INDIA TOUR OF AUSTRALIA, 2018-19
Cricbuzz Staff •
“We are really disappointed. We know we had some guys missing but we honestly felt in Australia, we could beat India” © Getty
Tim Paine felt that the Adelaide Test loss against India was the turning point of the series as they went down 1-2 with rain saving the hosts from more misery in Sydney. Australia threatened to take the Adelaide contest away from the visitors before losing the game by 31 runs. They levelled the series at Perth but allowed India to take the lead again in Melbourne.
“I think the obvious one was the Adelaide Test. We honestly feel that we let that Test slip,” Paine said on Monday (January 7). “We thought we had a number of opportunities during that Test to go well ahead of the game and when those key moments came up India outplayed us to be honest.
“Looking back now, if we’d won that Test, win Perth, outplayed in Melbourne then a washout it could have been 2-1 the other way. It’s funny, in a big series of four Tests you go back to a couple of key moments in the very first Test where we let ourselves down, or India outplayed us, and you get to the end of the series and it’s really hard to take.”
Australia were without their two key batsmen – Steve Smith and David Warner – but had their frontline bowlers at their disposal throughout the four Tests. India outbowled the pace troika of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins and offspinner Nathan Lyon to seize key moments. Paine felt Indian batsmen stepping up and scoring runs at crucial junctures in the series is something their batsmen can learn from. “We are really disappointed. We know we had some guys missing but we honestly felt coming into the series that in Australia in particular that we could beat India. But throughout the series, more often than not, when those big moments came up, Virat has scored runs, Pujara has scored runs, Bumrah has bowled a great spell and we couldn’t quite get through those moments,” he said.
“That’s how you win Test matches. That’s why India won this series, their best players stood up in the big moments or when they were falling behind in a game one of their good players dragged them back into the contest – or when they were in front of the game they put their foot on us and put us out of the game like they did in Sydney and Melbourne.
“Our bowlers at times bowled really well in this series, at times they didn’t. Sometimes that was due to the pressure they were put under by the Indian batsmen. The group of bowlers we have in this team (has) been fantastic for quite a while now. They didn’t have their absolute best series but it’s not easy at this level and that can happen.”
Paine, however, walked away with positives as well from the series ahead of the two-Test series against Sri Lanka at home. The captain was particularly impressed with the way the inexperienced players like Marcus Harris and Travis Head, at the Test level, strung in a few performances.
“This (Indian) attack was seriously good, don’t think in Australia we’ve given them enough credit for how relentless – the three quicks bowl pretty good pace, they are relentless in pressure, so it was hard work batting against their attack for seasoned Test players. For Marcus and Travis to show they have got the game to make runs against the best attack in the world is a real positive.
“It’s the experience at this level that those guys have got now that they wouldn’t have got. If we get to the Ashes next year and Marcus, Travis and Marnus are playing they understand now the pressure and magnitude of the situation on them. Don’t think we can look to England just yet, need to play Sri Lanka first, and that will be another tough series, but there are some positives in getting these guys some experience against an absolute high-quality attack.”
Paine did concede the concern in his batsmen not getting hundreds.
“Clearly, we know we aren’t going to win too many Tests without hundreds so it’s a huge focus of any Test batsman – it’s what you are judged on, if you are batting top six in Test cricket you need to be scoring hundreds, we know that. Our players know that. For some of the guys in their third, fourth Test maybe it’s hard to look and say ‘I haven’t scored any hundreds’ but Marcus and Travis showed, and Marnus in the first innings, that they can score runs at Test cricket. Sometimes it’s difficult when it seems so far away, but we have three players there who are one innings away from really breaking through. We know they have the ability to do so, we had some many starts in this series, it’s learning how to convert those and getting through tough periods.”
Australia will announce their squad for the series against Sri Lanka on Wednesday but Paine stressed he’s happy to play with a squad that is given to him and doesn’t want to be the one selecting the individuals. “Not really, no. I’ve got enough on my plate at the moment. I’m happy when I’m asked my opinion and will give it. Happy with that. As fordown the track, wouldn’t mind a crack at it in four or five years. That would be nice,” he quipped.
“It’s ideal if you have a team where you can keep going with the same XI, but at the moment in Australia we probably do need to chop and change occasionally to get the best combination of players.”