Former Australian cricketer Tom Moody has been very impressed with India’s bench strength in bowling after the opening Test win at Adelaide. India’s four-man attack of Ishant Sharma, Mohammad Shami, Jasprit Bumrah and lone spinner R Ashwin proved to be too strong for the the weakened Australian batting in the first Test.
But the former Sri Lanka coach insists that in Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav and Kuldeep Yadav, India still have bowlers who can make an immediate impact if and when they are playing in the eleven.
The 53-year-old also felt that India was clear favourites in the series since the Australian team was going through a transition phase while the visitors were already on a high and have the momentum going their way.
Everyone is talking about the best bowling attack that India have brought to Australia this time. How impressed have you been?
For me, it’s not just about the four bowlers on the field (who took 20 wickets in Adelaide). The big advantage India have nowadays while traveling overseas is the bowling bench they have got. You can argue the case that Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav, as well as Kuldeep Yadav, could all have played in the Adelaide eleven. So, it’s not just the bowling attack that is picked, but the whole bowling unit they have got on tour, that could easily be as strong with any other combination you go with. It is a terrific advantage to have when you are traveling overseas and you come across different conditions (at different venues) or when you have to rest a player because of soreness in back-to-back Tests as the case might be.
What stood out in India’s bowling attack in Adelaide?
I think the discipline that they have had from both ends. They really bowled well in partnerships. R Ashwin bowled a huge number of overs like Nathan Lyon did from one end, but it is the discipline in different partnerships that they have had (which made the difference). It helped maintain pressure from the very first over of the Australian innings. This was a Test match with one of the slowest run-rates in some time and a lot of that has to do with excellent bowling from both sides. India, in particular, bowled exceptionally well in conditions that they are not entirely used to bowling in, day in day out. It is a credit to the way they approached this Test and the lengths they adjusted to be as effective as they were.
How big a mismatch is there between the Indian and Australian batting line-ups?
At end of the day, Australia’s batting line-up is in a transitional phase for obvious reasons. So it is very hard to compare the batting line-ups. If Steve Smith and David Warner were in this top six, it would have looked completely different. In a matter of time, that is going to be the case but it is not so this summer. So Australia are playing a number of batsmen who have only just started experiencing Test cricket. Whereas India have a batting line-up that has got a lot of Test experience.
Having said that, the Indian batting line-up has a bit of vulnerability as well. Rohit Sharma has been in and out of this Test squad for a number of years, Murali Vijay played in Adelaide only because of Prithvi Shaw’s ankle injury, and Shaw himself is new to Test cricket. Ajinkya Rahane has had a difficult 2018, but came to the party in the second innings, and batted beautifully. So, it is not like the Indian top six is absolutely concrete. There are a few personal challenges that are going on within that batting order.
A word on Cheteshwar Pujara’s batting in Adelaide.
Pujara was the difference, where he absorbed a huge number of deliveries for a long period of time. But in doing so he has managed to produce a score of significance in both innings, which was the difference between the two sides again. Umsan Khawaja batted for a long time and was on a similar path to Pujara, but failed to convert. And in the second innings, Shaun Marsh batted well for his 60, but failed to convert it to a big hundred. Australia didn’t have that one player who batted and batted through for a long time, which India did in Pujara.
How does this Indian win in Adelaide set up the series going ahead?
It is set up very well. In my view, India came into this series as favourites. I know a lot of people felt that Australia were slightly ahead because they are playing at home. But their circumstances are very different. History cannot be taken into consideration here given where Australian cricket is at the moment and cannot be compared to where Indian cricket is at the moment.
India carried in momentum, confidence and a settled squad, whereas Australia are unsettled and unsure as to what is the right combination. The only thing they are sure of is who are their four best bowlers.