India succumbed to their lowest-ever Test score of 36 in the Adelaide Test against Australia, beating the previous lowest of 42 recorded against England at Lord's in 1974. The debacle was not expected at all after India produced the first innings score of 244. But all hell broke loose in the third day morning of the match, when Australian bowlers – Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins – ran through the Indian batting line-up, and completed the riot in just 21.2 overs.
So, what went wrong in the Adelaide Test? Was the '36' waiting to happen? Was India under-prepared for the Test series? Or, it was just masterclass bowling against the World No 1 Test team?
Despite all the criticism that Indian batsmen bore after the rout as others defended them as just a bad day at the office or praising the Australian bowlers for their brilliant bowling, it cannot be denied that this Adelaide debacle was just waiting to happen.
For the record, it was the first Test India was playing since February as the coronavirus pandemic brought the world to a standstill. Hence, India has had no match fitness for nine months of playing a five-day Test, and that too on alien conditions, and plus the novelty of a Day-Night Test with a pink ball.
Hence, India could not sustain themselves against a relentless Australia as they were definitely under-prepared and were not up to the mark. On a tough tour Down Under, India needed at least one Test series against another competitive team before embarking on the tough Test series in Australia. But the pandemic could not allow that. And hence, India fell short of mental toughness to counter the threat Down Under.
Fatigue post IPL
India has had a two-month competitive IPL before the Test series. And baring a few Test specialists, almost every Indian player in the squad participated in the IPL 2020. And IPL does not match up to the rigors of Test cricket. In fact, its tight schedule makes the players mentally tired and physically fatigued. And hence, Rohit Sharma missed the bus for the initial part of the Test series due to a hamstring injury.
Kohli has been brilliant as a Test skipper, but his poor selection of XI has seen him losing few Tests abroad. And hence, it was no different in Adelaide. In the previous tour in South Africa in 2018, he has benched one of the best batsmen – Ajinkya Rahane – after C Pujara and Kohli himself – before realizing the mistake, and including Rahane in the third Test – which India eventually won.
In the Adelaide Test, he picked Prithvi Shaw ahead of Shubman Gill despite Shaw's struggles and Gill's confident and useful knocks in the tour games. With Shaw failing miserably in the two innings, Gill is set to open against Australia in the second Test.
India's past collapses overseas
Under Virat Kohli, India has won 1 Test in South Africa, 1 in England, 0 in New Zealand, 2 in Australia since he took up Test captaincy in 2014. But Kohli has also lost 11 Tests in these SENA countries out of a total of 13 Tests he has lost, and there have been few alarming collapses in the overseas tours but it was brushed aside after India posted a solo or two consolation wins. Hence, the real problem was never diagnosed and treated. And it finally was exposed in Adelaide.
India's batting frailties
Except for Virat Kohli, and to some extent C Pujara, there's hardly any Indian batsman who has scored consistently in the overseas Test series. Rahane has shown promise but flattered to deceive. And hence, when these two pillars – Pujara and Kohli - of the Indian Test team fail, India is bound to struggle. And with a tail that hardly wags in the overseas tour, India have had their task cut out. And hence, the Adelaide Test showed the true mirror to the Indian Test team that this debacle was waiting to happen. And they are still lions at home, and lambs abroad.
Cover photo credit: CricketAddictor