Never mind the DRS controversy, the Bangalore Test is still a perfect advertisement for Test cricket, if only we choose to see it that way.
Any India vs. Australia cricket game is guaranteed to be a closely contested affair. However, this rivalry seems to escalate to even greater heights when played at the M. Chinnaswamy stadium in Bangalore. Over the years, the stadium has witnessed many memorable moments between the two teams. From Sachin Tendulkar’s masterful 214 in 2010 to Michael Clarke’s 151 on debut in 2004, and Michael Kasprowicz skittling out half the Indian side, way back in 1998, this stadium has seen it all.
The latest encounter between the two sides at the venue certainly did not disappoint us either. India’s victory in the second Test implies that the four-match series now stands perfectly poised at 1-1. But regardless of who goes on to win the series, the game of cricket is certain to be the ultimate winner.
For the greater good of the game
Over the past decade or so, home teams dominating the visitors has become the norm in Test cricket; and although this is a commendable feat on part of the home team, it has led to some one-sided contests in the past.
The hegemony of the host was something that needed to be challenged for the greater good of the game - to have more evenly contested encounters and more importantly, to rekindle the overall interest in the longest format of the game.
Moreover, Australia’s performance against India in Bangalore comes on the back of their loss to South Africa at home. While the Proteas did remarkably well to take down the Aussies in their own backyard, the Aussies themselves did extremely well to dominate India for the most part of the Bangalore Test, until their hard work was undone in the last one and a half days.
A great leveler:-
Australia’s performance in the ongoing series, so far, has come at a time when Test cricket looked set for a period of Indian dominance. Not so long ago, the Aussies had found themselves in the midst of a major slump, following their away defeat to an average Sri Lankan side and a home defeat to South Africa. India, on the other hand, had looked invincible, ever since they attained the No.1 ranking in Tests.
However, the way the second Test played out, the reputations of both the teams are on the line in the remainder of the series.
In a way, the pitch for the second Test has set the stage for the see-saw, yet balanced contest that was on display. Unlike some of its predecessors, the pitch in Bangalore assisted spinners, fast bowlers, and batsmen in turns, across sessions. Not only did this add to the fairness of the contest, it also made for an enjoyable watch, from a spectators’ point of view.
In recent times, where, the future of Test cricket has been questioned, owing to the rising popularity of the shorter formats, contests like this should become the norm, rather than the aberration.
The bigger picture:-
No meeting between India and Australia is somehow complete without a touch of controversy and the most recent encounter did not disappoint on that front either.
This time around, Australian skipper Steve Smith has landed in the eye of a storm following his decision to seek advice from his dressing room regarding a DRS review. Smith’s actions were brought to the notice of the umpires by his Indian counterpart Virat Kohli, and Smith has labeled his own actions as a moment of ‘brain fade’.
Further, although there is no denying that Smith’s actions were against the spirit of the game, more importantly, this incident is at the risk of eclipsing an epic contest, between the two.
As things stand, everyone is so caught up in the ‘DRS-gate’ incident that they already seem to have forgotten the events that preceded and followed the controversy. For, prior to the incident, we witnessed a Test match wherein momentum swung like a pendulum in each session, until the very end.
While day one of the second Test belonged to Nathan Lyon, as he bamboozled the Indian batsmen with his off-spin, the second day belonged to the Australian batsmen, who dominated the Indian bowling. Josh Hazlewood continued Australia’s dominance in the game, with a fiery spell with the ball, on the third day, before Cheteshwar Pujara set the tone for India’s comeback into the match.
Finally, just as Australia looked set to take an unassailable 2-0 lead on, Ravichandran Ashwin had other ideas as he picked up 6 wickets on day four, leading the way for India to complete a win that will live in the memory.
Apart from the DRS controversy, this match still remains a perfect advertisement for test cricket.
Now, the onus is on us and the way in which we choose to remember the Bangalore test. We can either choose to remember the enthralling contest that ensued between India and Australia, which was certainly in keeping with the spirit of the game, or we can choose to remember the one moment which was against the spirit of the game.
Needless to say, if one only looks at things the right way we shall see why the game of cricket will be the ultimate winner in this duel.