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A little more than eight years ago Australia was bowled out for 47 in Cape Town. It was the Aussies’ worst batting performance since 1902.
But one week later, Michael Clarke’s men rebounded and found a way to win in Johannesburg, levelling the two Test series 1-1.
The challenge that confronts India now is similar to Australia’s in November 2011, though they don’t have their captain to steer the ship.
Eight days separates Amazing Adelaide 2.0 and the Boxing Day Test. In a Covid-19 environment where escaping the cricket bubble will prove near impossible for the visitors, they must find a way to balance learning from Sunday’s collapse and forgetting about it altogether.
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India bowled for 36!!
Will it be seen as an anomaly inside the Indian camp? A blip on an otherwise clear radar? Or will it be reviewed extensively? Each false shot analysed in slow motion to pick apart 92 minutes of error-riddled batting. Either way, coach Ravi Shastri has a critical role to play in the wash-up.
The mental hurdles India faces are all too familiar for Brad Haddin and Michael Hussey, who were both dismissed for ducks in Australia’s humiliating performance against the Proteas.
Hussey, batting at No.5, faced one delivery, flaying a Morne Morkel thunderbolt to third slip where Ashwell Prince took the catch. When the West Australian was dismissed the score was 4-13. He would have barely unstrapped his pads by the time Haddin joined him, caught behind for a duck from the bowling of eventual man of the match Vernon Philander. Shortly after, they were 9-21.
If not for some late hitting from Nathan Lyon and Peter Siddle, Australia would have been bowled out in the 20s.
The performance sent shockwaves through Australian cricket on the eve of the Test summer. “Like an earthquake, there was no forewarning. Like religion, it could not be rationalised,” Greg Baum wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald.
BRAD HADDIN, MIKE HUSSEY AND TOM MORRIS DISCUSS INDIA’S 92 MINUTES OF MAYHEM AND PREVIEW THE MCG TEST. TO LISTEN, TAP HERE OR SUBSCRIBE IN ITUNES OR SPOTIFY
A furious Clarke, who notched a ton in the first dig, threatened to wield the axe. Hussey, who was deeply embarrassed by the performance, told Fox Cricket’s Follow-On podcast the more talking the batsmen did in the days that followed, the worse they felt.
“I couldn’t really explain it afterwards,” Hussey said of the collapse.
“We tried to have batting meetings that went for ever. We were pulling our hair out. We just didn’t know what went wrong.
“To be honest, personally I didn’t get a lot out of those meetings. Everyone was just shattered and disappointed and raw and emotional at that time.
“Did you see my shot? I played a big cover drive off Morne Morkel first ball and edged it to third slip. I wanted to walk off in the opposite direction and not come back to the dressing room.”
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Asked to offer advice to the Indians based off his own Cape Town experience, Haddin advocated the KISS method: Keep it simple, stupid
“Firstly you need to go to the bar,” Haddin laughed.
“Then you get to the bottom of it. There is no point having those long meetings. You have to go back to why you are in the team. You have to go back to trusting your technique.
“Test matches are about winning big moments. That can also be in your own mind as well. After an incident like that you start to doubt yourself. ‘Am I good enough for this level. What have I done here?’ Good ones come through, get their preparation spot on, so when they come to the first ball of the Test, they are as well prepared as they can be.
“We won the next Test and went to the bar again. You have to be mentally strong enough.”
So what went wrong in Adelaide? Haddin said the Indians were late to adjust to a pitch which was slow on day one but hardened up on days two and three.
Aussies take 5 for 4!
According to the former Australian gloveman, the lack of pace saw up to seven edges fall short last Thursday.
But as the South Australian sun baked the wicket, Australia’s pace brigade ran through India’s batting order in remarkable fashion, consigning the tourists to their lowest ever Test score.
“India wasn’t quick enough to realise what happens tactically in a Test at Adelaide,” Haddin said.
“Similar to The Gabba, the first day the pitch is slower but the next three days it quickens up. They got caught on the crease and played with their hands out in front. I just think they relaxed a bit in the Test and the one thing you can’t do in Test cricket is relax.”
Hussey urged the Indians to cover the bounce and seam by striding further forwards but said Australia deserved as much praise as India warranted criticism.
“The Aussie bowling was superb,” he added. “They got it right and were relentless with their length.
“The adjustment they made is they bowled about a foot fuller. Instead of playing and missing, they edged them. It did a bit less but it did it quickly.”
Australia dominate first test
Unlike South Africa in 2011, India has three Tests to find the right balance between defence and attack. Doing so without Virat Kohli adds a layer of difficulty, but it cannot be forgotten that when Tim Paine was dropped in Australia’s first innings, the tourists led by 143 runs.
The game was essentially theirs. Better fielding combined with a fair assumption that the Adelaide collapse was a once in a lifetime event makes the MCG contest a closer one than last Saturday’s events would suggest.
Nevertheless, the situation is simple and stark for the Indians: Lose at the MCG and they need to win the remaining two Tests to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. One of those two matches will be at the Gabba, a ground Australia has not lost at since 1988.
The Indians need to bounce back and they need to bounce back first.