Australia skipper Tim Paine, who lost his second successive Test series to India at home, conceded that the Australian side getting ‘found out’ in key moments has now become a worrying pattern. Paine expressed disappointment in the loss, which was Australia’s first at the Gabba in 32 years.
Despite somehow finding themselves on level terms with an India ‘B’ side after three Tests, Australia were confident of dusting aside a further weakened Indian side at ‘fortress Gabba’, where the Kangaroos had lost last a game 32 years ago. The Test went as per plan for a day and a half before the duo of Sundar and Thakur threw spanner in the hosts’ works, but defending 328 on Day 5, Paine & Co. still fancied their chances to take 10 wickets, particularly with the pitch crumbling.
However, to their utter horror, India went one better in Sydney as yet again led by Rishabh Pant and Shubman Gill, the visitors torched the Australian bowlers to remarkably chase down the target in the final hour. None of the Australian bowlers barring Pat Cummins stepped up to the plate, and the over-reliance on the world’s number one bowler was exploited by the visitors, who put on a performance for the ages.
Gabba was the third instance in the last 18 months of Australia throwing away a game they should easily have won, and speaking post-match, skipper Paine conceded that his side now has developed the tendency to bottle matches under pressure.
"Absolutely disappointed. We came here to win the Test and win the series, it's been a bit of a trend that we were found wanting in the key moments and completely outplayed by a tough Indian side that fully deserves the win,” Paine said in the post match presentation.
The Aussies, after taking a 33-run lead in the first innings, set India a target of 328 to win, and Paine revealed that his side were willing to risk a loss to have an opportunity to walk away with the Test and the series. The hosts had more than enough time to bowl out the visitors on the final day, yet, as it turned out, Rahane’s men showed unflinching courage to overcome the Aussie challenge, going as far as putting the body on the line. The Aussie skipper was full of praise for the fight and bravery shown by the Indians.
“We wanted to set a bit over 300, dangle a carrot to win the Test match and win the series. We might have had another 20 overs had it not rained. But India turned up and put their bodies on the line. [Reviews] are part of the job. sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. But all credit to India, our bowlers threw everything at them."
Despite boasting of a full-strength side throughout the series - unlike India and unlike in 2018 - the Aussies were outplayed by Rahane’s men over the course of the four Tests, something which no one saw coming, given the sheer amount of injuries and misfortune India suffered. Paine admitted that his men were well and truly outplayed by the visitors, but insisted that the team will now immediately shift the focus to the South Africa tour next month.
“I think there's lots of things we'll look back at, but what's done is done. We need to look forward now, there's a big series in South Africa coming up, we've been outplayed by the better side in this series. I think we got about what we wanted in the end.”