The Real Reason for India’s Batting Collapse in the Adelaide Test
On 19 December, the pink ball Test in Adelaide finished dramatically within two and a half days after an unexpected collapse by India’s batsmen in the third morning in the face of some penetrative bowling by Australian fast bowlers, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood. Chasing a target of 90 to win in the 4th innings, Australia won the Test by two wickets to go 1-0 up in the four-Test series.
India Bowled Out for the Lowest Test Score of 36
Nobody must have been prepared for the abject collapse of the Indian innings in the morning of day three. After Cummins dismissed nightwatchman Bumrah in the second over of the morning, there was a virtual procession of India’s batsmen returning to the pavilion. And when number 11 batsman Md Shami retired hurt after being struck on the hand by a Cummins bouncer, India were bowled out for 36, their lowest Test score. With no batsman reaching double figures, the Indian innings read like a telephone number: 49204084041.
Kohli Says Lack of Intent to Blame
The inexplicable collapse led to credulous reactions. Speaking during the post-match presentation, Virat Kohli attributed the collapse to a combination of good bowling and a lack of intent on the batsmen’s part.
Winning the toss, Virat elected to bat on what seemed to be a hard surface that would help batting. India made slow progress in difficult conditions after they had lost their openers cheaply. With the Indian scorecard reading 32 for 2, Pujara and Kohli got together in a 68-run stand before Pujara got out for a 160-ball innings of 43. Just when India appeared to be progressing sedately towards a 400-plus score, Kohli was run out after a bizarre mix-up with Rahane. From a comfortable 187 for 2, India slid to 233 for 6 by the end of the day. After losing their remaining 4 wickets for the addition of only 11 runs, India hit back by bowling out Australia for 191. Although India lost the wicket of Prithvi Shaw, at 9 for one wicket, they were 62 runs ahead with nine wickets in hand at the end of day two of the Test. Australia must have contemplated the prospect of chasing a daunting target in the fourth innings on a wicket that could deteriorate as the match wore on. Hazlewood finished with the dream figures of 5 wickets for 8 runs, while Cummins took 4 for 21 to bowl India out for 36.
The Real Reason: Faster Wicket and Reduced Swing
But did a lack of intent really lead to the batting collapse? Analysing the innings in the television studio, commentators Sanjay Manjrekar and Glenn McGrath appeared to think otherwise. Manjrekar observed that the Indian batsmen had played much the same way in the first innings and ended up scoring 244 runs, enough to gain a first-innings lead of 53 after bowling out Australia for 191. Both Manjrekar and McGrath agreed that the changing nature of the wicket had more to do with the batting failure. As they pointed out, the wicket had appeared to be a little faster in the 3rd morning than on the previous two days of the match. But the ball had swung much less. As a result, the batsmen nicked everything in the second innings. Most batsmen were either caught behind or in the slips. In the first innings, they played and missed a lot when the ball tended to swing away much more.
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