The 333 run win by Australia in the First Test of the four match series in Pune last week has brought added interest to the Second Test in Bangalore.
There were few people who gave Australia a hope of taking anything from the series. Now they find themselves in the box seat. Not only was it an unexpected win, it was a complete demolition of the home side and must have sent reverberations into India’s changing room.
Australia’s captain, Steve Smith, was naturally upbeat following the win: “We know that we only need to win one more game to regain (retain) the Gavaskar-Border trophy.”
India was trying to play it down. After they had been bowled out for 105 in their first innings on the second day in Pune, their coach Anil Kumble said: “It’s just a bad day and we’re bound to have that (occasionally).”
The next day, the final one of the match, his side were rolled for 107 with the 212 run aggregate his side had cobbled together the lowest ever made by a Test side in India.
Leading into the Bangalore Test, Kumble was putting that to one side: “It was one of those games where things didn’t go our way and you just need to move on.”
The result must have left mental scars as this was a side that hadn’t lost any of their last 19 Tests. They had become virtually impregnable at home with the spin duo of Ravi Ashwin and Ravi Jadeja, ranked as the top two bowlers in the world, capable of rescuing any situation, if needed.
Their domination on their own soil had seen them go more than four years and 20 Tests without defeat, winning all but three of those matches.
India have only come back twice from being a Test down in a home series. Both involved three Tests with the latest of these back in 2001 when Australia won the first match of the series easily, by 10 wickets in Mumbai.
In the next Test, Steve Waugh famously asked India to follow on having secured a first innings lead of 274 only to see India keep his team out in the field for a further 178 overs as VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid compiled a 376 run stand for the fifth wicket.
Like his coach, India’s captain Virat Kohli also displayed a positive mindset: “Whenever we’ve played Test cricket here (in Bangalore) we’ve played really well.
"We always play well at this stadium and even the last time we played a Test match (here) we won. Even against Australia, the last time we played here we won the Test match.
"Those things are obviously big positives for us.”
It’s good to have that attitude and it’s the one you need when leading your team, especially after the defeat it had just experienced. The facts, though, are not entirely supportive.
Australia has a better record than India at the stadium. Of the five Tests played, Australia has won two and drawn two with only the last Test, in 2004, the one that Kohli referred to, ending in defeat.
India’s record at the ground is not strong. There have been 21 Tests played at the venue with India winning six and their opposition the same number.
So, was Kohli’s thinking clouded by his own experience at the ground? Possibly, but unlikely. He’s played two Tests at the M.Chinnaswamy Stadium. The first back in 2012 did indeed eventuate in a win to India with Kohli scoring a century and an unbeaten fifty in the second innings.
The last, though, and the last to be played at the ground, was a draw against South Africa when there was no play on any of the last four days.
It seems as though Kohli’s comments were more a show of bravado after that humiliating defeat in Pune. Comments to keep the mind strong and his team upbeat after a damaging set back after a series of excellent results.
When Steve Smith was asked how India might be feeling coming towards the end of a series of matches that has seen them play ten Tests in a little over six months, he wasn’t showing any sympathy for the workload.
“Any time you come up, Australia and India, I guess there’s always a fierce rivalry there," he said. "It doesn’t take much to get up for that sort of occasion. I don’t think that it’s really any excuse to perform badly.”
So which team will prevail in Bangalore? Will it be an Australian team full of confidence and with a history of good results at the venue or will this previously dominant Indian team be able to bounce back?