B0y Qaiser Mohammad Ali
New Delhi, Dec 19 (IANS) India being bowled out for 36 runs against Australia and losing the first Test by eight wickets was an “unmitigated disaster”, said former India captain Bishan Singh Bedi, and gave all credit to the home bowlers for the superb performance. At the same time, he pointed out that the Indians did not throw away their wickets, and that they were out to unplayable balls in the absence of a “tight defence”.
“This is unmitigated disaster, 36 all out — absolutely. This can’t be explained. Every good ball got a wicket. Mind you, the Indians did not throw away their wickets. They were edging the ball, and it was carrying. This is one of those things in cricket that can happen. And it has happened. You’ve got to accept it,” Bedi told IANS.
“My sympathies are with the Indian team. But the Australians really dominated and dwarfed the Indian batting line-up. They surprised the Indians by bowling up (closer to batsmen), and the ball was moving a little bit. They didn’t bowl short,” he observed.
India, after taking a 53-run first-innings lead, faltered and were all out for 36 – the joint fourth lowest score in 2,396 Test matches played over 142 years – ‘beating’ their own 42 all out against England in 1974 at Lord’s, London. Australia won the first Test by eight wickets to take a 1-0 lead in the four-match series.
Bedi, 74, praised the Aussie bowlers for exploiting the conditions on the third morning of the match. Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins captured five and four wickets respectively as India capitulated.
“You’ve got to give credit to the Australians for bowling a very tight line and bowling up. The Australians bowled well, and all good balls bowled took wickets. A majority of our boys were found wanting against the moving ball. Particularly, when you don’t get a good opening stand you are always struggling,” said the illustrious left-arm spinner.
“I am not at all convinced about these two opening batters (Prithvi Shaw and Mayank Agarwal), whether they belong here or not. They should have played Shubman Gill and KL Rahul. They are more organised. Gill is a very nice, organised young kid; he needs a longish rope. You can have tons of ability; but without proper cricket sense that ability is zero. Tight defence is very important,” he emphasised.
To buttress his point on tight defence, Bedi cited the example of former West Indian opener Rohan Kanhai from the Rest of the World XI (RoW)-Australia second ‘Test’ match in Perth in 1971. Bedi and Sunil Gavaskar were part of the RoW team.
“RoW were bowled out for 59 in first innings, as Aussie fast bowler Dennis Lillee took eight wickets (8/29 in 7.1 overs). In those days we used to have an eight-ball over, and Lillee literally ran though the RoW side. In the second innings, Kanhai blasted a century; it was a mind boggling knock. He really tore into Lillee and the other bowlers,” recalled the Delhi-based spinner, who was just 25 in 1971.
“I was pretty young, and wasn’t an intellectual observer at the time. I asked Kanhai ‘can you explain how the hell the shots you played on the same pitch we were bowled out for 59 earlier?’ He said ‘you saw me play those shots. Did you see my defence? I could not have played those shots without a tight defence’. That happened almost 50 years ago, and Kanhai’s statement hasn’t gone out of my mind. Tight defence is the key word, especially in Test matches, where you’ve got to last five days,” he explained.
Although Bedi didn’t seem too happy with the selection of the playing XI in Adelaide, he wasn’t angry either, saying he would give the “benefit of the doubt to the selectors on the spot”.
“After this match, Kohli would return home (for the impending birth of his first child). Now, with Kohli this is the situation. What will happen without Kohli? Now, they don’t have time to recover,” he said, referring to the second Test starting on December 26 in Melbourne.
Bedi blamed both teams for playing too much T20 cricket that has impacted the game of players while switching to Test matches.
“If you analyse, both teams’ over indulgence in T20 format has left them barren as far as tight defence is concerned. Test match cricket is totally different, and we get swayed by over indulgence in the stupid Indian Premier League (IPL). They (Indians) left for Australia from the United Arab Emirates (where IPL was played from September-November). This was not the right kind of preparation for the Test matches,” he said.
India’s tour schedule comprised the 50-over ODI series first and then the T20, followed by the Test series.
“It’s very hypothetical. But, ideally, they should have played T20 matches first, 50-over ODIs, and then Test matches. But even in T20 and ODIs India’s performance wasn’t too encouraging, but it was alright,” Bedi said.