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Steve Waugh

The stage is set for a titanic battle

December 10, 2003

It's not often that two teams can finish a Test match and concede that neither had a psychological victory over the other.

The first Test in Brisbane was a frustrating one because of the lengthy rain interruptions that didn't allow either side to gather momentum and take control of the proceedings. We had our moments on days one and five whilst India could claim victory on days two and four, with the weather wiping out the middle of the game.

There were some outstanding individual efforts throughout, with Langer's 100 on Day 1 in conditions tailormade for swing and seam bowling making it one of his best Test match centuries.

Zaheer Khan showed his class with the ball to wrap up our first innings much quicker than we had hoped for or anticipated. His controlled aggression and accuracy means the search for a replacement for Srinath is well and truly over because this guy has the potential to be in the elite class of quick bowlers.

Sourav Ganguly must have been ecstatic with his first century against Australia, especially considering all the pre-match talk of his dislike of the bouncing ball. As always from a player's perspective, the only answer to criticism is to go out there and perform, and to his credit, he did exactly that. Like many of the Indian batsmen, he possesses a tremendous eye and pounces on any loose deliveries with clinical execution. Timing and placement were the features of his innings and we must now sit down and work out what we have to do next time around to reverse this early trend.

Going into Day 5, we felt as if the momentum had swung slightly against us, and as such we were primed for a positive effort to turn things around and head off to Adelaide with some sort of ascendancy. Taking four quick wickets was the perfect start, especially seeing Andy Bichel play a part in the first two, because he'd had a tough day previously, and to come back straightaway gave us the inspiration needed for the day.

Part two of the day's game plan was to then go out and play with purpose, which we did largely on the back of yet another brilliant display of batting from Matt Hayden. This guy is a superstar and is getting better each match, which is a daunting prospect for any bowler who confronts his imposing physical and mental presence.

Personally I was pleased to spend time in the middle, especially after the first innings duck and the early let-off in the second innings. As a batsman you need and want time in the middle at the start of the series to get your confidence levels up.

Sachin was certainly unlucky with his dismissal, but I'm also sure he would have been disappointed at leaving a ball so close to his stumps, but that is why Test cricket is such a great game, because it makes us all vulnerable and nervous at times.

Part three of the day's plan was to hopefully send India in to bat for the final 20 overs in the search for early wickets and the remote possibility of a victory. It wasn't achieved, but the scene is now set for a titanic battle over the next month, one which all cricket lovers should be eagerly anticipating.


Previous column: It was like a spear through my heart!

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