"My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure," said Abraham Lincoln. This famous quote by the 16th president of the United States resonated through the mind while watching another galling surrender by the Australian batsmen on day one of the fourth Test against India.
After being at the receiving end of pastings in the Chennai and Hyderabad and a four-day defeat in Mohali, one expected the Australian batsmen to demonstrate some defiance in Delhi and salvage some pride. But that proved to be wishful thinking as Australia's top and middle order flattered to deceive once again. The manner of their dismissals highlighted the fact that the Australian batsmen have failed to learn from their past mistakes and meekly let Indian bowlers muzzle them. The intent to occupy the crease was conspicuous by its absence.
The pitch at the Feroz Shah Kotla, admittedly, isn't conducive for strokeplay and started crumbling during the first hour of play which prompted VVS Laxman, on air, to remark that the surface bore the look of a day three wicket while Ravi Shastri dubbed the pitch as "ugly". But the stubborn resistance from the lower order - Peter Siddle and James Pattinson - showed that the wicket isn't as abrasive as it is made out to be.
Warning for Warner
David Warner perished for a duck playing a slapdash shot in the second over of the match. He went for a flashy drive trying to play on the rise to a ball which pitched outside off stump and was going away with the angle. That ball could have easily be left alone considering it was just the second over of the Test and Australia need a solid start after opting to bat. This wasn't the first case when indiscretion got the better of the left-hander. Even earlier in the series, Warner looked too hurried to play his strokes without getting his eye in. He squandered a couple of opportunities to convert fine starts into substantial scores as impetuosity caused his downfall.
Shane Watson's life has come a full circle in the last 10 days. He flew to Australia after being dropped for the third Test following the 'Homeworkgate' saga but returned to lead the side for the final match in the absence of Michael Clarke, who was ruled out due to back spasms. However, dismal form with the bat continued as he was stumped by MS Dhoni off Ravindra Jadeja. Watson stepped out of the crease trying to nudge the ball towards midwicket across the line, but it spun away sharply after pitching on a good length and the batsman was stranded outside the crease.
Had he observed proceedings in the last three Tests, Watson would have realised that it is never a good idea to come out of the crease against Jadeja, who pushes the ball quick through the air, on these pitches and worse, play against the turn. Jadeja has been India's most consistent bowler pitching the balls unfailingly on the good length at middle or off stump.
Ed Cowan has looked the most compact among Australia's top four batsmen in the series. He has negotiated the fast bowlers effortlessly throughout the series by picking the length to perfection but looked uneasy against spinners. He has the tendency to get uptight against spin and tries to deploy the sweep to accumulate runs and thwart pressure. He often chooses the wrong length and ends up being comprehensively duped because he lacks the prerequisite skill to sweep. For the third time in the series he fell to Ashwin trying to sweep; the ball was floated up and pitched slightly outside leg stump and Cowan missed it and was cleaned up around the legs.
All is not 'well' with Maxwell
Glenn Maxwell may have been bought for more than a million dollars by Mumbai Indians for the sixth edition of the IPL, but the 24-year-old has a long way to go as far as Test cricket is concerned. On Friday, he clattered Pragyan Ojha for a six and a boundary in the same over shortly after arriving at the crease. At that stage, Australia were 117 for 5 and needed a fine partnership to put their innings on tracks. But oblivious to his team's situation and requirement, he showed an utter lack of application as he danced down the track to Jadeja and swung his bat only to give a simple catch to mid-on as Australia plunged into further crisis.
Siddle in the saddle
Siddle is three runs short of a maiden fifty in Test matches, and along with James Pattinson countered the spinners with assurance and frustrated India in the last hour of play. Siddle survived a couple of close lbw appeals but dug his heels in obstinately and registered his highest score in Tests. The 28-year-old was quick to commit to the front foot and played the ball with soft hands. While his batting counterparts in the team caved in, Siddle chose to stand up and throw down the gauntlet. Pattinson and he have added 41 runs for the ninth wicket off 100 balls. If both tailenders manage to stretch their partnership in the morning session of day two, it will have done a lot of good to a team struggling to save the ignominy of their first 0-4 whitewash since 1969-70.
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