India’s lowest impact bowler in the match was Ishant Sharma – apparently now Isshannt Sharma – he has reportedly changed the spellings of his name on a numerologist’s advice – a true-blue Bollywood solution to a dry spell, as it were. It’s not that he bowled badly; in fact, at times he looked decidedly top-class (like when he bowled Clarke). Unfortunately, the consistency and discipline issues that have plagued him, manifested here too (especially in the first innings). He was perhaps a little unlucky to not get a couple of more wickets, but overall, he was eventually the fourth-best bowler for India in the match.
It is curious that the two worst innings bowling performances in the match came from the two spinners (Ashwin and Lyon). Ashwin’s bowling in the second innings (the phase of the match where he was expected to have quite a say in proceedings) was a disappointment and he contributed considerably towards Australia’s dominance by the time they were all out. Lyon’s 0-66 in the first innings seemed out-of-place then.
Interestingly, there were two Australians with a lower Match IMPACT than India’s lowest impact player in the match (Gambhir) – both Lyon and Marsh had even poorer matches. And, at the other end, both Australia and India had two players crossing the maximum impact of 5 – it was the consistency of the rest that determined which way the match went. Australia had three players between an IMPACT of 3 and 5, India had none. The contributions of Ponting, Hussey and Siddle can then be seen as the difference between the two sides.
The match was on a razor’s edge for the first three days. At the halfway stage, at the end of the first innings, Australia’s Team IMPACT was 2.06 as compared to India’s 1.96 – the difference of 0.10 expressing the 51 runs lead. By the end of the match though, Australia’s Team IMPACT reached 2.19 and India’s fell further to 1.88.
It is a credit to the Australian team that they fought back repeatedly during tough situations (Australia 214-6 in their first innings; fighting back from India’s first innings of 214-3; Australia 27 for 4 in the second innings and later 197 for 9). Doubly creditable, given the gut-wrenching scraps they’ve had in two back-to-back series before this.
Given India’s bowling performance in this match though, it is unlikely the last word has been said in this series. The high impact Indian batting is likely to come back all guns blazing in Sydney. Interesting times ahead – these are still two evenly-matched sides. Now, even more evenly matched with Australia having tasted first blood.