Australia draw first blood

The two Australian senior batsmen, who were deemed to be on notice before this Test, produced the best batting performances in the match. Melbourne Test - through Impact Index

By Jaideep Varma & Jatin Thakkar

Even though the match lasted just 4 days, Test cricket was well-served by this match. It was riveting for the first three days, as it seemed an equal battle between bat and ball for most of the match. Till the fourth day, when India went completely flat; first while trying to wait for Pattinson and Hilfenhaus to make a mistake (as opposed to attacking them) during which period they added a demoralising 43 runs. Then, the hallowed Indian batsmen, displaying a painfully familiar pusillanimity in the deciding innings, made it a one-sided game very quickly.

 The IMPACT scorecard for the match. All figures between 0 to 5.

 

Australia

Batting IMPACT

Bowling 

IMPACT

Captaincy / WK

Fielding IMPACT

Match IMPACT

IMPACT

 

1st Inn

2nd Inn

1st Inn

2nd Inn

 

 

 

BW Hilfenhaus

0.34

0.38

3.42

1.65

 

0.00

5.00 (5.79*)

JL Pattinson

0.32

1.20

0.95

2.71

 

0.00

5.00 (5.18*)

RT Ponting

1.48

2.81

0.00

0.00

 

0.13

4.42

PM Siddle

0.73

0.11

1.83

1.60

 

0.00

4.27

MEK Hussey

0.00

3.50

 0.00

 

 

0.38

3.88

EJG Cowan

1.80

0.22

 

 

 

0.38

2.39

BJ Haddin

0.48

0.22

 

 

0.65

0.63

1.97

MJ Clarke

0.55

0.03

 

 

0.50

0.00

1.08

DA Warner

0.66

0.13

 

 

 

0.13

0.92

SE Marsh

0.00

0.08

 

 

 

0.00

0.08

NM Lyon

0.11

0.00

-0.50

0.20

 

0.00

0.00 (-0.19*)


India

Batting IMPACT

Bowling 

IMPACT

Captaincy / WK

Fielding IMPACT

Match IMPACT

IMPACT

 

1st Inn

2nd Inn

1st Inn

2nd Inn

 

 

 

U Yadav

0.04

0.56

2.24

2.58

 

0.00

5.00 (5.42*)

Z Khan

0.07

0.35

2.49

2.24

 

0.00

5.00 (5.15*)

SR Tendulkar

1.39

0.86

 

 

 

0.00

2.25

R Ashwin

0.55

0.81

1.16

-0.30

 

0.00

2.22

MS Dhoni

0.11

0.62

 

 

0.52

0.75

2.00

V Sehwag

1.49

0.19

 

 

 

0.25

1.93

R Dravid

1.65

0.27

 

 

 

0.00

1.92

I Sharma

0.20

0.16

-0.28

0.90

 

0.00

0.98

V Kohli

0.20

0.00

 

 

 

0.25

0.45

VVS Laxman

0.04

0.03

 

 

 

0.38

0.44

G Gambhir

0.05

0.35

 

 

 

0.00

0.40

* In a career context, these figures will be restricted between 0 and 5, with 5 as the highest on the IMPACT Index scale. In a match context though, the unrestricted figures tell their own stories.

Observations

Pattinson got the Man-of-the-Match award but there were actually two others ahead of him on the IMPACT scales. Hilfenhaus took 5 for 75 and 2 for 39 and none of his wickets were from the lower-order (Pattinson had two lower order wickets in his tally of 6 in the match). Pattinson did bat very well in the second innings (his Batting IMPACT for the match was 1.52 - a genuine all-rounder's performance) but his overall IMPACT of 5.18 was 0.61 less than Hilfenhaus, whose bowling had the most impact on the game. In fact, it was his bowling on the second day that ensured India did not get the first innings lead (after being fully set for it). In the second innings, Hilfenhaus and Siddle bowled tightly to give Pattinson a great platform - in fact, Hilfenhaus even got Economy IMPACT in the second innings - the only time by any bowler in the match. According to Impact Index, Hilfenhaus should have been the Man-of-the-Match.

Umesh Yadav was the other player who had a higher impact than Pattinson - again, mostly because of his bowling. His Bowling IMPACT crossed 2 in both innings - an outstanding performance (Pattinson did not even cross a Bowling IMPACT of 1 in the first innings). In both innings, Yadav got Pressure-building IMPACT points as he took quick wickets; in the first innings he also broke a partnership (when he dismissed Ponting). He was more expensive than the other bowlers though, for which he was penalized on the IMPACT scale, but he still surged ahead on his overall showing.

Zaheer Khan also crossed an IMPACT of 5 for the match - a very rare occasion when two pace bowlers topped the IMPACT charts for India, and that too in an overseas Test. He was almost back to his absolute best - remarkable for someone playing his first international match after such a long injury break. His fitness and form will still be key to India's chances in the rest of the series.

 

The two Australian senior batsmen, who were deemed to be on notice before this Test, produced the best batting performances in the match. Michael Hussey's 89 in the 2nd innings came after the innings had been reduced to 27 for 4 (which translated to a lead of 78 but was still a very vulnerable situation) and he absorbed considerable pressure (of 0.93 IMPACT points) while controlling the innings and was ninth out at 197 - this performance had the highest Batting IMPACT for an innings in the match - 3.50. Ricky Ponting, though, had the highest impact in the match amongst all batsmen - for his twin sixties, in a relatively low-scoring affair. He absorbed pressure in both innings, and in the second innings, even thwarted the new ball, as he had to come in very early (at 16 for 2). There's no doubt that his immense experience came in as handy as the petrol still present in his tank, in navigating his team through this match.

In the first innings, Sehwag and Tendulkar played swashbuckling innings of 67 and 73 respectively but Dravid's laboured innings of 68 actually had a slightly higher impact than both, in the context of the Test match. Sehwag's Batting IMPACT then was 1.49, Tendulkar's was 1.39, Dravid's 1.65. This was because both Dravid and Sehwag absorbed pressure (Gambhir's early wicket at 22); moreover, Dravid also got slightly more IMPACT points for building partnerships (he was in the middle while 192 runs got scored).

Dhoni has gone on record to admit that his technique is not the most effective in Test cricket. His mediocre Test batting continued here, though he had a good match as wicketkeeper - which largely explains his Match IMPACT of 2. His captaincy was poor though - sadly, Impact Index cannot quite calculate that in a match context yet, but his tendency to wait for things to happen is perhaps a throwback to what has brought him success in limited-overs cricket - it doesn't work in Test cricket as well, where attack and intensity is often the order of those moments. It might well have cost India this match.

 

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.

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