March 15, 2017

Angry India proof that Australia are doing well

Smith and Co have been on the ball but there are a couple of areas where they can step it up

Kohli roused his team with anger and turned the stadium into a cauldron © Associated Press

First things first: Steven Smith and Pete Handscomb did the wrong thing in Bengaluru. There was no justification for trying to seek a steer from the team viewing area about whether or not to refer an lbw decision, and Nigel Llong did exactly the right thing to wave Steven away without the option of taking his review.

A bit like a yellow or red card in soccer, the on-field penalty applied by Llong should have been the end of the matter. Instead there were the remonstrations of India's captain Virat Kohli on the field, then his provocative allegations post-match. While it has been easy to get lost in the detail of the accusations, the underlying fact is that Kohli and India got angry in Bengaluru. They did so after being on the end of an unexpected thrashing in Pune.

It was interesting to me how the Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland handled the affair. He jumped to Steven's defence with strong words that the players on tour would have appreciated. But at the same time he also sought to cool matters behind the scenes with the BCCI, ultimately leading to a code of conduct charge being dropped.

That has freed the series from being hijacked by claim and counter-claim, much as the "Monkeygate" series was in Australia in 2008. More specifically it has freed up the Australians to keep up their bid to beat India, and a clear mind will be as valuable an asset as anything over the next two Tests.

Kohli and his team had little choice but to get angry during the second Test: up to that point they had been beaten on skill by Steven's team, who had shown excellent temperament in preparing for the series and accepting whatever conditions came their way without whingeing. Ravi Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja were grinning on day one of the Pune Test as the ball spun miles, but it was Australia who finished on top.

Kohli and his team had little choice but to get angry during the second Test: up to that point they had been beaten on skill by Steven's team, who had shown excellent temperament in preparing for the series and accepting whatever conditions came their way without whingeing

Having roused his team with anger, Kohli succeeded in creating a real cauldron of an atmosphere in the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, and in a difficult fourth-innings chase Australia were unable to handle the pressure, as shown by the DRS mistakes made around the dismissals of Shaun Marsh and then Steven. That frenzied fourth afternoon should not dissuade the Australians from maintaining their disciplined and focused approach in Ranchi, because over the course of a long Test series, skill will invariably hold up better than emotion.

Australia do have a couple of areas in which they can find that little bit extra to succeed where they fell short in the second Test. First, there is more to come from David Warner at the top of the order. Over the first two Tests it was obvious how hard David was working to find the right method for India, but in doing so I felt he was a little too tentative, especially against Ashwin, who has such a strong record bowling to him.

David has it in him to play the decisive innings of this series, particularly on pitches where low scoring increases the impact of a batsman who is capable of scoring as quickly as David can. Critically, he will need to identify the right moment to take control, a bit like Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist did when under pressure on a sharply spinning deck in Mumbai in 2001. To do so will take courage, but as his first-innings dismissal in Bengaluru showed, a tentative approach won't do too much good either.

Another key will be Australia's fielding, a topic that can get tiresome but is just so important. David and Steven were among those who missed a handful of hard chances in the second innings in Bengaluru, offering KL Rahul and Cheteshwar Pujara the breathing room to prosper, much as India's misses allowed Steven to go on to his tremendous hundred in Pune. As any series goes on, it can get harder to maintain the freshness that allows for the best quality of fielding: that's why it is vital for Steven's team to make the most of half-chances.

Lastly, I don't have a problem with the Australian selectors' gamble on Pat Cummins, taking him to India off the back of one Sheffield Shield match to replace Mitchell Starc. I've got two reasons for this. One, we have already seen in this series that genuine pace is a critical element to success on unresponsive pitches. Two, Australia find themselves in a position few dreamed of being possible before the series. Victory from here would be the equal of anything achieved in recent Australian Test history. In that light, the decision to seek a return from CA's investment in Pat makes sense.

Former wicketkeeper Brad Haddin played 66 Tests for Australia

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • disco on March 21, 2017, 23:47 GMT

    Brad Haddin, are you saying that Lehmann would actually have participated even if Smith had wanted help? You sir are as bad as Kohli.

  • Sundar on March 18, 2017, 1:14 GMT

    Garry Sobers in those days and Adam Gilchrist and MSD in recent days are the very few who walk back just as they felt they were out, not waiting for the umpire to declare! With the controversies and animated behaviours going on, on & off the field now and India losing the grip on the game proves the point on why people bestowed the title of Captain Cool on MSD! While Sachin too needs to be remembered here in his ability to control emotions and showing whatever he needs to only with the bat on an individual level, MSD did it on a team level no matter favourable or undesired scenarios faced, thus contributing more to the overall performance! Kohli has needs to work on his temperament as a leader to register formidable performances! Team India is has one of its best ever skill sets and choices including bench strength at the moment, given the current day challenges for the players not seen in the past!

  • sidhar0043432 on March 17, 2017, 8:45 GMT

    Though I am not a big fan of Brad Haddins own conduct during his playing days. I would agree with what he is saying here. It was a minor incident, where Smith just took the opportunity presented to him. That should have been the end. I don't see why Kohli never walks away when he had edged a delivery and the umpire doesn't judge him out and yet at every opportunity he says that the game is not being played in the right spirit by Australia.

  • Craig on March 17, 2017, 1:42 GMT

    Funny how if an Aussie shows some anger he is the worst person ever, but if an Indian shows anger, then keeps going on about it, well that's just fine...

  • s on March 16, 2017, 11:57 GMT

    A person is not punished for their anger, they are punished by their anger.

  • Drew on March 16, 2017, 11:14 GMT

    I thought Kohli was an outlier on anger, not just Indian anger. Perhaps all Indians are angry about anything and everything? The comments after this incident from Indians seem strangely in support of Kohli. Pretty hypocritical really given how much those same fans believe they are the protectors of the 'spirit of cricket'. Funny how you don't see that term mentioned much now with Kohli as captain.

  • Shane on March 16, 2017, 7:18 GMT

    I'm no fan of Haddin. not by a long shot, but some of the reactions on here are priceless.

  • Damodar on March 16, 2017, 7:08 GMT

    sray23 on March 16, 2017, 2:11 GMT: A normal person would have taken the trouble of asking Gourishankar which series he was referring to, before posting a comment.

  •   Venkatesh Venkatesh on March 16, 2017, 7:01 GMT

    Angry or not Angry is no body's property , when captain of the team looks at dressing room to seek option about review ( when this is prohibited )it is natural for Kohili & Co to demonstrate their disapproval of this in their own fashion which they every right to do they exercised it . Regarding Australian misery in this tour some of them are self inflected when opposition gives back taste of their own medicine to Australian team for that lot of noise was made by your ex- cricketers as well as Australian media which ridicules, let us not harp on old issues which is meaningless to present day situation .If Australia play cricket in right sprit India will definitely reciprocate in same fashion & BCCI knows law as much as your ACB knows that your media as well as your ex cricketers showed aware of this. Kohili aggressive cricket is an asset to Indian cricket

  •   Cricinfouser on March 16, 2017, 5:40 GMT

    Mr Haddin tries to justify this article by starting it with midly saying that Steven Smith was "wrong" in looking toward the pavillion for assistance toward a review. Steven Smith, a captain and a captain of Australia at that, violated a code of conduct. Of course Kholi and the Indian team have every right to be angry. In short deflect blame to make the opposition even angrier. For a man of your record Mr Haddin, this is poor!

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