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Aussies too good for India

Faisal Shariff | November 12, 2003 18:16 IST
Last Updated: November 13, 2003 00:07 IST

Scoreboard | Graphical analysis

A valiant 89 from Sachin Tendulkar proved insufficient as India went down to Australia by 61 runs in the eighth match of the tri-series at the Chinnaswamy stadium in Bangalore on Wednesday.

Wining the toss and electing to bat, Australia scored 347 for 2 in the day-night match. In reply, India managed only 286 for 8 in their allotted 50 overs.

Virender SehwagIan Harvey's double strike put paid to India's chase. Harvey bowled openers Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar after the pair had got India off to a flying start with an opening stand of 103 runs in 16 overs.

It is surprising that Ricky Ponting said he would prefer playing New Zealand rather than India in the final of the tri-series. Considering the huge margins by which Australia have beaten India in the last few months, Australia's captain would be encouraged to hope India and not New Zealand makes the final.

Centuries from Adam Gilchrist and skipper Ricky Ponting pulverized India out of the contest, a replica of the World Cup final in South Africa, when Ponting and Damien Martyn piled on the runs and as Australia scored 359 for 2.

While Gilchrist scored his maiden century against India, Ponting pounded the Indian bowlers mercilessly for an unbeaten 108 off 102 balls, which were studded with seven sixes and a single boundary.

Martyn scored an effortless 50 and was involved in a 149-run partnership in 16.2 overs with Ponting.

The Indian team will have to answer a lot of questions correctly to harbour any hopes of reaching the final.

How do the Indian bowlers stop the batsmen?

What balance will suit India in the next game against New Zealand?

What does one do with Mohammad Kaif's awful form? Should Hemang Badani replace him?

Should Rahul Dravid continue keeping wickets?

Should Ajit Agarkar replace Zaheer Khan?

Australian innings:

It wasn't the fitting tribute Javagal Srinath, who called it quits yesterday, would have expected.

Adam Gilchrist put Ashish Nehra, playing competitive cricket after seven months, and Zaheer Khan to the sword soon after Ricky Ponting called right at the toss and elected to bat.

The Chinnaswamy wicket in Bangalore has always been biased to India in encounters against Australia. In the three games played at the venue, the visitors failed to register a single victory.

But when Gilchrist smashed three boundaries off Nehra, who opened the bowling, that record seemed vulnerable.

After scoring a century in the Mumbai Test on the last tour in 2001, Gilchrist managed just two runs from four innings, unable to cope with Harbhajan's spin.

This time round Gilchrist changed his approach after spending time in the nets and batting on deteriorated Test type wickets, which take plenty of turn. In a newspaper column he revealed that while opening in one-dayers he pictures himself coming in to bat as No. 7 in a Test, with three or four close catchers around the bat.

With Matthew Hayden and Gilchrist on song, there was little the left-arm pacers could do except stare at the wicket or wipe the sweat off their foreheads.

The way Australia plays these days, the talking point is not about the battle between bat and ball, but more about how fast the Aussie batters get their runs. The fifty-run partnership was reached in the eighth over. After ten overs, Australia, at 72 without loss, were yet again set for a huge score.

Gilchrist is in many ways like a fast bowler: aggressive and quick; quick on his feet and quick in his quest to score. When the bowlers pitched it full, he drove with minimum fuss. If the ball was a tad short, he rocked onto the back foot and pulled it for boundaries, sometimes well over the fence for six.

He reached 50 with his eighth boundary, straight back over Zaheer Khan's head. After 15 overs the Aussies had dashed to their best start of the entire tri-series, the score reading 105-0.

The Indians were shaken by the regularity of the Aussie assault and mis-fields by Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif -- the best fielders in the side -- let the Aussies off to a flier.

Hayden, struggling to get Kumble off for runs, always looked to get away from strike. Playing the ball down behind square, he started for a single and was involved in a terrible mix-up with Gilchrist. Ganguly made no mistake and Hayden was on his way for 44 runs. (119-1)

The introduction of Murali Kartik restored some sanity to the trial. For starters, Ponting struggled to read his turn, lofting and mistiming him twice in one over in the deep just beyond Zaheer.

Gilchrist, who didn't bother to read the turn or loop, went berserk against the Indian spinners, smashing at least a four in each over. He crossed 1000 runs against India during his innings and in the process the sails off India.

Dravid, serving his sentence again as wicket-keeper, missed the simplest of stumpings, when Ponting, deceived by Kartik's loop, was stranded outside his crease. Dravid failed to collect the ball and instead swiped the bails off with his gloves. Ponting was on 25 and a wicket then would have let India sneak back into the contest.

If Dravid is going to keep wickets it is important to drill it into him and let him prepare himself mentally for the job. The other option though is to give Thilak Naidu a chance to prove his candidature. There is no point to put a gun to Dravid's head and mount him with a responsibility he is accepting reluctantly.

Gilchrist got his maiden hundred against India off 94 balls, with 13 boundaries and a six. But he was soon gone, caught sweeping Kumble to Zaheer at deep square leg for 111. Australia at that stage were 198 for 2 with another 16 overs to be bowled.

At the crease were two men who relish the Indian attack: Damien Martyn and Ricky Ponting. 

Ponting, who had done the hard yards for a good part of the afternoon against the spinners, then displayed his spite for Kartik. The spinner had bowled his nine overs for a respectable 38 runs and yet again gave a good account of the opportunity that came his way.

But Ponting hit a couple of towering sixes, which dwarfed the huge stadium and silenced the Bangalore crowds and ransacked Kartik's bowling figures. He returned figures of 10 overs for 51 runs and no wicket, but can take gratification from the fact that both the centurions struggled against him.

Runs were scored of boundaries and sixes as Ponting rocketed to his century with frenetic velocity. Fielders were on the turf to retrieve the ball from the fence and the skipper had to merely decide who bowls next. But bowling changes mattered little as the Aussies batted with fierce intent. Maybe, they were trying to tell the Indians to call off the Aussie tour.

Ponting's hundred off 99 balls had seven sixes, a single four and 45 singles. Martyn also reached a milestone, which went largely unnoticed due to Ponting's blitzkrieg. His 61 off 50 balls had 25 singles that ensured he let Ponting hog the strike.

Australia finished with 347 for 2 off their 50 overs, with Ponting unbeaten on 108. They only have to bowl the next 50 overs conservatively to complete the formalities.

India innings

India required a brisk start and could not afford to lose early wickets. On strike was Virender Sehwag, in woeful touch, and Sachin Tendulkar at the other end, raring to make up for the Mumbai loss. India had to score at 6.46 per over to carve an implausible win.

Tendulkar indicated he meant business and would go for the target when he drove and cut Brad Williams and Michael Kasprowicz for boundaries.

Sehwag was watchful early on, getting a measure of the wicket before unloading his TNT stockpile. And after a terrible run in the series, luck finally favoured him when Matthew Hayden dropped a regulation chance at first slip off Kasprowicz.

In the same over, Martyn dropped him at point. Realising that it was his day, Sehwag joined Tendulkar in the onslaught and cut loose.

Tendulkar sent Symonds for a six over extra cover and off the 15 over Sehwag plundered 16 runs off Andy Bichel that included a huge six over point.

India, after 15 overs, were 92 for 0 and bang on target. The only blip was the huge number of dot balls, 50 in the first 15 overs. Chasing a mammoth total of 348, it is imperative to make every ball count.

Tendulkar's half-century saw India cross the 100-run mark in the 17th over and Australia could sense a serious threat.

Ian Harvey then got through Sehwag's defenses and got Australia its first breakthrough. India were 103 for 1 with Sehwag gone for 39 runs. With him hitting some sort of form, India can hope for a good start in the all-important game against New Zealand on Saturday.

VVS Laxman played a cameo but was dismissed trying to clear the cover fielder only for Andrew Symonds to arrest the ball.

Sourav Ganguly returned to cricket after a month but it didn't show. He was in attacking mode and in one over smashed Clarke for three successive boundaries.

Tendulkar's dismissal stirred the Aussies back into the match. A delivery from Harvey that kept low deflected off the pads onto the stumps as the crowd suddenly went dead silent.

His 89 runs had kept India in the hunt. With his dismissal the result seemed settled in Australia's favour.

Ganguly and Dravid stitched together a 41-ball 45-run stand before the Indian skipper was caught in the deep looking to up the tempo. 325-plus totals put enormous pressure on sides chasing and it showed as wickets fell regularly. The Indians managed to get partnerships going but failed to translate them into match-winning stands.

At the end of the 40th over, India were 250-4 and an improbable win seemed possible though skipper Ganguly said after the match that the match was lost much before that.

Dravid was out to a brilliant catch by Kasprowicz off his own bowling. The batsman failed to connect a pull and merely lobbed the ball back towards the bowler, who dived full length to snap the sharp chance. (254-5)

Yuvraj was trapped leg-before two balls later and Zaheer, promoted up the order, was run-out after failing to ground his bat.

Three wickets fell in the space of eight deliveries and India could never recover from the setback.

Mohammad Kaif was Andrew Symonds's third victim, bowled for 7 and India finally ended at 286 for 8 off their 50 overs.

India scored 26 boundaries to Australia's 28 but played 151 dot balls to Australia's 126. Australia had 8 sixes to India's three.

India lost the match in the mind at the halfway stage and it is worth considering what would have happened had India had scored singles off half those dot balls (151) or, maybe, if had matched Ponting's seven sixes.

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