Australia find themselves in a tricky position. India had made their life more difficult. Here’s why.
Australia find themselves in an uncomfortable position. Not only did they lose the Brisbane Test unexpectedly but now find themselves in a world of trouble. Unless South Africa are benevolent, this is provided Australia tour, the team from down under will find themselves out of the reckoning come the inaugural ICC World Test Championship final at Lord’s in June.
While the International Cricket Council (ICC) announced a pushing back of the dates of the final by a week, it will not help Australia’s cause. Lulled into thinking that they had it in the bag, Australia were upstaged three times in the four-Test series. Had India shown a bit more wherewithal in Adelaide when they had a lead, Australia’s fate could have been even worse, as hard as it is to imagine.
Now Australia find themselves undone by both, India and New Zealand. New Zealand have been buoyant at home and India left Australia shell-shocked by the manner in which they showed chutzpah to bounce back to level the series in Melbourne, negate Australia in Sydney and then steal a win in Brisbane at the eleventh hour.
This has meant that despite the change in the points system from points tally to percentage of points, Australia will have to fight tooth and nail to win their place back at the top and a spot in the final of the inaugural championship match.
The problem for Australia is compounded by the pandemic concern as they have been reluctant to commit to the tour, even engaging the idea at one point of having South Africa over instead. Should Australia forfeit the tour, they might have to deal with more than just the Future Tours Programme. They will miss out on a berth to the World Test championship.
Questions have been raised with Australia’s quarters about the strength in Australia’s batting with several players still looking to find a hold in the lineup. Their bowling, by their own commentators, has been suggested to be one dimensional and the dearth in their spinning options might be catching up with them. Tim Paine’s leadership has come under the scanner for a job no one seems to covet or apply themselves for. Australia might be grateful in the end that the challenge is against South Africa and not any other team.
South Africa have not been in the best shape themselves, financially, administratively and on the field. Their returns have been meagre at best and might seem like easy pickings after the display in Pakistan when South Africa lost the initiative they had garnered at the end of day one. The second day’s match will have given Australia hope even as England have arrived in India for a four-Test series.
It will be interesting, see-saw battle, one imagines between the other two of the supposed big three. The question though remains, can Australia still join the party after the brutal handing out of the humble pie?