It was the closest Australia came to drawing a Test in this series — in these times of austerity this could have been enjoyable — still Michael Clarke and Company would leave the city with a tinge of consternation. For on-field and off-field incidents, this has been a forgettable week, one they would to get over before landing in Delhi for that one piece of consolation.
For one, this was a Test Clarke, more than anyone else, desperately wanted to win, after the homework gate or homework-axe scandal that has obviously drawn considerable flak from the cricket fraternity in general and Australian cricket greats in specific. Clarke would have wanted to stand-up and defend his case, which a win or even a draw would have afforded him with. Whether this had a bearing on his batting is hard to decipher, though him batting at an uncomfortable position and getting out first ball to a moment of incredulity point to the adverse. Maybe, he wanted to shut out his critics with that one stroke, which had not backfired, would have been a statement of intent.
But dissecting human mind is a taxing exercise in itself, and often ridden with ambiguity, not the least of a complex mind. If he had rendered an inspirational pep-talk before the match, it rubbed off partially. For there were glimpses of the archetypal Aussie fight, “We are disappointed with the result but we are happy with the fight and character our boys showed. We had the belief that we could still win the match, for strange things have happened in the past, and they gave their best shot. But the first one hour didn’t go our way,” he said.
Among the few positives were the revival of Phillip Hughes, the stability of Steve Smith, both of who would have missed out but for the suspended players, and the fight the bowlers put on. But still, they were left wanting for more. “We did well to get to 400 in the first innings, but it was mainly due to the lower order batsmen playing well. Ideally, we would want one of our six to score a big hundred,” he said.
Only Clarke has managed a century so far, in the first innings in Chennai, but thereafter, his own form too has tapered off. “We need to take a few lessons from Indian batsmen. Once they have got off good starts, they have punished us with big hundreds. But we tend to get out after making 50s and 60s. It’s not that we lacked skills or hadn’t prepared well enough, but we just couldn’t execute our plans in the way we would have liked,” he pointed out.
Hereon, the Mohali Test and the events that preceded it could be the reference point of Clarke’s captaincy career, irrespective of whether it slips or spurts.