By Ian Ransom
MELBOURNE, Dec.30 (Reuters) – Australia head to third test against India in desperate search of answers to their stick problems and with fingers crossed this sidelined opener David Warner will be ready to come back to the side in Sydney.
Australia’s sub-par strike in the first test was overshadowed by the three-day victory at the Adelaide Oval, but there was no hiding behind the bowlers in the eight-wicket loss to Melbourne which tied the four-test series 1-1. .
Skitted for 195 in the opening innings and hitting only 200 in the second due to tail resistance, Australia failed to record half a century for the first time in a home test match since 1988 when they were defeated by a mighty West Indies. team.
Indian bowlers adhered to simple plans – attacking the stumps and creating scopes on the legs – but the home team’s beaters seemed helpless.
Steve Smith, the world‘s highest-ranked test batsman, admitted on Tuesday he allowed Ravichandran Ashwin to “dictate the terms” after being fired for a duck and a run by the series spinner.
Marnus Labuschagne, who racked up points against New Zealand and Pakistan last summer at home, has also been stifled by India’s disciplined attack.
Australia captain Tim Paine said after the loss the team became hesitant about first-class bowling and needed to put themselves more in the spotlight.
Former skipper Ricky Ponting said they hit like they were “afraid” to come out.
“They have to show more intention,” he told a Cricket Australia website.
“They have to get them faster than two and a half times because what we’ve seen from Adelaide so far here, if they try to apply and beat for long stretches, they haven’t. been good enough to do it. “
Warner isn’t sure he’s in good shape for Sydney as he recovers from a groin problem, but opener Joe Burns looks set to be knocked out after a horror test in Melbourne where he completed a total of four races and appeared as a nervous wreck.
There are few options to replace him, however, with Will Pucovski uncapped, a huge risk due to his history of concussion issues.
India took the win with a 326 first round, anchored by a glittering century by substitute captain Ajinkya Rahane, but the result might have been different if Australia had held their catch.
After knocking down seven at the MCG and recovering Rahane twice, the team’s bowlers will demand more on-field support at the MCG when the third test begins on January 7. (Edited by Peter Rutherford)