The first Test at Adelaide, reworked following the tragic death of Phillip Hughes, has raised many pertinent questions for India ahead of the second match at Brisbane, which will get underway as early as Wednesday. While it will not give enough time for the Indians to ponder upon their performances, it is very likely that India will make some changes for the next game. Permanent Indian skipper MS Dhoni is likely to be fit for the Brisbane game as a result of which Kohli might have to go back to the role of full time batsman. It also remains to be seen what they do with leggie Karn Sharma, who made an unimpressive debut at Adelaide, and was easily taken to cleaners by Australia.
It can be argued that India lost the Test under Kohli, just like they have been doing under Dhoni. As such, it is only fair that Dhoni takes back his place in the team as leader. But, a deeper look at the effort will lead to the conclusion that India did better under Kohli at Adelaide than they have done under Dhoni over the years. Yes, it was only one Test, but there was enough to prove that there is something about Kohli the leader. His field placings and bowling changes were not impressive, but he definitely shouldered additional responsibility with the bat, and was nearly flawless with his execution. Kohli almost pulled off a miraculous win for India.
If you keep the result of the Test aside, Kohli as captain proved to be impressive, and he needs to be given a longer run to hone his skills. Yes, Dhoni was chosen as leader for the side when the team headed to Australia, and thus, logically, he should take over whenever he is fit. But, there is no rule that the captain cannot be changed midway through a series. Anil Kumble, unselfishly, gave up his leadership during the middle of the 2008 series against Australia when he realised that Dhoni was ready to take up the job. Dhoni should definitely return as wicket-keeper batsman to the side, but one would be pleasantly surprised if Kohli went out to lead the side again, at Brisbane.
Spin bowling is one area where India struggled miserably at Adelaide. Even as Nathan Lyon ran through the Indian batting line-up, India's debutant leggie Karn Sharma struggled. He was expected to trouble the Aussies, but looked clearly nervous, and failed to maintain a desired degree of control over the ball, expected even off a leggie. India cannot afford to go 2-0 down at Brisbane, since it would then make it impossible for them to win the series. At the same time, they would do well to back Sharma for one more game. As it is, Ravichandran Ashwin has failed to make much of an impact in foreign conditions. At least Karn picked up a few wickets in the first Test. He must be given time to grow.
Almost predictably, Shikhar Dhawan failed. His first innings dismissal, where he left a massive gap between bat and ball to be bowled was symptomatic of his poor technique. Although he was unlucky with his dismissal in the second innings, his run of failures is growing with every innings, which is highly worrying. He is just not looking a part of the Test arena. India have picked a reserve opener in Lokesh Rahul, and it might not be a bad idea to give him a go. After all, he can do only as badly as Dhawan. Some changes are necessitated. India need to react to the Adelaide loss else a 2-0 deficit is staring at them.
--By A Cricket Analyst