Hyderabad: Time flies. Things change. Tides rise and fall. There are centuries, there are wickets. There are moments of glories, there are failures.
After a saga of hits and misses for both the Indian and the Australian camps, Test match number 4 is knocking on the doors. And while this match might be inconsequential to the overall results of the series, yet, thereâ€™s much pride for the Indian cricket team to salvage. And then, thereâ€™s a point to be proven as well. For the Australians, itâ€™s more than they could have bargained for. No, really, it is.
Letâ€™s start with how this series has been for the hosts thus far. It certainly didnâ€™t begin on a happy note for them, not even an iota. They were just grappling from an unbelievable loss — Phil Hughesâ€™ devastating death.
No one knew whether they would take field. No one knew when they would recover. No one knew what the repercussions would be. We assumed that the Australian brand cricket had breathed its last. But then, it has always risen to the occasion. This time too, the Australian team didnâ€™t disappoint. The beginning was great â€“ bouncers scared the bowlers and fielders more than the batsmen.
First match, fiercely fought by the Indians, but the hosts managed to pocket that one. The second match, original skipper was out with an injury, and the stand-in Steven Smith just proved to be spectacular. With the second Test in hand too, it meant that Australia wouldnâ€™t lose the series. Third match drawn and that was about it — a series win from being down in the dumps.
For the Indians on the other hand, Australian tours have always been a challenge. This time, they landed sans their regular skipper MS Dhoni, who was nursing an injury. In his absence, the responsibility was thrust on the shoulders of Virat Kohli, who performed admirably, one must admit.
Since MS was available from the next match, Virat stepped down and allowed the skipper to be back on duty. And it backfired. Backfired twice. One loss and one draw. And MS decided to call it quits. Just like that. With â€˜immediate effectâ€™ that too. Amidst rumours of spats between Dhawan and Kohli, the Indian dressing room didnâ€™t paint a happy picture.
The series has had highs and lows, but the Australian team has been clinical. Australia has always produced amazing leaders. When Clarke led, he led by example. Steven Smith proved heâ€™s no different. Heâ€™s been an aggressive and thinking captain. Heâ€™s performed. Heâ€™s won. The Indians on the other hand have been unstable. Swinging like a pendulum between two captains. But then, the biggest difference has been the lower order batting prowess.
The Australians irked the Indian battery no end, their tail, scoring 784 runs, in reply to which its Indian counterparts managed only 389. You see the difference, donâ€™t you?
With the fourth Test about to be played on Tuesday, the Indians would look at working only on one number, that number.