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Australian Cricket: Takeaways from the first Test

Australia got the tour of India off to the worst possible start as they were thrashed by an innings and 132 runs in the first Test.

The Baggy Greens were disappointing to say the very least and have come in for some heavy criticism since the humiliating defeat that left them with a number of unwanted records.

The second innings was particularly embarrassing when the Aussies were bowled out for just 91 runs – the lowest total an Australian side has ever made against India in India.

The defeat was also the third heaviest loss against India. In 2013 they lost by an innings and 135 runs and before that in 1998 they went down by an innings and 219 runs. But there is something about this recent hammering that will set alarm bells ringing.

The Australian Test side is under a bit of scrutiny as they move in a different direction under new coach Andrew McDonald. India was always going to be a huge test and they have fallen at the first hurdle.

Now they need to pick themselves up and bounce back in the second Test that begins on Friday. But before we look ahead to that, what were the main takeaways from the first Test humiliation?

No more Mr Nice Guy

The Australian side has been criticised for the niceties that were on show out in the middle with former Test captain Allan Border saying the players need to rediscover a ruthless streak in the second Test and moving forward.

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This was after Steve Smith gave the thumbs up to the Indian bowlers for beating his bat in the second innings. Such a gesture is something you would never see back when Border was playing and he was far from impressed.

Border described Smith’s actions as “ridiculous” and says the Australian side need to be playing “hard-nosed” cricket. The former Aussie Test skipper was keen to point out that they should not go “overboard” with their actions on the pitch, but they need to be more ruthless.

Australia are priced at 7/2 to win the second Test and it would appear they need to harden up to have any chance of doing so.

Dropping Travis Head was a mistake

The Aussie selectors dropped a bombshell by opting to leave Travis Head out of the side despite the fact the batsman had been in top form recently.

Head had averaged 87.50 over the past six months but he was dropped with both Peter Handscomb and Matthew Renshaw getting the nod. The decision completely backfired. Renshaw managed just two runs over the two innings and although Handscomb dug in with 31 runs in the first innings it was not enough to justify leaving Head out of the side.

His average in Asia is may not be the best, but Head should have been picked on form and given the chance. Head may not have prevented a heavy defeat but he could not have done any worse and has proven in the past he can dig in and score runs when the going is tough.

Changes will be made in the second Test and surely Head will return. If so then he is priced at 12/1 to be the Aussies leading batsman in the first innings.

Big call could be made on Warner

David Warner’s form continues to be a big concern for Australia and there has been the suggestion he could be left out of the second Test. The veteran opening batsman has made just one 50 in the last 15 Tests and he struggled big time against the India attack in the opening Test.

Warner was out for just one run in the opening innings and 10 in the second. He would have gone for one in the second innings but Virat Kohli put him down in the slips. Warner averages 22.16 in India and it seems unlikely he will be dropped. 

However after the Travis Head call you cannot rule anything out. It has been suggested that Head could come in and replace Warner as one of the opening batsmen. One thing is for certain, if he does start, Warner needs to raise his game. He is 9/1 to be the top Australian batsman in the first innings.

Murphy shines

It was not all doom and gloom for Australia as Todd Murphy caught the eye on debut with a seven-wicket haul. The selectors did get this one right when opting to go with two off-spinners in the form of Murphy and Nathan Lyon.

They are sure to do the same in the second Test with Murphy priced at 13/2 to be Australia’s leading bowler in the first innings.

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