The Indian cricket team may have levelled the four-match Test series 1-1 with a 75-run victory against Australia in the second Test at Bengaluru. But they cannot forget that they were under the pump in the first three-and-a-half days of the Test match.
At 120/4, in the second innings, India had a lead of just 33 runs. And going by the way the Indian batting has performed in the series, another collapse looked on the cards.
But Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane grinded out a 118-run partnership and helped India attain a lead of 187 runs. After which Ravichandran Ashwin (6/41) worked his magic and India walked off the field victorious.
Even though India won, there are still a lot of issues that need to be addressed by the team management before the next two Tests.
The Quint takes a look at the four aspects that India need to address before the third Test against Australia.
1. Building Partnerships
India has recorded only three half-century partnerships (including the 118-run stand between Pujara and Rahane) in the four-match series so far, while Australia have have had seven fifty-plus stands in the series.
The home side has managed meagre totals of 105, 107, 189 and 274 runs in this competition. The only upside is that they have improved their total each time they have batted in the series.
But they cannot rely on gritty partnerships between Pujara and Rahane every time. The Indian batting line-up has to consistently form partnerships right from the top of the order if the team wants to stay competitive in this series.
And to have a good batting performance, runs at the top are essential. India have had an issue with their opening pair throughout the season, but while the entire batting line-up is in disarray, its the opening batsmen that need to lead from the front.
India’s opening pair has scored only 21.5 runs per innings so far. With Murali Vijay likely to be fit for the third Test, the Chennai lad and KL Rahul will have to start the revival of the Indian opening duo.
2. Decision Review System (DRS)
India have asked for a review 13 times in this series. And guess how many times have they got it right? Only twice!
After India agreed to DRS again just before the England series, India have had only 17 successful reviews out of 61.
On most occasions, the Indian team seem to take their reviews according to their gut feeling rather than assessing a particular dismissal systematically. And, statistically, the home side have also been keen on taking a review when there is a big player at stake.
Virat Kohli took a review in both the innings of the Bengaluru Test. And India have asked for a review of Steve Smith’s wicket thrice in four innings during this series and have got it wrong on all three occasions.
3. India’s Lower Order is Yet to Deliver
Throughout the home season, every time the top and middle order failed, someone or the other from the lower order stepped up and took India to a decent position in the batting front.
But in this series, they contributed only 19 runs in the first Test and 35 runs in the second match. Ravindra Jadeja’s scores in this series are 2,3,3 and 2.
On the other hand, Australia’s speedster Mitchell Starc, who has returned home due to an injury, has scored 118 runs in the series.
Contribution from the lower batting order can make a massive difference to any team.
4. No Balls
The home side have bowled a whopping 15 no balls in this series so far, while the Australians have delivered only one no ball in the competition.
Because of no balls, India have been denied two wickets in the series so far. In Australia’s first innings of the first Test, Jayant Yadav had bowled out David Warner, but then unfortunately, the Australian opener batted on because the off-spinner had overstepped the crease.
In Australia’s first innings of the second Test, Ishant Sharma trapped Shaun Marsh LBW, but the umpire called no ball even before the Indians could go up for a full appeal.