Australia stuck in a boom-or-bust bubble

8 October, 2017 1:23 AM

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Australia stuck in a boom-or-bust bubble

In Australia's imagination, this was a balmy Indian summer's day. The sun shone in all its splendour, baking the pitch to a medium to well-done shade of steak brown. The kind on which batsmen of all shapes, sizes and stature could enjoy a little 20-over swingabout.

It was overcast in Ranchi through the game and had been for two days in the build up to the game. The surface had spent a significant time under the multiple layers of sheets and upon exposure to the outside world, seemed slightly underdone. It was going to be sluggish, may be even two paced. The bounce was going to be uneven and spin was going to play a part. Even for a T20 game, the conditions demanded vigilance. A tour of India, with sinister spinners always lurking in the background at all times, always does. Except, Australia weren't willing to admit it.

And so purred along Aaron Finch, the side's best batsman on the tour so far. He raced away to 29 off 18 in Australia's PowerPlay score of 49 for 1. This was just before Yuzvendra Chahal came along and immediately turned his leg break. Hardik Pandya, India's fifth bowler - and they were playing exactly five frontline bowlers - had gone for 23 in his first two and struggled to adjust to his lengths. Here was a chance to consolidate and kick-on after another mini assessment of position.

But on the tour, Australia have found ruing batting collapses easier than finding ways to address them. In Chennai they lost 4 for 35. In Kolkata 5 for 42. Indore 5 for 51. Nagpur 5 for 37. Even in an abridged 20-over format of the game, they found a way to lose 7 for 59 before even the clouds bottling up all the moisture had had enough of the atrocity.

This latest collapse cannot be put down to naivety, or an extraordinary bowling display. It was a sheer refusal to accept that a more resourceful approach was available. This is quickly becoming a batting side that is incapable of thinking on its feet, or adjusting the tempo to suit the pitch conditions.

"It would have been nice to have Steven Smith's skill out there but also his game smarts in these conditions," said Aaron Finch after the game. Australia's opener incidentally had done well to rein in his own game and yet score at a strike-rate of 140. He stood still, and allowed the ball to come to him as opposed to his other colleagues, who went on a wild goose chase with the ball. That way, even when he was deceived by the slowness of the pitch or the bowler's change-ups, he adjusted to play the chip over the in-field. Once Kuldeep Yadav (2 for 16) was introduced, he curiously opted to play the sweep as opposed to his usual lofts over the 'v' against the spinners. It worked until the rigidity of his plans led him to his downfall.


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