After having their noses in front by the end of the second day of the first Test, India went through a horror phase in the opening session on Day 3, when they were dismissed for just 36 — their lowest ever Test total.
That set Australia a mere 90-run target to win, which they did with ease for an eight-wicket victory.
“What can I say that hasn’t been said of India’s meltdown in Adelaide? Watching the wickets tumble was surreal, each dismissal an action replay of the previous one. But we must not forget that as disappointing as it is for us to watch what unfolded, the players and the entire squad must be hurting badly,” Laxman wrote in his column for The Times of India on Wednesday.
On their 2018-19 tour Down Under, India had created history with its maiden Test series win on Australian soil. But the current series opened on a disastrous note. However, Laxman wrote it should not be forgotten that India were in the ascendancy for most of the six sessions in the game before the batsmen lost the plot in the second innings.
“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,” the former Test specialist wrote.
Australia pacer Josh Hazlewood took a five-for, while his fellow fast bowler Pat Cummins took four wickets as the hosts decimated India, taking eight wickets for 27 runs.
Laxman, though, stressed on the fact that there is a lot to play for with three Tests left to play in the four-match series.
“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,” he said.
Skipper Virat Kohli has returned home for the birth of his child, while paceman Shami has been ruled out after being hit on the hand to retire hurt (out) as the last man in India’s historic low of 36.
Laxman said the absence of two key players should be looked at as an opportunity for the others to step up.
“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,” Laxman further wrote.
He, however, did also point out the fact that the team needs to learn from Adelaide and not slip once they have played themselves into an advantageous position.
“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,” he mentioned.
Indian fielding also had nothing much to write home about, with catches being dropped regularly.
“Worse still, five catches were put down, which is a definite no-no, especially against a team of Australia’s caliber. India’s catching form has been very poor from the start of the tour. The lack of improvement is disappointing because this is a skill that can be honed through sustained practice,” said Laxman, who was an accomplished slip fielder during his time.
To conclude with a note on bowling, Laxman wrote: “The pacers were all outstanding, but particularly noteworthy were the efforts of Umesh Yadav and offie (Ravichandran) Ashwin.”
The second Test begins in Melbourne from December 26.