Ajinkya Rahane and India’s net gains

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India got past Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood bowling with the new ball and lo, they won the Test match. That’s reductive – but then so’s concluding a team can’t bat when it gets bowled out for 36.

Ajinkya Rahane made the most obviously telling contribution, run out for 112 in a match where only one other batsman passed 50. But then it must help a man to get regular net practice against bowlers as good as India’s. Good bowlers improve a side in ways beyond the most obvious one.

India have, historically, struggled to find a decent seam bowler, let alone a decent seam attack. This time around they appear to have travelled with at least a couple of them.

By the end of the Boxing Day Test, the tourists were without three of their top four pace bowlers and yet this appeared to have minimal impact on their ability to smother the hosts.

Australia have been bowled out three times this series with a highest total of 200. For all the drama of India’s collapse, that seems a bigger worry.

India’s batsmen failed in one very specific and actually quite understandable way – to great bowling with the new ball. Just a bit more luck (and they really didn’t have any) and they’d have been through that particular challenge and into a new one. Australia, by contrast, have been failing at everything.

Take their second innings in this Test, for example. In 103.1 overs they faced new ball and old, pace bowling and finger spin – and at no point did they do anything good. Wickets fell to all the bowlers while the run tally progressed with all the speed of a tired sloth cycling uphill with his brakes on.

How much of this is down to India’s great bowling and how much is down to Australia’s shit batting? We’d say ‘quite a lot’ and ‘a certain amount’ respectively, but it doesn’t really matter. What matters is the gap between the two and whether it will change. If it doesn’t, Australia are somehow in a position where it will be hard to win a Test despite fielding a set of bowlers who once bowled the same opposition out for 36.


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  1. I hope the England bowlers are taking notes.
    If Australia are as rubbish as this next year then we might actually win the Ashes.

    1. That is as long as we don’t pick a bowling attack of 4 right-arm fast medium seam bowlers and Joe Root.

  2. The 4 by Burns in the second innings was one of the worst 4s I’ve ever seen. Smith seems way out of form, Head looks OK and then does something dumb, Wade is a fighter but out of position and Marnus is looking like a normal test cricketer instead of Bradman like last year. Worrying times for Australia.

  3. I personally think that Australia are; A) Too big headed and they think they are better than they actually are, and B) they rely on certain people too much in their team, it seems like they feel that if Smith doesn’t score big, Warner isn’t there, and they don’t have their other big names there, then they are in a spot of bother. Their main problem is that they have all descended from criminals and I can’t see that as helping much at all.
    India, when getting out for 36, they were thinking about what on earth is going to happen to us without Kohli, but when the second test was played and as Ajinkya Rahane scored 112 they thought that they aren’t going to be as bad off as they thought.
    In turn India got more confident in themselves but not over confident, whereas Australia are just over confident as they always are and did fairly rubbish. An in an answer to the question at the end of the article, I think that is is ‘quite a lot’ in both cases.

    My advice is; Don’t be an Australian

    1. “I know you don’t do requests but…” is proving to be the new, “Please could you write something about…”

      1. Please could you write about the strange phenomenon of people getting out for exactly 199.

        Example? I won’t faff about; e.g. about Faf.

      1. He bowled 49 overs with his broken toes and finished with total figures of 4/105.
        A performance only worthy of a Lord Megachief of Gold.

  4. Batting’s generally been a struggle for both sides. The bowling’s been excellent and the pitches have had something for the bowlers.

    Rahanes match winning knock aside, the cameos by Gill and Pant were crucial. They were the only ones to attack the bowlers and shift momentum to the batting side. Wade tried something similar but played a shit shot and got out.

    The big surprise of course has been Smiths form. He’s genuinely struggling against Ashwin (who has been excellent) and the leg side theory that India seems to have adapted from New Zealand.

    Gotta say this has been one of the most interesting and absorbing test series in a long long time. What a great way to end such a shit year.

    1. Happy New Year Ged, and everyone else.

      Some things have changed now we’re in 2021, not all of them things I am in favour of, but one positive piece of news is that KLF videos are now on YouTube and their back catalogue is appearing on streaming.

      Also, The Great Gatsby is now public domain (at least in the US, I forget how all the international copyright rules work), which means – amongst other things – that we might be getting a version with The Muppets.

      See, change isn’t always bad….

  5. 2 things helped India in this game.

    1). Continuing to squeeze Australia by bowling hostile straight lines and relentlessly targeting the stumps with medium-to-high airspeed bowling (surprised why more teams don’t try that, there seems to be some 11th commandment that “in Australia you will always bowl top-of-off and nick off to slips”).
    2). Getting Shubman Gill in the side to provide some much-needed impetus at the top of the order (as opposed to Prithvi Shaw who has been a failure, the Ben Duckett of Indian cricket).

    After losing Umesh Yadav, the challenge will be for India to maintain 1) with the replacement seamer (Saini/Thakur/Natarajan), and keep Shubman in the side as per 2), and not drop him just because Rohit is back. Instead, drop Agarwal or Vihari.

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