Not Wise To Sledge Mitchell Johnson - Steve Smith
Day four of the second Test between Australia and India in Brisbane ended in shock for the visitors as they lost by four wickets.
This was amid drama in the morning when the Indian team management expressed displeasure over the practice pitches.
This was sparked when Shikhar Dhawan was unable to take the field due to a right wrist injury caused in the nets. The left-handed opener was hit while batting in the nets before play began.
He came out to bat later in the session when the sixth wicket fell, with a heavily strapped right wrist and on pain-killing injections.
There was another batsman hit in the nets, Virat Kohli on his right fore-arm, though he shook off that knock and came out to bat in place of Dhawan.
“We went to practice and the wicket wasn’t good for it. A few of the batsmen batted and Shikhar got hit and left.
"After that I had padded up and went in. He was a bit uncomfortable but he didn’t react and say that he can’t bat.
"He came back to the dressing room and Duncan and I were there and the by the time I finished my batting I found the wicket bit to be a bit uneven.
"We also came in early but by the time we came back it was quite close to the start of play. And there we saw Shikhar wasn’t really 100 per cent fit to go into bat,” said the skipper about the morning’s events.
“It was quite late and we could only give maybe 5-10 minutes’ notice to Virat that he would go in to bat. That’s one area which we could have handled a bit better but it’s something that we will have to take it in our stride.
"We thought Shikhar got a blow but he was good enough to bat but he was not. As you saw he went into bat late. But with that kind of a scenario, there is a bit of unrest in the dressing room and the calmness of the dressing room goes for a toss.
"It was a bit late to verbally resolve the problem. What was really needed was some kind of a partnership, 20-25 minutes batting and things would have been normal. But that didn’t happen. That was the area we lacked and we couldn’t really capitalise on,” he added.
The result of this confusion saw India slide to 87 for five after starting from 71 for one.
Australia bowled India out for 224 runs in the second innings, leaving themselves only 128 runs for victory and they ultimately won by four wickets just after tea.
"The defeat is disappointing. But it is important to see the reason why it happened and then you can rectify them,” said Dhoni on Saturday.
“I felt today’s first session was very crucial and I don’t think we handled it really well.
That was one of the main reasons (for defeat) because if we had a decent partnership going and got a few more runs, we all knew the wicket was misbehaving to an extent.”
“If the game would have gone to the fifth day it would have been a bit up and down.
"We could have exploited the conditions a bit more. But I think the morning session had a big impact on the game,” he added.
Meanwhile, Australia’s young skipper Steve Smith has come out and warned India that any plans of sledging Mitchell Johnson in the future are likely to backfire just as they did in Brisbane.
“It probably isn’t too wise, is it? It was just outstanding the way Mitchell Johnson came out and batted in the first innings and took the bowlers on.
"I think it got them off their lengths a little bit and probably helped me out at the other end as well,” said Smith.
Despite the odd happenings on day four, the real turn-around came in the first innings when Australia were down at 247 for six at one stage and then recovered well enough to score 505 which ultimately put India under pressure.
“It wasn’t a great position to be in. I don’t think those thoughts ever run through your head. I think it was just amazing the way Mitch came out and took the bowlers on from ball one.
"I think that was a big turning point in the game to get that partnership there with Mitch and just the whole tail – to get 500 runs in the first innings was crucial for us,” said the young skipper.
Finally the question about the practice pitches’ incident with the Indian team earlier in the morning was put to him.
“None of our players had any problems with those wickets. They’re very good practice wickets. They emulate pretty much what you get out in the middle. That’s what you want at your playing ground.
"I don’t think any of our players had any problems with them whatsoever,” he signed off.
© Cricket World 2014