Game, set, match and era to Australia

Analysis of the Adelaide Test

By Jaideep Varma & Jatin Thakkar

India’s Team IMPACT on the game was 1.42 while Australia’s reached 2.02. Yet another thrashing.

The IMPACT scorecard for the match.

All figures between 0 to 5.

* 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.

Match (and Series) Observations:

Ponting had the highest impact (5.65*) for his performance of 221 and 60 in the match.  He absorbed pressure in the first innings – when he came out to bat at 31 for 2 and, not for the first time in the series, guided Australia spectacularly out of it. In the second innings, he top-scored with 60 as Australia looked for an assailable lead.

He is followed by Clarke (4.28) on the Impact sheet, for his 210 and 37 in the match.

However, Siddle who took 5-49 in the first innings and 1-47 in the second (when nothing was really at stake) was declared the Man-of-the Match. His Match IMPACT was a relatively meagre 3.44. A shocking decision but not the first time such anomalies have taken place.

For India, R Ashwin with the ball and Virat Kohli with the bat were the highest impact players – once again, strongly underlining a case for the new generation getting its chances now. Kohli’s 116 in India’s first innings began when he came out to bat at the score of 87 for 4 wickets which further deteriorated to 111 for 5. He absorbed the most pressure in the match.

Clarke was adjudged as the Player-of-the-Series for being the highest scorer (626 runs) – a shocking decision. Hilfenhaus (who took 27 wickets in the Series and crossed a Match IMPACT of 2 in every single match, Series IMPACT 4.10) had a far higher Series IMPACT than Clarke (2.95).

Besides Hilfenhaus, even Siddle (took 23 wickets in the Series and also crossed a Match IMPACT of 2 in every single match, Series IMPACT 3.90) and Ponting (544 runs, often under pressure, to have the highest Pressure IMPACT in the Series and failed to cross a Match IMPACT of 1 only in the 3rd match, Series IMPACT 3.50) also had a higher impact in the series than Clarke (even after accounting for his Captaincy IMPACT).

It was as if Siddle was awarded Man-of-the-Match for his performance in the last Test as a compensation for his overall series performance. And Clarke received the Man-of-the-Series award only for his triple and double centuries, which gave him the highest aggregate of runs in the series. As well as Clarke performed, the fact is that Warner’s 180 in the third Test had a greater impact than Clarke’s 329 in the second, and Ponting had a greater impact as a batsman in the series than Clarke because of the amount of pressure he absorbed, took charge and stabilised the innings, several times.

Ignoring the highest impact bowler and the highest impact batsman in the series (Hilfenhaus and Ponting), it is ludicrous that Clarke got the best player award, one that does not do the adjudicating panel any credit. Maybe they could have done with DRS here.
None of this was otherwise a surprise in this Test. Even before the 4th Test began, we had explained in our Series report after the 3rd Test (link here to the earlier report) how Kohli had a higher impact in the series than Tendulkar despite scoring far less at a far lower average than him. He amply proved it in this match. Ditto why Ponting with a lower average than both Clarke and Hussey had a far higher impact, which he too proved in the fourth Test.

After the fourth Test, in fact, Kohli’s status as the highest impact batsman for India is indisputable. Though he is just 13 runs ahead of Tendulkar on aggregates (300 to 287 runs), the difference in their impact in the series is massive – 1.87 to 1.18, indicating the pressure Kohli absorbed and the far tougher runs he scored. Tendulkar completed the first tour of Australia in his career (presumably the last too, but who knows?) without a century, similar to his performance in England last summer (a first there too). Interestingly, despite this, and despite his low Batting IMPACT, no one talks about his decline – only because of how he has looked in the middle, for a short while.

Lyon and Ashwin had their highest Bowling IMPACT performances of the series in this match (Lyon took 5-111, Match Bowling IMPACT 3.40 and Ashwin 5-267, Match Bowling IMPACT 2.63) to move from the bottom of the Series Bowling IMPACT list.

This ensured that the status of the lowest Bowling IMPACT in the series goes to the man most deserving of this dubious honour (as we have pointed out several times right through the series) – Ishant Sharma (Bowling IMPACT 0.21, barely more than his Batting IMPACT of 0.19). For those who think he’s unlucky, they really ought to examine his case after taking those tinted glasses off.

Zaheer and Yadav had a mediocre last match (Zaheer took 3-134, Match Bowling IMPACT 1.86 and Yadav 2-159, Match Bowling IMPACT 1.04) to take their Series Bowling IMPACT to 2.36 and 2.13 respectively, lower than what it was at the end of the 3rd match in our series review. However, they still remain the highest Series IMPACT players for India in the series even ahead of Kohli (Zaheer Series IMPACT 2.62, Yadav 2.24 and Kohli 1.97).

This, alongside the fact that Indian Team’s Series Batting IMPACT was 1.12 as compared to Series Bowling IMPACT of 1.38, clearly suggests that the India’s miserable performance in the series was more a result of batting failure than bowling.

The batting spectacularly failed – and the major blame has to go on its much-experienced, much-vaunted stars – Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman and Sehwag. If Dravid and Laxman do not retire after the fourth Test match, it would be embarrassing and they would be setting themselves up for ridicule. The next Test is 7 months away and there is nothing left to play for. They will be like Kapil Dev at the fag end of his career, without even a landmark to play for. If they do not retire now, they will not go with grace, and this will sully the end of their careers even more sadly.

So finally, Australia’s Series IMPACT was 2.46 to India’s 1.36. This is a thrashing, even if not as big as the one in England (2.87 to 1.09). But there, they had excuses – injuries to too many key players, weariness after two back-to-back long tournaments (World Cup and IPL). They have no excuses now – and this beating will rankle more, as it should.

Australia, on the other hand, have made the transition from a promising youthful side finding its feet to a successful one with a bright future (they will rue these bowlers did not bowl against England in the last Ashes). The seniors (Ponting, Clarke and Hussey) guided them beautifully while performing outstandingly themselves – which is actually what had been expected of the Indians in this series.

A new era beckons Australia, one that could see them ascend new heights very rapidly again. A difficult period of transition awaits India, as the most glorious chapter in their cricket history ends decisively now.

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