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'Martyn took the game away from India'
November 02, 2003
It was Damien Martyn who took the game away from India in the day-night tri-series match in Mumbai.
Martyn is not known to be in the league of Adam Gilchrist or Matthew Hayden or the Waughs, nor does he figure in the first list of the opponents in the team meetings. But the classic hundred from Martyn would serve a reminder to the Indian team to work him out on the drawing board before they come to face him again in future encounters.
Martyn played a luminous innings when his team was groping for a formidable total. His great footwork on a square turner helped him use the crease to play shots all around the park.
A strong offside player, Martyn held the innings together till the very end and found the partner in Michael Bevan to lift Australians to the total they wanted. Bevan played his role of sheet anchor to perfection.
It is this batting depth that allows the two dreaded openers -- Gilchrist and Hayden -- to be so dominant and aggressive. The depth is in the presence of the Symonds, the Martyns and the Bichels. They all on their own can win games for Australia.
And this why the early dismissal of Hayden did not stop Gilchrist from wielding his magical wand at will. He appeared to hit each and every ball and was mainly responsible for scattering the Indian bowling.
An old teammate from Gloucestershire, Andrew Symonds played a great little innings. A mighty six played over covers in the early part of his innings conveys the aggressive attitude and ability of this Australian batsman.
The Australian batters kept coming at the Indians. There is a relentless energy and conviction about the way the Australians play their brand of cricket. There is never any respite or any such moment when you feel you are in absolute control of them. Even when they appear down they seem to attack you rather than defend nervously.
The Indian gambit of opening the attack with Virender Sehwag might not have worked but one has to understand and appreciate the innovative ideas of Indian team.
A few decisions are made with respect to the wicket and also to bring about the surprise element to introduce a break in the predictable pattern. Indian bowlers might have looked off target but it had lot to do with the way the world champions batted.
At times it just does not seem to work for the bowlers and I myself being in such situation before have wondered about what has happened to the form which continued till the last spell? Or what went wrong even after going through all the hard practice sessions?
This feeling would only last until the next game where you get your line and length along with few wickets. Our bowlers are strong to make amends and would ensure a quick comeback putting such efforts behind. Only Agarkar had a decent spell in picking up four wickets.
With 280-odd runs on the board it was never going to be a easy task for the Indian batsmen. The dew factor in the early evening helped the Aussie bowlers with the extra bounce and fair amount of swing.
Sehwag's dismissal did not help the Indians in pursuing the required six runs an over. Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid together raised hopes but it was soon swept away by the inexperienced Michael Clarke.
The wicket turning square made it quite difficult for the Indian batsmen to come to terms with it. In the absence of the senior bowlers the Australians second string of bowlers have operated exceedingly well on Indian wickets.
They held the Kiwis by the neck in bowling them out cheaply at Faridabad and have continued the good work in Mumbai.
Nathan Brackan is a true revelation. The tall fast bowler is making the most in the absence of the Australian pace trio. His ability to bring the ball into the batsmen has troubled all the openers in the tournament. He is the only bowler to have bowled consistently even in the slog overs.
Andy Bichel and Brad Williams have supplemented him well to fetch second straight win for the World champions. Not bad for a side which was said to lack quality bowlers on this trip!
It is only true to say that Australian cricket culture is so strong that the absence of key players has not really affected the side. The real test would come as the teams reach the final stages. The experienced versus the inexperienced -- it could still play its part.