India's inability to strike in the opening Test of an away series continues to be a dark, ugly spot on this otherwise formidable cricket team. Of the last five Test tours, only once have India been able to draw first blood -- against the West Indies in June.
A victory over the Australians yesterday would have been incredible for Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men simply because no team has chased a target like 292 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in recent years. But India had the ammunition to get close. Instead, they crashed to their fifth consecutive overseas Test defeat.
India's strong batting line-up that includes six experienced hands boasts of a total of 50,000 plus Test runs. Sure, batting in the fourth innings involves a different kind of skill, mental acumen and some luck, but the fact that India's batters could only muster a first innings score of 282 in response to the lesser experienced Australian team's 333 means that there are more than mere chinks in their armour.
Australia has an exciting pace attack which thrived on a wicket that suited them. At the same time, the track was no foe to batsmen. India's lack of nous in this department of strength contributed greatly to their defeat.
It was most disappointing to see Virat Kohli not cashing in on his chance to make an impression as a Test player. At the end of five Tests, his run tally is only 202. Dhoni's captaincy was found to be defensive by experts in some portions of the game when he allowed easy singles, and the bowlers might probably want to hang their heads in shame for allowing Australia (179-8 overnight) end up with a second innings score of 240. And Rahul Dravid will forever rue his dropped catch that allowed Mike Hussey to prosper.
India have only three days to cover the grey spots before the Sydney Test starts on January 3. Among other things, alacrity is the need of the hour.