Allan Border was laying it on thick when he provided a scathing indictment of what he thought of Australia’s A performance against the touring Indian team. But why is the performance of the second string team bothering the former Australian captain when it comes to India?
Despite Ben McDermott and Jack Wildermuth’s centuries, Border lashed out at what he called ordinary bowling, fielding and captaincy as Hanuma Vihari and Rishabh Pant brought up centuries in India’s tour practice match ahead of the four-Test series. While it was only an Australia A match, this is why the former captain is really antsy.
Tour matches are often signals of the way tours generally tend to go. Meant as a warm-up for visiting teams, these matches are expected to be fortresses for the home team, showing off their upcoming talent, putting a barrier for the visitors from strengthening their game plans and even possibly revealing a candidate or two who might raise his hand and claim a spot in the mainstream matches.
Border would not have been pleased- proud captain as he was in his day – that the Australian team allowed key members of the Indian line up to gain some confidence under their belt. It is no hidden secret that Pant is under immense pressure as the team’s wicket-keeper following in the footsteps of Mahendra Singh Dhoni. While Vihari has quietly made a name of himself, much has been talked about the Indian cricket team with the fact that Virat Kohli will not have a longer role to play in the Test series and there is still a shadow of doubt about Rohit Sharma’s fitness.
To have given than two of India’s middle-order some succour ahead of the all-important Test series – India won the last won down under, their first in seventy years, would not have pleased the former captain at all.
While Australia are expected to be better placed this time around, they have problems of their own which is why Border and those in the Australian cricket fraternity would have hoped to keep India quiet for as long as possible in the lead up of what is expected to be a tight-fisted contest all the way through. Any inch of acceding could prove the difference between the two teams who have fairly decent bowling line ups but somewhat shaky batting line ups, despite each boasting a star or two.
While India were chasing the leather than making Australia do the work in the one-day internationals, their return to winning ways in the Twenty20 internationals would have bolstered the morale of the visitors. To allow them more momentum is not what Border wants, particularly while presenting a more fragile bench strength of the hosts albeit in a tour match, even with Steve Smith in fairly ominous form.