MELBOURNE (AFP): Skipper M.S. Dhoni said India’s big-name batsmen flopped as his team came up well short in their run chase to comprehensively lose the opening Test to Australia in Melbourne on Thursday.
Set an imposing 292 runs for victory, India fell apart to finish all out for 169 off 47.5 overs late on the fourth day.
It was India’s fifth consecutive loss in away Tests and conjured memories of their wretched series in England earlier this year when they relinquished their top ranking in a 4-0 thrashing.
Sachin Tendulkar was India’s top scorer with 73 in the first innings and just 32 in the second.
Dhoni, who now has the task of lifting his team of batting superstars for next week’s second Test in Sydney, said the tourists had to show more consistency to get back into the four-Test series.
“Our batting flopped in both the innings. We have to show more consistency,” Dhoni said after the defeat.
“We need to score more runs. Otherwise, it would be very difficult for us to win. We need to apply ourselves a lot more and if we do that I have no doubt that we would come back strongly.”
It was a miserable effort Thursday from the Indian batsmen with Virender Sehwag (7), Gautam Gambhir (13), Rahul Dravid (10), V.V.S. Laxman (1) and Virat Kohli (0) showing little appetite for the fight.
Australia converted a 51-run innings lead into a challenging 291 advantage heading into the fourth innings and India were soon back-pedalling, left at 81 for six by Tendulkar’s crucial dismissal in the 27th over.
“We thought if we could get them out for 240 or 250-odd runs thats a very gettable score but I felt 290-odd runs was also a score we should have achieved, the wicket was pretty good,” Dhoni said. “It’s not like there was too much wear and tear in the wicket.”
But Dhoni was not concerned by his star batsmen’s feeble showing and expected a better effort at the Sydney Cricket Ground. “They are very experienced batsmen,” he said. “You have to give credit to Australia bowlers for the way they bowled. They kept a nagging line outside the off-stump and that’s why they got us.”
“Our bowlers brought us back in to the game. We were short by 50-odd runs in the first innings. Their lower-order scored some runs, if we had got them (out) earlier, we would have had 50-60 runs less to chase. “We need to find way to get their lower-order out cheaply.”
India have yet to win a series in Australia after nine previous tours over 64 years.
Test cricket’s greatest runscorer Tendulkar will get another chance to claim his elusive 100th Test and ODI century in Sydney, where he has scored three hundreds including an unbeaten 241, and averages 221.33 in seven innings.