India aim survival, Australia eye series triumph
Melbourne: Stung by two successive defeats and hit by a dressing room unrest, India go into the must-win third cricket Test against Australia here tomorrow seeking to salvage a tour which seems to be falling apart both on and off the field.
With a 2-0 lead in hand, Australia need merely a draw to regain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy while India have to win both the remaining two Tests to hold on to the trophy.
The trophy aside, India would be looking to avoid yet another overseas Test-series loss, a situation which is familiar territory for Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men.
The hosts won by 48 runs in Adelaide and by four wickets in Brisbane and can win back the Border-Gavaskar Trophy here at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Stretching back to England in 2011-12, India have lost their last five overseas Test series without exception. The last time this happened was when they were minnows and had just started playing Test cricket.
They lost six consecutive overseas Test series starting from their inaugural tour to England in 1932 until the first West Indies tour in 1953, a run spanning defeats in 12 Tests out of 21 played.
But a lot has changed for Indian cricket since. They are not the lowly ranked new-comers in this sport anymore. They are the alpha male of cricket, dominating the game outside the boundary ropes.
It is only to be expected then that they should go on to perform equally well on the field, irrespective of conditions. Yet, results haven’t matched expectations for the past four seasons.
During this time, the golden generation of the past two decades has either retired or been brushed aside, and the transition got underway. Even that latter bit is coming to an end now, as the Indian team prepares to play the last two of their consecutive run of overseas Tests in a calendar year.
From South Africa to New Zealand to England, it has been a steep learning curve with important lessons at every stage. The team management has proclaimed many times that they have been assimilated as part of the process. Apart from the Lord’s win, the outcome hasn’t changed much.
Landing in Australia then, the Indian team tried something different, raising their aggression on the pitch. For the first three days of this series, in respect to late Phillip Hughes, emotion tided over proceedings.