Australia may have dominated the Sydney Test for most part, but Virat Kohli's India would derive satisfaction from the fact that they managed to save the Test, their second draw in a row coming at the back of a hard-fought rescue act at Melbourne in the Boxing Day Test. Even though Australia still won the series by a comprehensive margin of 2-0, India would not be too disappointed with the result, particularly in the wake of many predicting a 4-0 whitewash for India. The great Glenn McGrath for once got his prediction wrong. The final scoreline was also an indication that India competed well in the series, a massive change from the previous series'.
The main reason why India failed to win at Sydney again despite putting up a stiff resistance was because their bowling was found out yet again. India made some changes to the bowling line-up bringing in Bhuvneshwar Kumar for the tired Ishant Sharma, but as expected it did not make much of a difference. Kumar's lack of match practice came to the fore during the course of the Test, as he looked far from penetrative. Also, unlike in England, the medium pacer did not get a lot of help from the pitch, which was expected since the pitches Down Under are not as conducive to Kumar's style of bowling. If anything, his comeback strengthened the lower-order batting as he played crucial knocks in both innings.
For Umesh Yadav, this was one Test he would like to get out of his memory as soon as possible. In the absence of Ishant, he had an opportunity to prove himself as the leader of the fast bowling attack. The manner in which he was carted all round the ground throughout the game was downright embarrassing. And his figures of 0 for 45 in three overs is something cricket fans are not likely to forget very soon. This was a Test match after all, a bowler having an economy rate of 15 is just not acceptable. Manoj Prabhakar conceded 42 runs in three overs back in 1996, but even that came in a 50 overs game.
Of all the bowlers on show at Sydney, Mohammed Shami and Ravichandran Ashwin were two who fared reasonably well. Shami's performance was a much-needed one for he hasn't looked the threatening bowler he was on debut more than a year back. The five-wicket haul should definitely give him a lot of confidence. Still, his control is something he needs to work on. Shami continued to spray it around at Sydney as well. As for Ashwin, he made good use of the conditions, about troubled the Aussie batsmen. But, he too could have displayed better control for there were a few boundary balls from him as well.
While India's batting was largely impressive, they still came second in comparison to the Aussies. While Virat Kohli and Lokesh Rahul batted exceedingly well to pull out of trouble, Murali Vijay played another knock which went a long way in India saving another Test, the exasperations continued. Rohit Sharma played two fluent knocks, either of which could have been converted into hundreds, but neither were. The comeback man Suresh Raina had Lokesh Rahul-type return, lasting only four balls across two innings. With so many worries to deal with, it was least surprising that India finished second best.
--By A Cricket Analyst