Kolkata: The invincible Team India boat has been hit hard. It would be unfair to say it has sunk though. A humiliating 333-run defeat in the hands of Steve Smith and his men, raises a lot of questions. There will be scrutiny as to why India almost surrendered before Australia in the first Test at Pune. What really went wrong? To be fair, India lost to a better team and even skipper Virat Kohli endorsed that at the post-match press conference. But in one sense, this loss should be a blessing in disguise for Kohli’s team.
After remaining unbeaten in 19 Tests, a huge defeat leads to some reality check, which Kohli himself admitted. Yes, batting let the team down and the Indians had no clue to an unknown spinner like Steve O’Keefe who grabbed 12 scalps in the match to help his team go one up in the Test series. Among the various factors that need to be addressed, the Pune defeat makes us stand up and acknowledge that nobody is invincible. Kohli must be feeling like Steve Waugh, whose team’s winning streak was given a severe jolt by Sourav Ganguly’s Team India years back.
The so-called predictions made by former Indian cricketers including Ganguly and India discard, Harbhajan Singh, have actually boomeranged. Smith’s men are here not as mere tourists, but they mean serious business. The Pune fiasco also puts Kohli under a severe test. Beating England, New Zealand and Bangladesh at times looks easier than getting the better of India’s arch-rival Australia. Losing the opening Test of a series under home conditions pushes the team management to introspect. How good are we against quality bowlers? Did our batsmen leave enough runs on the board for our bowlers to fight?
Not really. Even on the field, Team India was ordinary. When you give chances after chances to a world-class batsman like Smith, you certainly don’t deserve to win, as Kohli also pointed out.
One major factor that has done the team in is the attitude! The body language of the players wasn’t inspiring enough. On the contrary, the Aussies looked aggressive and determined to make a point out here in India. The Indians’ shoulders were dropping on the field and despite some brilliance here and there, as a unit, Team India faltered.
But there’s no point throwing our hands in despair. This team has the potential to bounce back under a captain who just hates to lose and it would be left to Kohli to back his boys and come back hard in Bengaluru. Kohli as a captain, perhaps faces his first real challenge: To boost up the morale of his team that has faced a humiliating defeat after staying unbeaten in 19 Tests.
Hopefully, we will see a better team effort from the second Test, but a poor performance like this should send alarming signals to the Indian dressing room. Yes, no team is invincible!