Sydney: At the pre-match press conference, Australian captain Steve Smith thought the pitch for the fourth Test was dry but was a nice track for batting. Half and hour before the toss, Michael Clarke in his pitch report took the analysis one step further by stating that not only was it dry, but it will also aid spin quite early.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar bowls on Day 1 of the Sydney Test yesterday
India would have surely known at first sight of the pitch that it demanded more consistency from the bowlers that any other pitch in the series. India would also have figured out that with a workload of 125 overs in the past three weeks and no bowling in the nets leading up to Test, India's most consistent bowler Ishant Sharma was unlikely to play.
India decided to fill the void by playing an extremely undercooked Bhuvneshwar Kumar. The gentle outswing bowler had barely bowled more than a handful of overs in the nets and was well short of a gallop.
Furthermore, India should have discovered that swing was almost non-existent at Sydney and with Kumar's pace not spiking over 130 km/h, it was a huge task for him to contain the Australian batting line up.
By the end of the day Kumar had failed to take a wicket, bowl economically and in just his third over with the second new ball, the 'keeper was up to the stumps. Picking him was a horrible blunder.
It is worth wondering why Varun Aaron was left out if skipper Virat Kohli was still going to persist with this aggressive group of fast bowlers. India had clearly picked Shami because of his ability to reverse swing the ball. Then wouldn't a fresher Aaron have been a better option than the jaded Yadav?
On top of all this, with Ravichandran Ashwin getting a few balls to spin sharply on Day One, wasn't it worth playing a second spinner? Suresh Raina did end up bowling 10 overs.
Kohli had stated before the Test that he had time to reflect on his captaincy in Adelaide. One of the first things that would have crossed his mind was the selection of the starting XI. Couple of Tests later, Kohli will have realised that selecting eleven men is harder than it looks.
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