Injuries, familiar problems stand between RCB and silverware


Injuries, familiar problems stand between RCB and silverware

MS Ramakrishnan • Last updated on Sun, 02 Apr, 2017, 09:57 PM

In Kohli and Rahul’s absence, AB de Villiers will have to shoulder much of the batting responsibility at the start of the season. © BCCI

Royal Challengers Bangalore are easily one of the most entertaining teams in the IPL. There’s a Virat Kohli-led enviable ensemble of batters on the field, well complemented by raucous supporters in the stands and millions on YouTube channel. It’s perfect… nearly. For, all that’s missing now, is silverware.

RCB’s batting unit has World Cup and World T20 winners, the No. 1 batsman of the format and even a proven IPL performer. And yet the team has failed to be crowned champions. But it’s also easy to see why they haven’t tasted glory – they’ve been a lopsided, batting-heavy line-up. Kohli left peers, opponents and every single pair of eyes on last year’s IPL, dumbstruck with his unmatched form with the bat. He amassed 973 runs, with four centuries, and single-handedly powered them to the final.

A brand, new edition of IPL, after a long home season, has opened a different, potentially debilitating challenges for RCB. Even their stronger batting suit will now have to be shouldered by different heads following injuries to Kohli and KL Rahul. The captain will be reassessed for participation after a couple of weeks while Rahul, behind only Kohli and de Villiers in the team’s batting charts last season, will give the whole season a miss.

The team were dealt a massive blow when Mitchell Starc – their most potent weapon in the bowling department – opted out of the tournament’s 2017 edition. This meant they had to go hammer and tongs at the auction for a top-class bowler. They showed that by going the distance with a whopping INR 12 crore bid in an intense four-way bidding war for England fast bowler Tymal Mills, who has earned the reputation of being a versatile fast bowler – a prerequisite for one plying his trade in T20s.

The team management seemed to have gone into the auction with a clear mindset, wanting to beef up their bowling battalion. The second most notable addition to the squad was Rajasthan’s left-arm seamer Aniket Choudhary, who was bought for INR 2 crore from a base price of 10 lakh. In fact, when the auctions were happening, Aniket, who bowls at a decent pace and swings the ball, was actually bowling to Virat Kohli in the nets to prepare India for the Starc test ahead of the four-match series against Australia.

RCB look a very good team on paper and with a lot of uncertainties over the reshuffling of squads for IPL-11 next year, they’d hope to give their 100 percent for the title this season, for it could be tough to assemble such a formidable unit.

One individual who’d desperate to perform well on the field is Chris Gayle, who had an average season in 2016. In fact, it was just the second season with RCB where Gayle did not record a triple-figure score, after 2014. He was no more a sure-shot selection in the playing XI despite his decorated T20 career, so much so that he was even left out of the eleven a few times last season. With Rahul ruled out, the need for Gayle to rekindle his best form becomes imperative.

The build up to IPL-10, however, has not been great for the left-hander, with quiet outings in the Bangladesh Premier League and the Pakistan Super League that followed. A good season is vital to Gayle’s future at RCB, especially with the aforementioned shuffling of squads in 2018.


RCB’s batting line-up is undoubtedly the best in the tournament. Even with Kohli out for a couple of weeks at least, Gayle, AB de Villiers and Shane Watson should be able to pack enough in their punch to put bowling sides in trouble and turn games on their head.


A no-brainer really. There is absolutely no doubt that accuracy with the ball, especially in the death overs, has been a major problem for RCB. Barring Starc, who could nail reverse-swinging yorkers at will, they haven’t managed to snap up any special talent. Their big-money buy Mills has the opportunity to rid RCB of their bowling woes.


Yuzvendra Chahal’s rise as a quality leg-spinner has been quite impressive with his RCB showing, so much so that he made the national selectors take note and even earned an India cap. This season, he plays a key role in their bowling plans and his consistency levels will be closely monitored.

Pawan Negi, their newest buy, had a forgettable outing last year after going for a massive bid of INR 8.5 crore from Delhi Daredevils in the 2016 auction. This time around, at RCB, he could well be named ahead of Iqbal Abdulla – their second-choice Indian spinner in 2016 – because of his potential to hit the ball long and clean.

Stuart Binny has not quite managed to be in the limelight at the international circuit since the emergence of Hardik Pandya. With RCB likely to have three front-line pacers, the Karnataka all-rounder gives them the extra medium-pace option with swing up front with the new ball, in addition to his big-hitting abilities with the bat. An excellent season could give him a great chance of knocking on the selectors’ doors once more, with India set to move out of their home comforts in the coming seasons.

Many eyes will be on Kedar Jadhav – the finisher. He gave India a lot of hope of fitting into the role in the middle-order during the ODIs against England and his ability to handle pressure situations is something the selectors would want to zoom in on during this season.


Yes, the Chinnaswamy stadium is a great place for fans to enjoy T20 cricket, but the bowlers are generally none-too-pleased. The reason, you ask? Short boundaries and a batsmen-friendly strip. No target is safe and the toss becomes far too vital. It is for this reason, the Chinnaswamy has never quite evolved into a fortress for the home side.

What the schedule holds

RCB would want to have a close eye on how they begin the season. Winning just two out of their first seven games put immense pressure on the team last year, although they won six games out of seven in the second half of the tournament and even managed a top-two finish.They have an even spread of home and away games and also finish off their two games against bogey team Sunrisers Hyderabad well in advance. They close out their season with two games and an away trip to Delhi. It is an itinerary that could have so easily been worse.

The team would be better served if the middle-order manages to stay in good touch through the league phase, should they progress beyond. Kohli and de Villiers batted out most of the overs last year – but the chances of the duo having such a dream season simultaneously yet again could be too much to ask for, even if the two are known to defy the law of averages and probabilities on a routine basis.

Ideal Starting XI: Chris Gayle, Shane Watson, AB de Villiers (stand-in captain), Mandeep Singh, Sarfaraz Khan, Kedar Jadhav, Stuart Binny, Pawan Negi/Iqbal Abdulla, Yuzvendra Chahal, Tymal Mills, Sreenath Arvind/Aniket Choudhary

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Smart India Hackathon: PM Modi bats for IT to solve daily problems

PM Narendra Modi PM Narendra Modi

PRIME MINISTER Narendra Modi on Saturday called for enhanced use of information technology to solve everyday problems facing the society and urged young innovators to develop solutions.

Addressing ‘Smart India Hackathon’, a nationwide event intended to promote innovation and out-of-the-box thinking in young minds, Modi called for skill engagement optimisation to convert demographic dividend into development divided and urged the youths to join in creating a “new India” through technology and public participation.

Noting that cashless transaction in India has registered a sharp growth, the Prime Minister asked the students about measures that can be take to check cyber crimes.

Addressing more than 10,000 engineering students in 26 districts through video conferencing, Modi said: “India is a youthful nation, and the youth of India is blessed with phenomenal energy. This energy will bring very good results for the nation. There is a need to use technology more and innovate more. We live in a technology driven era. A series of issues have been placed before our youth to work on.

“The issues are challenging but this is also an opportunity. The true essence of democracy is ‘Jan Bhagidari’. Together we will solve all the issues that are affecting the nation through ‘Jan Bhagidari.”

Noting that this is an era of ‘Internet of Things’, the PM told the youths that when they are innovating they may face setbacks but they should not allow these things to lower their morale or dampen their spirits.

“People say today’s youngsters ask so many questions, and I see that as a very good thing. Youth of India wants to find solutions to the nation’s problems. They want results that are quick and credible,” Modi said. “Today, the youngsters of India want to be job creators and not just a job. Your approach to solve the problems of the nation is going to strengthen the efforts to make a New India.”

The Hackathon, the first such event of its kind and scale was focused on the problems of social importance as identified by the Central government. The two-day event, starting Saturday, is being organised in 26 locations in the country.

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Nabarangpur: Aadhaar enrollment faces myriad problems

Priti Bisoyi, 4, refuses to get photographed at a camp in Papadahandi block. The administration is now conducting special camps for children in the 0-5 age group. (Debabrata Mohanty) Priti Bisoyi, 4, refuses to get photographed at a camp in Papadahandi block. The administration is now conducting special camps for children in the 0-5 age group. (Debabrata Mohanty)

The ceiling fan rests motionless – someone had forgotten to turn the switch on. The only sign of electricity in this sultry room at the Chikili upper primary school in Dabugaon block of Nabarangpur district, where an Aadhaar enrolment camp is underway, is the glow from the fingerprint scanner. Just as 20-something Arabati Majhi puts her right palm on the fingerprint scanner, the light goes off — it’s a power outage.

“Oh… gone again,” groans Gupta Prasad Subudhi, district coordinator of the Hyderabad-based Karvy Data Management Services Limited, one of the private enrolment agencies tasked by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to prepare Aadhaar cards. “This is the fifth outage since morning. How will I ever finish my work this way? And this heat… I have been sweating buckets,” he says, staring angrily at the laptop screen as a dozen tribal men and women stifle their giggles.

Majhi keeps standing before a blank flex-poster, clutching her 4-year-old son Simanchala’s palm. In one corner of the room, her year-old son Dakuchhi lies on a grubby rug on the cemented floor. A few hours earlier, the two children had been enrolled under Aadhaar. Dakuchhi now lies deep in sleep, unmindful that he will soon be a 12-digit identification number, part of a database of 112 crore Indians who have enrolled for the unique identification programme.

A few minutes later, the scanner beeps to life, and Subudhi is visibly relieved. Over the next few minutes, Subudhi scans Majhi’s iris and fingerprints and hands her a printed sheet indicating that her biometric scans have been successfully completed.

On March 27, the Supreme Court observed that Aadhaar cannot be “pressed” for welfare schemes. “For benefits, it (Aadhaar) cannot be pressed…for non-benefits, it can be done,” said a bench headed by Chief Justice of India J S Khehar.

Here in Nabarangpur — the Odisha district that’s arguably India’s poorest and which was part of a year-long assignment in 2015-16 by The Indian Express to track poverty and transformation — “benefit” versus “non-benefit” is not what officials are rushing to decipher; instead, it’s enrolment that’s occupying their minds. Until March 30, over 87 per cent of the district’s 12.89 lakh people had been enrolled under Aadhaar, a little under the state’s tally (88 per cent of 4.4 crore population).

The administration is now conducting special camps for children in the 0-5 age group, with over 46 per cent of the 94,911 children in this category getting enrolled.

“In a district such as Nabarangpur, where there is poor mobile connectivity and difficulties in electricity supply in some areas, Aadhaar enrolment is a daunting task,” says district collector Rashmita Panda.

Though Nabarangpur needs about 20 MW of daily power, it gets only 17-18 MW from its three grids, which draw electricity from the Balimela Hydroelectric project in neighbouring Malkangiri district.

Patchy electricity isn’t Nabarangpur’s only challenge. About 20 km from Chikili village, at an enrolment camp for children that’s being held at an anganwadi centre in Betajharan village, Papadahandi block, Aadhaar operator Nabaghana Amatya looks hot and harried. It’s the first day of the camp and Amatya has been told to take photographs of the children — “not biometrics as they tend to change as the children grow up,” he says.

Every time he aims the camera of his tablet at four-year-old Priti Bisoyi, the child kicks and screams. Amatya tries his best, even standing up to aim right, but the girl continues bawling. Her mother hands her a biscuit, but Priti would have none of it. “Can’t have a crying baby as Aadhaar photo,” he tells the mother, asking her to take the child away and angrily deleting the blurry photos.

Next in the queue is Namita Rana with her two-year-old son Subham. The child poses without a fuss but Amatya’s problems have just begun. The 2G net connection, through which Amatya has to upload the child’s data to the Aadhaar database, gives up. After several failed attempts, during which the queue of restless children grows, Amatya finally uploads the photograph.

Officials complain that while enrolment for those in the 18-and-above age group is almost complete – 98 per cent of the 7.98 lakh population in that category — it is the children who have “dragged down” the enrolment rate.

“We have allocated 13 tablets to the district, of which eight are now being used to enroll children,” says Soubhagya Nayak, the district’s e-governance manager, a position that makes him the man in charge of Aadhaar enrolment. “We could have completed the enrolment by June this year, if only the Internet connection had been a little more reliable.”

Arabati Majhi (Top) gets her fingerprints scanned in Chikili village; Ayush Harijan, (Down) 7, at an enrollment camp. (Debabrata Mohanty) Arabati Majhi (Top) gets her fingerprints scanned in Chikili village; Ayush Harijan, (Down) 7, at an enrollment camp. (Debabrata Mohanty)

Reliability is usually too much to ask for in these parts. So while state utility BSNL has had a presence in the district for years, its 2G network usually moves at a crawl. Private networks such as Airtel and Jio offer 4G connections in some areas, but much of the district falls in network shadow areas.

Officials claim that until 2016, the rate of enrolment was about 60 per cent, but the pace quickened after the state government’s IT arm, Odisha Computer Application Centre, took charge in August last year. That brought in more private agencies on board and the Centre held camps in far-flung areas of the district.

So far, the district administration has managed to seed the 12-digit Aadhaar numbers with the personal details of the beneficiaries of welfare and social security schemes such as the National Food Security Scheme, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension, Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension and Indira Gandhi National Disability Pension. Aadhaar seeding is a process by which UIDs of residents are included in the service delivery database to enable Aadhaar-based authentication during delivery of services such as pension and ration.

For NFSA, as part of which beneficiaries get 5 kg of rice or wheat at Rs 1 a kg and half a litre of kerosene at Rs 18-20/litre, the district officials have so far seeded the NFSA cards of 15,785 of the 17,332 ‘priority households’. Similarly, of the 3,778 beneficiary families of the Antyodaya Anna Yojana (the poorest among BPL), who get 35 kg of rice at Rs 1 a kg, the officials have seeded 3,498 families.

“Once the Aadhaar seeding is done in the NFSA scheme, it will be easy for us to weed out anyone who has more than two NFSA cards. We are integrating the Aadhaar numbers in the E-Bitaran software programmed into the Point of Sale machines at the ration shops — that will ensure only real beneficiaries get the wheat and rice,” says A Geeta Rani, marketing inspector in the food and consumer welfare department.

For social security schemes such as the old-age, widow and disability pensions, where the beneficiaries get Rs 300 a month, officials say more than 71 per cent of the 70,000-odd beneficiaries have been Aadhaar-seeded. Nabarangpur’s 63,852 beneficiaries of the state-sponsored social security programme, the Madhu Babu Pension Yojana, are also getting Aadhar-seeded, they say.

However, not everyone is optimistic about the “seeding”. Mary Nag, a 65-year-old widow who lives all by herself in D Beheraguda village of Nabarangpur block, says the sarpanch told her about Aadhaar and that she would get her pension money in her bank account. “We have no bank in our village. I have one in Nabarangpur town, 10 km away, but I hardly use it. I used to go to the gram panchayat office near our village and collect the pension in cash at the beginning of every month. Now I will have to hire an autorickshaw and go all the way to the town,” she says.

With 61 bank branches and 141 bank kiosks for a population of 12.9 lakh, Nabarangpur remains woefully underbanked. Of the 2.5 lakh MGNREGA cardholders who are active, 67 per cent have had their Aadhaar data seeded into their cards.

Project Director of the District Rural Development Agency, Poma Tudu, says Aadhaar-seeding of MGNREGA workers would ensure a “lot of associated benefits” for beneficiaries and their family members. “Besides weeding out bogus cards, Aadhaar will also ensure that an MGNREGA worker gets all the benefits of a Nirman Shramik (construction worker) such as loans for building a pucca house and financial help for their daughters’ wedding. Once an MGNREGA worker completes 90 days of work, we will register him or her as a Nirman Shramik under the labour department,” says Tudu, whose DRDA is the nodal agency for implementation of MGNREGA in the district.

But Dandapani Nayak is not so optimistic. The 21-year-old from Majhiguda village in Junapani grampanchayat of Dabugaon block is among several MGNREGA workers who haven’t been paid their dues since April last year. Nayak, who worked on a road construction work last year, says he is yet to get his wages for three weeks of work. “Every time we go to the post office to withdraw money, we are told there is a technical problem in our accounts,” says Nayak.

Tudu blames the delay on “technical glitches” in the postal department’s attempt last year to migrate from a 7-digit accounting system to a 10-digit one.

These “glitches”, it seems, do little to shake people’s faith in the system. So at another enrolment camp, this time at the ‘Permanent Enrolment Centre’ near the Nabarangpur municipality, Lalita Harijan comes with her seven-year-old nephew Ayush Harijan. As the enrolment operator asks Harijan to pose for the camera, he stiffens up and purses his lips. “Hey, you are very good-looking. You don’t have to be so stiff,” says the operator as the crowd in the room breaks into laughter.

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Hackathon 2017: B Tech students develop softwares to protect ISRO data from hackers

Six students from the University of Petroleum and Energy Studies(UPES) at Dehradun in Uttarkhand have been working here since 8 am on Saturday to develop a software tool to prevent hacking of highly-sensitive online documents of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and divert the attacker to a random user. They were among 440 B.Tech students from 13 states , working on 21 different problems assigned to them by ISRO as a part of a two-day ‘Hackathon-2017’ — part of the effort to realise the “digital India mission” dream of PM Narendra Modi. The students, all from the third year B.Tech courses, have to complete their task in 36 hours and submit it by 8 pm on Sunday. The UPES students — Neeta Chaudhary, Shristi Jain, Shubhi Dixit, Simran Aggarwal, Devershi Chandra and Utkarsh Malik, pursuing Cyber Security and Forensic Science course — were developing a software, “Cyber Eye’’, which they claimed would identify address resolution protocol (ARP) spoofing and immediately hide the IP address of a computer or machine to which the hacker or the attacker wants to have access for stealing information or sabotaging operations.

They told The Sunday Express that they would be able to complete their task by Sunday. Mentored by their professors Keshav Kaushik and Amber Hayat, all the six students have been registered as “ethical hackers’’. “Our students are highly capable and we hope they would develop the software that can be successfully used by ISRO to prevent access of its machines and documents by attackers from anywhere in the world,” Kaushik said.

Another group of six students from Shivalik Group of Institutions in Ambala were working on “secured distribution of restricted documents outside the organisation’’. These students — Ajit Rana, Sagar Johri, Anusha, Shubham, Amitabh and Anjika — said attackers many times steal data when those were being transferred online outside the organisation. One of them said : “It is a very challenging job, but we have almost reached to finding a solution to it.” ISRO scientist Haresh Bhatt said that “solutions offered by students may require further improvements for implementation, but what is important is that the event would encourage engineering students to go for innovation and find solutions to the problems being faced by various government departments.” He said a 25-member jury would judge the work of the students and the best three would be given cash prizes of Rs 1 lakh, Rs 75,000 and Rs 50,000, respectively. Others would get consolation prizes of Rs 10,000 each, besides trophy and certificates of participation.

Bhatt said that a number of engineering institutes all over the country were sent 52 problems by ISRO, but students accepted to work on only 21 problems. Hiranmay Mahanta of the Gujarat Technological University Innovation Council said that most of the responses came from institutes in rural and interior areas, and not from big cities. Giving details about the “Hackathon”, Mahanta said that it was being organised for the first time in the country, jointly by the Ministry of Human Resources and the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), at 26 centres across the country and a total of 10,000 students from over 2,000 engineering colleges were participating to give solutions 598 problems given to them by 29 ministries of the central government.

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Delhi: Problem with landlords among issues Africans face

The Delhi Police special helpline for Africans living in the country received complaints mainly relating to disputes with landlords and problems with universities, said police. Delhi Police received an average of five complaints a month on its helpline for Africans. Out of the 59 calls received on the helpline since it was started in May last year, cases were registered in 12 instances, a senior police officer said.

According to police, the cases which were registered were not “very serious” in nature and pertained to small fights or comments being passed on Africans. Following the murder of a Congolese national last year in the national capital, the 24×7 helpline (8750871111) was launched to address complaints of the Africans. Joint Commissioner of Police (southeast) was appointed the nodal officer for the helpline. R P Upadhyay, the nodal officer for the helpline, said that they conduct regular interactions with Africans at district level, and in February this year he held a meeting with the Africans.

“Ours is a very regular interaction. We have held close to 16 meetings with them,” Upadhyay said. Explaining the nature of calls received on the helpline, he said that most of the calls pertained to problems with landlords, problems with universities in terms of communication issues, hostel and fees. “The other calls pertained to cultural differences, people not being able to understand their accent. In the meetings, the Africans have regularly stressed that they are not given rent receipts by landlords that could help prove they are residing here awaiting extension of visas – in case it has expired,” said another officer.

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More men call mental helpline than women: Data

The mental helpline number run by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation is sought after more by men than women, data analysed by KEM Hospital’s psychiatric department showed.

A week-long record of calls shows that of the 125 calls received between March 20 and 26, 58.4 per cent were by men and 41.6 per cent by women. The issues plaguing Mumbai men the most are unemployment followed by addiction to alcohol and drugs. Women in the city are mostly troubled over domestic violence.

The helpline (022-24131212) was started in 2013 for people with specialised mental health issues in urban areas, although a small percentage of calls come from outside Maharashtra and even from abroad (3.2 per cent).

“Call data of the past two-three years show that men call the helpline more often than women. This could be because of women’s reluctance to share their problems over a phone call,” said Dr Shubhangi Parkar, head of KEM’s psychiatry department.

Men feel comfortable discussing their problems if their identities are concealed. Most calls are made by people aged between 21 and 40 years (80 per cent) followed by those under 20 years (20 per cent), she said.

Recently, a 37-year-old woman had called the helpline after several days’ attempts. The woman was subjected to physical abuse at home and she could not muster the courage to vent it out.

“In most cases, the helpline serves as a vent for people suffering from depression. A conversation helps calm them down. In this case, the woman now calls regularly. She feels much better after that,” a counselor attached with the helpline said.

Between February and March, the helpline saw a spike in calls by students of Class XII, with almost 20-25 calls from students per day.

According to Parkar, students discussed issues related to learning, stress over exams and fear of failing. “The calls are expected to subside once the exams are over,” she added. The 24X7 helpline run by KEM Hospital has 10 counselors who work in shifts.

An analysis showed that 65 per cent calls are follow-up calls where distressed patients keep seeking counselors’ help on a regular basis. Certain patients call multiple times to discuss personal problems they are uncomfortable disclosing to family or friends. “In serious cases, we refer them to a nearby hospital or psychiatric clinic. Since this is just a helpline, advice for further action is given if our counselors spot schizophrenic cases,” Parkar said.

With the Mental Healthcare Bill’s approved in the Lok Sabha, experts believe awareness on mental issues will increase.

“Awareness on these issues is still low. We know the calls we receive can increase if more people are told about such a facility. It is a health issue that should not be ignored,” Dr Ajita Nayak, attached to the helpline, said.

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Australia in Tests: Encouraging signs but few problems remain


Australia in Tests: Encouraging signs but few problems remain

Tristan Lavalette • Last updated on Tue, 28 Mar, 2017, 03:20 PM

Australia had reason to be optimistic despite a disappointing defeat in Dharamsala © BCCI

In a major anti-climax for such a riveting content, the series finale ended in a fizzle with India romping to a convincing eight-wicket victory early on day four. After repeatedly picking themselves off the canvas, Australia had nothing left to give and their dreams of history ended in bitter disappointment.

In the immediate aftermath of a taxing series which concludes almost nonstop cricket since the middle of last year, Australia will feel hollow knowing they let slip a golden opportunity to achieve one of the greatest upsets in the country’s proud history. Had they won, the 2017 tour of India would have been forever linked with West Indies ’95 and England 1989 in reverence and feted as a gold standard achievement.

Steve Smith undoubtedly knew a series victory in this arduous locale against all the odds would lift his captaincy standing a notch and forever be a crowning achievement of his legacy no matter what transcribes from here.

Yet, despite being continually pesky, Australia gradually fell away after such a promising start to the series where they caught a seemingly overconfident and undoubtedly jaded Indian team napping. You feel Australia will forever rue the second Test as the one that got away, frustratingly unable to capitalise after bowling India out on the opening day for just 189.

An 87-run lead on the first innings wasn’t quite the knockout blow required and India, shaking from their stupor, clawed their way back into the series and generally dictated terms from there despite Australia’s refusal to roll over.

Something good is simmering within Australia but the series defeat and eventual drop off at the backend indicates they are still a flawed team. Encouragingly, Australia has the template to become a very good side and found several highly competent players since they regenerated after the debacle in Hobart last November.

They have pace stocks the envy of every other nation and Pat Cummins’s successful comeback – coupled with James Pattinson’s lower key return in the Sheffield Shield – ensures Australia are going to be very hard to beat in favourable conditions for quicks.

Australia have four genuinely talented quicks aged in their mid-20s and, if they all stay on the park, could emulate the West Indies’ iconic four-pronged pace attack of the 1980s. Not just a one-trick pony, they also possess reliable spinners Nathan Lyon and Stephen O’Keefe, who both starred at various stages in the series to showcase the team’s enviable all-round options with the ball.

Their formidable and versatile attack ensures Australia should always be competitive; Smith will have the confidence in his bowlers to take 20 wickets and consistently win Tests.

However, the batting remains a work in progress despite some encouraging signs in India. The batting suffered two costly calamities to effectively sink their dreams but were otherwise gritty and focused. They preached coach Darren Lehmann’s mantra of batting for the long haul but an over reliance on Smith, exacerbated by David Warner’s slump, cruelled Australia’s chances.

Pleasingly, they are building depth beyond Smith and Warner. Matt Renshaw, who celebrated his 21st birthday on March 28, is the type of nuggety and resolute opener Australia have long craved. There were question marks whether the youngster could succeed in unfamiliar conditions but Renshaw proved he belonged at Test level with a mature approach and, astoundingly, he looked more assured than his superstar partner Warner, who didn’t fire a shot to be Australia’s biggest disappointment.

Temperament and resoluteness are admired qualities but can only get one so far. Thus, Renshaw will need to iron out some inevitable kinks from his game, most notably playing away from his body which was exposed by India’s pacemen as the series wore on.

Peter Handscomb found the going predictably tougher after such a stellar initiation during the Australian summer but his unbeaten 72 to save the third Test proves he should become a middle-order mainstay.

Still, it feels Australia’s batting is still somewhat brittle and needs more depth if they want to become a consistent Test force. Shaun Marsh, the eternally maligned batsman, fought hard and combined with Handscomb to defy India’s push for victory in Ranchi. However, Marsh’s rollercoaster of a career has been littered with injuries and that scourge reared at the most inopportune moment with a back injury hampering the West Australian in the fourth Test and affecting his batting in the second innings when Australia desperately needed his experience to stabilise the dire situation.

Nearing 34 years of age, Marsh may not be part of Australia’s forward thinking as selectors are likely to recall Usman Khawaja, whose confidence would undoubtedly be rattled after watching on from the sidelines in India despite a dominant home summer.

Travis Head, the South Australian captain who was desperately unlucky to miss the squad, could also come into calculations after impressing in the shorter-formats for Australia. Glenn Maxwell made a memorable debut century in Ranchi and even top-scored amid the second innings spiral in Dharamsala but will be closely critiqued ahead of the looming Ashes later this year.

Perhaps the tour of India won’t quite be remembered indelibly by Australians but, still, the series could yet prove defining for this newfound team emerging from the rubbles of Hobart. Quite clearly, Smith’s side is taking shape and a return to the glory days of yesteryear – something that hasn’t happened for Australia since Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne retired a decade ago – feels imminent.

Australia now has a welcome breather from Test cricket with only a proposed tour of Bangladesh in August – subject to security clearance – before a home Ashes bout against England starting in November. Once the dust settles from this defeat, Australia will feel optimistic and bullish about the road ahead after such an encouraging performance in India.

However, despite the goodwill emanating, Australia has much work to do before they can enjoy a Test renaissance.

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