed to be the epitome of fitness? Yes, modern day tours are compressed because every Test-playing country has a packed schedule, but where there are blank days those need to be utilised.

It will be interesting to see if the team practices on the Sydney pitch on the fifth day, now that the Test is over. They lost badly in Melbourne in four days, but did they practice on that fifth day which became an off day? No they didnít.

If they had won the game it was understandable, but when they had lost, and lost badly at that, they should have been working on their weaknesses. What is the point taking 17 members on the tour and having the reserves getting rusty with no competitive cricket?

Those six players who donít play the Test, plus the six or seven others who have failed to perform, should be out practicing, for thatís what they are on the tour for and not to take in the sights.

Unfortunately when you allow the players to choose the coach, then the coach is going to make sure he doesnít upset them and ask them for extra practice sessions.

Melbourne's gone and so also Sydney. Be prepared for the same in Perth. ó PMG

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