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5 Things the second test taught us


India_Australia_Cricket1Another Test overseas, another defeat for India. They now trail Australia 2-0 needing to win the last two Tests to draw the series. Thoughts of a series win overseas have gone, again. There were some decent individual performances, especially from the batsmen, but Australia managed to wrest control back on the third day. Having posted 408 in their first innings, India had Australia 247 for six. A first innings lead was a real possibility. Steve Smith and Mitchell Johnson took the game by the scruff of the neck and never let go again. So, what have we learned?

Indians bowl bouncers too

Much of the pre-series talk was of how well the India bowlers would cope with fast, short pitched bowling. On day three of this Test, Varun Aaron and Ishant Sharma peppered Mitchell Johnson to such an extent that umpire Ian Gould had to step in and tell them to calm it down. One of those bouncers hit Johnson on the head. He went on to score a 93 ball 88 in a partnership with Steve Smith that was worth 148 runs, the highest of the match. Maybe it wasn’t such a smart move. What is certain is that Ishant and Aaron are capable of giving batsmen the hurry up. That bodes well for the future.

Mitchell Johnson can still win matches

There is a stunning correlation between Mitchell Johnson doing well with the ball after he has scored runs with the bat. After his swashbuckling heroics with willow in hand he then ripped out the Indian middle order with three wickets in 10 deliveries. After his performances against England and South Africa earlier in the year Johnson has not found the same stellar form, but the second innings of this match he was back to somewhere close to his best. Johnson has always been a bowler that has put together amazing spells, the issue in the past has been his form in-between has been woeful. Now he is at least keeping it reasonably tight when he is not tearing through teams.

Rohit is still No-hit

Rohit Sharma made 288 runs in his first two innings in Test cricket against the West Indies. His Test average reached 300 before he was dismissed for 14 in his third innings against South Africa. In the 14 innings since those matches against the West Indies he has managed just 282 runs, six less than he scored in his first two digs. His Test average against anyone other than the West Indies is just 21 and he has passed fifty once in seven matches. He may have scored 264 in an ODI, but he is far from the finished article in Test cricket. The fact that Rohit has talent is talked of so often that it is a Twitter hashtag and a running joke. It will be a shame if he can’t make that talent count.

Test captaincy is hard

MS Dhoni returned to this side, but he did not bring any good fortune with him. Dhoni has captained India overseas 29 times. He has won just six of those games, and just one of those was in the last three years. As his bowlers went at five an over before his side collapsed in the second innings to set up a straight forward chase for the Australians, he must have wondered why this format presents so many issues for his side. They have excellent batsmen, reasonable bowlers and are a capable fielding side. Perhaps it is more remarkable that they aren’t winning the odd game.

Test captaincy is easy

Steve Smith ascended to the Test captaincy after it became clear that Michael Clarke’s layoff was going to be a lengthy one. He scored a hundred, marshalled his bowlers well and won the game. Many have said that maintaining form and captaining a side is hard work. For Smith it was all too easy. His form is such at the moment that when left the field of play on day two on 65 not out his hundred felt a certainty. His smiling face as he spoke to the media was enough to melt the heart of the most harden cynic. Everything that Smith does is making cricket fans smile. It is certain that sterner challenges await, but right now Smith is like a pig in muck.

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