The Kotla Crash: Need of the Whole, Display of the Parts

A “Hole” is what Australia dug themselves on the third morning in the Delhi.

In what can only be described as a suicide mission, we saw the Aussies hand over the test match on a platter to the hosts. It was nothing less than a Kotla crash. The Australian collapse reminded me of the infamous Adelaide test match, where India was ahead of the entire game, barring that one dreaded session. In this blog, let’s look at a few insights behind this failure.

Lack of Synergy

As the title suggests, Australians never punched above a few individual performances. Usman Khawaja and Travis Head played superbly in the first and second innings, respectively; however, no significant partnership beyond their stay troubled India. That’s what Australia is lacking in this tour, the synergistic effect. Partnerships tend to do that, frustrate the opposition, and slowly shift the game in your favor.

Case in point, in India’s previous tour of Australia, throughout the 4 test match series, only one Indian batsman scored a century, but wickets never fell in clusters. Every pair added a few runs, and before you knew it, India knocked on the door in every game.

The Kotla Crash: Swept off their foot

Thanks to a strangely one-dimensional batting approach, Australians were swept off their footing. They began their second innings very positively, with Travis Head taking on Ashwin with any chance he got. Marnus Labuschagne also kept Jadeja at bay, slog-sweeping the latter on many occasions.

The problems began after the departure of Marnus Labucshagne. What followed was pandemonium, if I were to describe it kindly.

Ishan Bhattacharya
Kotla Crash

The problems began after the departure of Marnus Labucshagne, a brilliant incoming delivery that kept low and cleaned him up. What followed was pandemonium, if I were to describe it kindly. Sweep after sweep after sweep, wicket after wicket after wicket, summed up the next 15 minutes. The skipper’s approach on the very first ball summed up the entire lower-order performance of the visitors.

With the ball keeping low from day 2, attacking without getting the eyes in, was a crime. The fact that the number 11 got out of reverse sweeping, reflected the lack of a plan B, in Delhi.

Team Combination 

There’s been a big focus on the batting approach, lineup, and the number of left-handers, in the media. “The opposition has to outbowl the Indian spinners.” An ingredient for winning test matches in India. For some reason, it is missing from the Australian strategy for this tour. Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann did it in 2012. Steve O’Keefe and Nathan Lyon did it briefly in 2017 too.

As a visitor, a combination of your batters applying themselves and your bowlers outbowling the opposition culminates in the most memorable overseas test victories. It seems that the Australians are too focused on the strengths and weaknesses of the Indian camp that the simple tactic of trusting your skills and applying yourselves in a foreign land is missing in their approach. 

Yes, Australia has been hit by a few injuries, but that doesn’t justify their tactical errors in selection.

Yes, Australia has been hit by a few injuries, but that doesn’t justify their tactical errors in selection. Not playing Ashton Agar, a handy player in these conditions with both bat and ball, hurt them badly. Worst, they decided to send Ashton Agar home, which may further spoil their chances.

Dropping Travis Head for the first test and getting him back in the second didn’t make much sense. The simplest thing to practice in an injury struck dressing room is to stick to your strengths, something the Aussies need to look back at and reassess.

Waiting for BGT Classic

The series still needs to be completed, and there is much to play for in the last two games. Indore being a traditionally batsman-friendly wicket, allows Australia to stick to their strengths and regain their mojo as a batting unit. It remains to be seen what combination they field in the third test, but as fans, our wait for a BGT classic goes on. Is that the case for you too? Do write us your analysis of the Delhi test in the comments section, or you can write to us at our Twitter handle @CricBloggers.

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