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5 Things the third test taught us

Australia v India-3rd Test-cricket-reviewThe 3rd Australia vs India Test has ended. With it we saw the end of an era. MS Dhoni has decided he wants to dedicate more time to advertising campaigns and the IPL so he has quit Tests. India managed a draw, which bearing in mind their run of results in Australia represents a massive improvement. Virat Kohli scored another hundred, Ajinkya Rahane got one too. Steve Smith almost scored a double. Oh, and Shane Watson scored a fifty before he got out LBW, he was delighted. 

So it is that time again. Let’s try and work out what we have learnt from these five days at the MCG. 

MS Dhoni was right to go, but he was a bit late

When he called time on his Test career MS Dhoni was right to do so. His captaincy had added little for almost three years, and but for the lack of obvious replacements and the intervention of the President of the BCCI he would have gone long ago. Now that Virat Kohli has shown that he is capable of leading this side Dhoni’s position was pretty much untenable. When he went he handed over the side to a young batsman at the top of his game who will take the team in a new direction. Kohli the captain may not always get things right, but he will always be entertaining. 

Some mid series retirements are “different” 

This time last year Graeme Swann decided that he had given all that he could to England and he was retiring. This angered many who claimed that retiring in the middle of a series was “weak” or other such pejorative words. Swann left a side that didn’t have anyone close to his level of experience that had lost a series. When Dhoni did the same thing there was no outpouring of anger towards him. People thought it was fair enough that he felt that he could give no more. Neither man did anything wrong, it is for every sportsperson to decide when it is time to call it a day. It is always interesting when the same action generates a complete different response. 

Steve Smith is sub-funk 

Steve Smith instructed his side to carry on batting on the fifth morning when the lead was already well over 300. Even when rain shortened the last day he left his batsmen out there longer. After the Michael Clarke era where bravado filled declarations became the norm this was much more traditional. A draw was enough for Australia to regain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. Smith put the series win ahead of a Test match win. We have seen already that Smith is his own man, that he wants to do things his way makes you even more excited about him as an international captain. 

Ashwin needs some help

Ravichandran Ashwin will never rip through sides with fizzing off breaks. He needs to build pressure to take wickets. This series he has the lowest economy rate of any Indian bowler. At the same time he has had the most deliveries between wickets. As he bowled tight lines that made the aggressive Australian top order be patient he was let down by his fellow bowlers. As soon as Ashwin had strung together some dot balls someone at the other end released the pressure with a poor delivery that went for four. The bowling from India has not been good enough in this series, whether there is anyone outside the team that can do better is up for debate. 

Ryan Harris is as good as it gets

This was classic Ryan Harris. He bowled with pace, accuracy and penetration throughout. He scored 74 runs in the first innings to help put Australia in a position from which it was impossible to lose. His body is his only real challenge in international cricket, but it seems to be holding up OK right now. Mitchell Johnson may get the headlines for his thunderbolts, but without Harris he could not do what he does. As Dan Liebke pointed out during this Test, the fact that Dale Steyn is considered a better bowler than Harris shows just what an amazing talent the South African is. 

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