The legendary VVS Laxman opined that India should not let a freakish 70 minutes define the tour, and stated that the last three Tests will be a true test of the team’s character, in the absence of both Shami and Kohli. Laxman also urged India to address long-standing issues nagging the side.
At the conclusion of Day 2 of the first Test, India looked like the only side capable of wrapping the game up on the third day, yet a truly mind-numbing first hour of play on Day 3 saw Australia walk back home with victory in two and a half days. Slumping to an all-time low with the bat is bound to create mental scars and make it difficult for the visitors to bounce back, but the absence of two key players - Virat Kohli and Mohammad Shami - means that India will have to stage a comeback being down on both confidence and experience.
In this regard, legendary Indian cricketer VVS Laxman believes that the next three Tests will be a true test of character for the Indian side.
"Only a quarter of the Test series is over. With three matches to go, there is all to play for. Speaking from experience, the team might feel like it’s carrying the weight on its shoulders, but it’s darkest before dawn. This is a true test of the team’s character and mettle, more so with the captain and Mohammed Shami unavailable from here on," Laxman wrote in his column for TOI.
"There is a great chance for new heroes to emerge, for men to put their hand up and rise to the occasion. It’s time to put Adelaide behind and target a fresh beginning.”
India held the upper hand at the end of Day 2, having a healthy 62-run lead in the kitty, yet their batsmen inexplicably fell like a pack of cards early on Day 3, collapsing for 36 to hand the Aussies the match. Rightfully, questions have been raised about the technique and application of the Indian batsmen, but Laxman believes it’s important to not let this ‘freak occurrence’ define the players.
"This freak occurrence should not define these players, who have played and performed enough times in all parts of the world. I am not saying dismiss what happened, but it’s imperative to put it in perspective. India had scrapped for six sessions to get their noses in front, only for a crazy 70-minute passage to undo the good work.”
However, despite consoling the team, Laxman noted that there were long-standing issues that got exposed once again, notably the bowlers failing to wrap up the tail. The 46-year-old called for these issues to be addressed and acknowledged, and not swept under the carpet in the name of ‘forgetting the game’.
“That said, 36 all out doesn’t mask old failings that continue to haunt the side. India should have posted at least 300 in the first innings, given they had reached 188 before the mix-up between Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane. Not for the first time in recent memory, the lower order failed to contribute anything of note overseas, and again, history repeated itself when Australia were allowed to escape from a tight corner with the bat – after all, they were struggling at 111 for seven – and get to within 53 runs of India’s tally.”