Australia v India, 1st Test, MCG, 4th day December 29, 2007

Choking to win

India weren't blasted out of this Test, as a 337-run margin would suggest, but squeezed out of it
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Australia are mastering the art of choking India's batsmen with unconventional field placements © Getty Images
 

There was a time in the morning session, when Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman were in the middle, when Stuart Clark bowled with a short mid-on and two short midwickets, a semi-circle of three waiting for a chip in the air. Mitchell Johnson, bowling at the other end, operated with a staggered slip cordon containing five catchers and Andrew Symonds, brought on soon, was operating with a short midwicket, a lone third slip, and two short extra covers.

It was gimmicky but must have also been suffocating. India weren't blasted out of this Test, as a 337-run margin would suggest, but squeezed out of it. Ironically, in an innings where they went at a shade above two an over, five of their batsmen succumbed to the drive. They were choked with accurate bowling, tight field-settings and were trapped when trying to break out of jail. Even when India were seven down, there was just one slip in place. Often there were two points in place, prompting one hack to joke, 'one backward point and one awkward point.' The plan wasn't to intimidate but to cage.

Rewind to the series opener in Bangalore three years ago and things weren't too different. Unlike in 2001 and 2003-04, when the approach was more upbeat, the 2004-05 series was more about slow-burn. Australia weren't going to come out with all guns firing; it was more about turning the screw gradually.

It was a similar kind of pitch in Bangalore: unresponsive for stroke-making and getting slower and lower as the game went on. The weather wasn't too different either. Australia had their plans in place and executed it perfectly. Take out Virender Sehwag and you had a set of Indian batsmen who didn't try too much to upset the strategy. Conventional wisdom tells you to stay there for the runs to come but India needed to break out of the mould. Three years later and they walked into the same trap yet again. South Africa might claim the 'chokers' tag but Australia are mastering the art of choking India's batsmen.

 
 
Australia weren't going to come out with all guns firing; it was more about turning the screw gradually
 

The problem India have is their stay-and-the-runs-will-come approach has worked well in overseas Tests recently. They ground their way through the England series, with efficient and not spectacular performances, and saw the same work for most part of the recent series against Pakistan as well. Opposition bowlers have not been able to maintain the same intensity for too long. Opposition captains haven't had that many strategies up their sleeve.

"If you are looking to win Test matches you need a positive and healthy run-rate," said Anil Kumble, not shying away from the root of the problem. "Obviously the conditions did not help. The way the Aussies bowled and us losing wickets at regular intervals didn't help. But whenever we had a partnership we were scoring at a healthy rate so we just needed one batter going on to get a big score. It's just a matter of going out there and batting freely. We didn't do that in our two innings."

It's a fair assessment. The Tendulkar-Laxman and Laxman-Ganguly stand saw runs being scored at more than three an over. Australia, though, seemed to know a means to get through. Just as Dravid and Laxman appeared to have settled into a groove, you had Symonds changing from medium-pace to offspin. Three balls later, Dravid was trapped in front. Sachin Tendulkar showed the right intent, trying to push the rate on, but Brett Lee had a trick up his sleeve: bounce, bounce, bounce and throw it short and wide. Trying to break the shackles, Tendulkar nicked.

Laxman was up against one that stopped on him, saw his handle turn in his wrists, and popped one straight to extra cover. He was caught at a conventional field position but you would think it was the mind-games that might have put him off track. It's tough to adjust to a freakish field in one over and an orthodox one in the next.

If there's anyone to break open these handcuffs, it's Laxman. Look at his masterpieces against Australia - the 167 in Sydney in 1999, the 281 in Kolkata in 2001, the 178 in Sydney in 2004, and a few others - and you have a batsman not afraid to pull, charge or drive on the up. He's shown the power of an unfettered approach. India need to free their minds; it's the only way they're going to get anywhere in this series.

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • dead-ducky on December 30, 2007, 8:41 GMT

    Hey!

    Come on, I beleive India can do much well despite being a ardent Pakistani fan :P. Stop bashing the poor Indians. We should NOT jump to the conclusions that when a team looses it because its not a bunch of patriotric die hard players. Indians have a much better playing capacity they need to fuel the fire within. When we lost to India in India (recently) it doesnt mean we had a unpatroitic bunch of players, it was merely because Indians played alot better and we respect that.

    AN honest morale booster for the Indian team is to switch over to Cricinfo and read the latest post by Sydney Boy... if that doesnt pump them up NOTHING ever will!!!

    BEST OF LUCK INDIA... REGARDS an Ardent Pak Fan... its time to kick some much needed Aussie a*s :)

  • Shaju.K on December 30, 2007, 8:17 GMT

    Yes, I am an Indian.. But not surprised with the result. With the kind of team that indian selectors had opted for the first test, we can't expect a better result. First of all there is no logic in bringing Sehwag to sit aside and ask Dravid to open. They are just disturbing Dravid who is struggling to find his confidence back & retain his spot in the team. He was not consistent thoughout the Pak series. Now another failure here. How could the selectors justify his place in the team for next test at SCG? Also there is no point to blame Yuvi at this stage. Ofcourse he is a special talent and those who want to stamp him as a one day specialist is not doing it with the right intention. The cry to remove the Big 3, whenever a match fails also can't be justified. What the selectors need to do for the next test is to think logically to include Sehwag on cost of Harbhajan considering the nature of Aussie conditions. Otherwise the selectors will be the real losers here, not the players....

  • Roofus on December 30, 2007, 7:41 GMT

    NO amount of player changes will help this indian team. The simple fact is that they have not allowed their batsmen any time to adapt to aus conditions . After struggling with anything short or at the body on a slow low MCG pitch I shudder to think of the possible carnage in store on a WACA pitch which has pace and bounce unlike anything India has encounted before. With the possible inclusion of Shaun Tait(the fastest bowler in the world) Aus would have assembled the fastest bowling group since the great West Indies. If India fail to come to terms with the pace of Aus pitches by Perth, the scares both mental and physical could have long lasting effects on future indian tours of Aus.

  • Virtual_Coach on December 30, 2007, 7:07 GMT

    How India Lost the Match? Indians have started the game negatively, even after they are on top of the game on the first day. There is no team(even Zimbabwe)in the world will score just 31 runs in 22 overs after pushing the opponents to a below average score like 343.Iam still amused by the nature of mindset of people like Dravid and Kumble.When the opposition team is trying to apply the pressure on these people, these people are magnifying that pressure. This leads to the negative play.Dont say that Australians bowled too good.Dont you say there is not even a single ball to score in the 63 dot balls faced by Dravid in the first innings.If u play an innings like this even when ur team is on top of the game,How can u play in the pressure situations.A player of Dravid's calibre should not feel like I will get out if I play my shots.Dravid,there is no bowler will get you out when you are on top of your game,its ur mindset which is getting you out.To play aussies, attack their first ball

  • debugger on December 30, 2007, 6:41 GMT

    India needs to understand that playing two spinners in Australia is never going to bring in victory. Harbajan should not be picked for the tests and only if Kumble has an injury should he have been playing. Even the great Murali couldn't pick up 4 wickets in the recent two tests. Even if Kumble feels that the pitch might favour spin, you are there to handle it. but u need three pacers in your team.. Irfan is the choice for harbajan and viru for yuvraj. If yuvraj still gets his chance, then he really has to play aggressive cricket...

  • niraj13 on December 30, 2007, 6:19 GMT

    Much has been talked about Australia's brilliant bowling and India's poor batting performance after Australia's remarkable win at MCG. However, few noticed the role openers Hayden and Jaques played in this match. They scored 288 runs between them in this game. Take these runs out and you would have a totally different picture. At Sydney, Kumble and co. should come up with some plot of breaking this opening partnership quickly and unsettle the Aussies. Although the aussie batting lineup has tremendous talent and tenacity to handle the early loss of openers, but still this could help given the current form of these batsmen. India need to bring in Sehwag or Karthik in place of Yuvraj and put Dravid at his usual #3 spot. Yuvraj was a total failure and for that, poor Dravid was forced in the opening slot. And would someone please tell 'sydneyboy' that cricket is NOT India's national sport and who knows, after overcoming the new atmosphere blues, India will crush Australia's b***s!!! at SCG.

  • HP25252 on December 30, 2007, 5:24 GMT

    Really a match Australia won with such easy stillshows Pakistan team goes outfighting while the Indians when try to overthink the opponents fall hard. India should just have flat pitches an only play games at their country where all these stars look like celebrities.

  • sydneyboy on December 30, 2007, 5:02 GMT

    As an aussie, I cannot believe how poorly India aplayed. in fact i would go as far as saying they were disgraceful!!!! as the national sport of India and with a population of 1 200000000 people with over 130 million registered players, you guys should be smashing us. Cricket in Australia has to compete with Rugby union, Rugby league, Australian Rules and soccer for junior players and our population is just over 20 million ( about the population of Mumbai!!) when an Australian represents his country he grows some balls and has fire in his belly and will fight for victory. Nothing but a win is good enough. See who always wins the commonwealth games. The answer is Australia. Watching you guys in Melbourne was nothing short of humiliating for your nation. they need to step up the tempo and grow some balls!!! If this is the national team of your national sport, then you guys should go play something else!!!

  • Nickz on December 30, 2007, 4:34 GMT

    First of all Indian players should keep in their mind that only India can defeat world champion Australia, if Indians look in the past they have got the highest innings total to date at the SCG ground is 7d/705 in 2004,so in this match India should remember that previous match which they played in SCG in 2004,I think India should pick Sehwag for the remaining matches as he is the only one who can give India an explosive start followed by Dravid, VVS Laxman should come on number 3,and also instead of Harbhajan Singh India should pick Irfan Pathan as he is excellent with reverse swing and quiet useful with bat as well when he comes on number 8. Where India has two part time spin bowlers Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag can be useful in the later days of the test match. Come on India, you still can win the series. Just play your natural game and don't play under pressure, be optimistic to win the series as it's now or never.

  • hardhitter71 on December 30, 2007, 4:00 GMT

    The art to beat Aussies is to deffy them. Rahul opens and starts with run rate of 1 run per over!! India needs somebody like Srikant to open the innings and take that slips cordon completely off. Keep them on the boundries and take your twoes and threes along with singles. Only Tendulkar played with this spirit. Maybe he needs to open with Gangully and play like they are chasing a score of 350 with a lot depending on them as opening pair.

    Submitting is like suicide and Rahul is not helping himself by opening with 1 run per over average and less then 20 runs per innings. Annoy aussies by a fresh new team with a new approach, all wanting to proove and win. Aussies have already figured out the vets. No point in playing them again and again, if they cannot innovate with centuries.

    BCCI cannot do this.

  • dead-ducky on December 30, 2007, 8:41 GMT

    Hey!

    Come on, I beleive India can do much well despite being a ardent Pakistani fan :P. Stop bashing the poor Indians. We should NOT jump to the conclusions that when a team looses it because its not a bunch of patriotric die hard players. Indians have a much better playing capacity they need to fuel the fire within. When we lost to India in India (recently) it doesnt mean we had a unpatroitic bunch of players, it was merely because Indians played alot better and we respect that.

    AN honest morale booster for the Indian team is to switch over to Cricinfo and read the latest post by Sydney Boy... if that doesnt pump them up NOTHING ever will!!!

    BEST OF LUCK INDIA... REGARDS an Ardent Pak Fan... its time to kick some much needed Aussie a*s :)

  • Shaju.K on December 30, 2007, 8:17 GMT

    Yes, I am an Indian.. But not surprised with the result. With the kind of team that indian selectors had opted for the first test, we can't expect a better result. First of all there is no logic in bringing Sehwag to sit aside and ask Dravid to open. They are just disturbing Dravid who is struggling to find his confidence back & retain his spot in the team. He was not consistent thoughout the Pak series. Now another failure here. How could the selectors justify his place in the team for next test at SCG? Also there is no point to blame Yuvi at this stage. Ofcourse he is a special talent and those who want to stamp him as a one day specialist is not doing it with the right intention. The cry to remove the Big 3, whenever a match fails also can't be justified. What the selectors need to do for the next test is to think logically to include Sehwag on cost of Harbhajan considering the nature of Aussie conditions. Otherwise the selectors will be the real losers here, not the players....

  • Roofus on December 30, 2007, 7:41 GMT

    NO amount of player changes will help this indian team. The simple fact is that they have not allowed their batsmen any time to adapt to aus conditions . After struggling with anything short or at the body on a slow low MCG pitch I shudder to think of the possible carnage in store on a WACA pitch which has pace and bounce unlike anything India has encounted before. With the possible inclusion of Shaun Tait(the fastest bowler in the world) Aus would have assembled the fastest bowling group since the great West Indies. If India fail to come to terms with the pace of Aus pitches by Perth, the scares both mental and physical could have long lasting effects on future indian tours of Aus.

  • Virtual_Coach on December 30, 2007, 7:07 GMT

    How India Lost the Match? Indians have started the game negatively, even after they are on top of the game on the first day. There is no team(even Zimbabwe)in the world will score just 31 runs in 22 overs after pushing the opponents to a below average score like 343.Iam still amused by the nature of mindset of people like Dravid and Kumble.When the opposition team is trying to apply the pressure on these people, these people are magnifying that pressure. This leads to the negative play.Dont say that Australians bowled too good.Dont you say there is not even a single ball to score in the 63 dot balls faced by Dravid in the first innings.If u play an innings like this even when ur team is on top of the game,How can u play in the pressure situations.A player of Dravid's calibre should not feel like I will get out if I play my shots.Dravid,there is no bowler will get you out when you are on top of your game,its ur mindset which is getting you out.To play aussies, attack their first ball

  • debugger on December 30, 2007, 6:41 GMT

    India needs to understand that playing two spinners in Australia is never going to bring in victory. Harbajan should not be picked for the tests and only if Kumble has an injury should he have been playing. Even the great Murali couldn't pick up 4 wickets in the recent two tests. Even if Kumble feels that the pitch might favour spin, you are there to handle it. but u need three pacers in your team.. Irfan is the choice for harbajan and viru for yuvraj. If yuvraj still gets his chance, then he really has to play aggressive cricket...

  • niraj13 on December 30, 2007, 6:19 GMT

    Much has been talked about Australia's brilliant bowling and India's poor batting performance after Australia's remarkable win at MCG. However, few noticed the role openers Hayden and Jaques played in this match. They scored 288 runs between them in this game. Take these runs out and you would have a totally different picture. At Sydney, Kumble and co. should come up with some plot of breaking this opening partnership quickly and unsettle the Aussies. Although the aussie batting lineup has tremendous talent and tenacity to handle the early loss of openers, but still this could help given the current form of these batsmen. India need to bring in Sehwag or Karthik in place of Yuvraj and put Dravid at his usual #3 spot. Yuvraj was a total failure and for that, poor Dravid was forced in the opening slot. And would someone please tell 'sydneyboy' that cricket is NOT India's national sport and who knows, after overcoming the new atmosphere blues, India will crush Australia's b***s!!! at SCG.

  • HP25252 on December 30, 2007, 5:24 GMT

    Really a match Australia won with such easy stillshows Pakistan team goes outfighting while the Indians when try to overthink the opponents fall hard. India should just have flat pitches an only play games at their country where all these stars look like celebrities.

  • sydneyboy on December 30, 2007, 5:02 GMT

    As an aussie, I cannot believe how poorly India aplayed. in fact i would go as far as saying they were disgraceful!!!! as the national sport of India and with a population of 1 200000000 people with over 130 million registered players, you guys should be smashing us. Cricket in Australia has to compete with Rugby union, Rugby league, Australian Rules and soccer for junior players and our population is just over 20 million ( about the population of Mumbai!!) when an Australian represents his country he grows some balls and has fire in his belly and will fight for victory. Nothing but a win is good enough. See who always wins the commonwealth games. The answer is Australia. Watching you guys in Melbourne was nothing short of humiliating for your nation. they need to step up the tempo and grow some balls!!! If this is the national team of your national sport, then you guys should go play something else!!!

  • Nickz on December 30, 2007, 4:34 GMT

    First of all Indian players should keep in their mind that only India can defeat world champion Australia, if Indians look in the past they have got the highest innings total to date at the SCG ground is 7d/705 in 2004,so in this match India should remember that previous match which they played in SCG in 2004,I think India should pick Sehwag for the remaining matches as he is the only one who can give India an explosive start followed by Dravid, VVS Laxman should come on number 3,and also instead of Harbhajan Singh India should pick Irfan Pathan as he is excellent with reverse swing and quiet useful with bat as well when he comes on number 8. Where India has two part time spin bowlers Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag can be useful in the later days of the test match. Come on India, you still can win the series. Just play your natural game and don't play under pressure, be optimistic to win the series as it's now or never.

  • hardhitter71 on December 30, 2007, 4:00 GMT

    The art to beat Aussies is to deffy them. Rahul opens and starts with run rate of 1 run per over!! India needs somebody like Srikant to open the innings and take that slips cordon completely off. Keep them on the boundries and take your twoes and threes along with singles. Only Tendulkar played with this spirit. Maybe he needs to open with Gangully and play like they are chasing a score of 350 with a lot depending on them as opening pair.

    Submitting is like suicide and Rahul is not helping himself by opening with 1 run per over average and less then 20 runs per innings. Annoy aussies by a fresh new team with a new approach, all wanting to proove and win. Aussies have already figured out the vets. No point in playing them again and again, if they cannot innovate with centuries.

    BCCI cannot do this.

  • emailronnie6 on December 30, 2007, 2:42 GMT

    I am echoing with most of the comments to drop Yuvi in the tests. Time and again we have seen him fail in tests on fast pitches oversees (nicking behind to the slip cordon). Bhajji deserves to go also, not having done anything of repute in the past several test series. I wonder where Murali Kartik is, having bowled beautifully to the aussies in the last several series, he deserves to bowl along with Kumble. The team management needs to think out of the box to give the aussies a decent fight.

  • chopramo on December 30, 2007, 2:37 GMT

    I think if the Indians don't change their conservative attitude they will loose the series 4-0. The team and attitude that India needs to beat the Aussies is as follows: Sehwag, Jaffer, Dravid, Tendulkar, VVS, Ganguly, Dhoni, Pathan, Kumble, Zaheer, RP. This gives 2 spinners: Sehwag and Kumble, Zaheer and RP to open the bowling with Pathan and Ganguly to follow. A strong bowling attack with a SOLID batting with a ATTACKING opener (Sehwag) and a attacking batsman in Pathan at #8 which can be the only way to beat the Aussies. Attack Attack Attack and you will win, otherwise there is no way to beat the Aussies. The proof is in front of you, The best batting line up in the world and after a long time a good bowling performance by the bowlers and we still couldnt do anything. Someone please pass on the message to the Indians please I beg you pick Sehwag, you have to, I can't bear to see the Indian team loose, knowing that they are the only ones who can beat the Aussies.

  • QUDSI on December 30, 2007, 1:11 GMT

    i think, India needs to work on their strategies. They did some mistakes and if they want to survive in this series which is looking almost impossible. They need to change their approach. The first mistake they did, putting Dravid as a opener which is i think the most craziest decision ever.The second mistake is, not gong in the field with Virender Sehwag. I will suggest dont try to upset dravid otherwise whole balance of the team will be destroyed and then it does't matter if u have Tendulkar or Ganguly in your line up.

  • Meracric on December 30, 2007, 0:54 GMT

    Hello, we had too much fun in deafeating Pakistan recently on a bad, slow and tricky non-cricket playing pitches. Now its time to face chin music and play cricket on a real bouncy pitch. Had India played the Pak series on a better, true and Bouncy pitch @ home they would have been better prepared to face Australia. I hope they can learn from this deafeat and improve their performace in the next test.

  • anagram_ on December 29, 2007, 23:42 GMT

    Built4thekill, i agree with most of the points you raised, however, your idea of dropping laxman for sehwag is pretty ridiculous in my opinion. Laxman's consistency against australia heavily outweighs the need to bring in a more attacking batsmen- in fact, in this test, laxman was one of the only ones doing so. It's much more effective to take out Jaffer, let Sehwag open with Dravid, and thus balance the opening combination. Dravid can anchor the innings at one end, without feeling pressured to score, while Sehwag can blast away at the other end. If he gets out, bad luck, as Mark Taylor and Ian Chappell i think were saying yesterday - India have batting right down to number 8, kumble, so it's worth taking the risk with sehwag instead of jaffer in order to unsettle the aussies.

  • keencricketfan on December 29, 2007, 23:16 GMT

    Folks, when India went to play in ICC 20 over world cup, without sachin, dravid, rahul and Saurav, did anyone had guessed we will eventually win the trophy? Except for the diehard indian cricket fans, none of us gave them a chance. We won because some youngsters who were hungry to show thier skills, got their opportunity. Mind you those folks defeated Aussies twice in the championship. Those kind of blokes we are in need now. Perhaps the big 3's should step aside, make a way for these youngsters and assist in making the team for future. Let gets some fresh blood and some hunger in our team, that is biggest googly that we can rely on.

  • AgileEntrepreneur on December 29, 2007, 22:50 GMT

    *Now* everyone wants Sehwag in the team. *Now*. The problem with Indian cricket is rooted in the way the average Indians- selectors, cricketers and fans alike- think. I have been crying myself hoarse since they dropped him in *tests* - when he was failing consistently in ODIs but *excelling in tests*. In fact, ever since India decided to make Sehwag an opener, he has single-handedly led the charge several times by his positive and attacking game. An entire nation remained silent about the greatest Indian batsman in the past 5 years being axed from the test team. In reaction to Ian Chappel's column and the last-minute selection of Sehwag for the Australian tour, the vast majority of fans/readers on this forum opposed it. And no one made a peep on day one when Sehwag was not selected in the playing eleven. But *now*, while every one isinging the same tune- open with Sehwag, drop Yuvi, I would admire them more if they had consistently supported him.

  • madjag on December 29, 2007, 22:02 GMT

    May be the Indian cricketers should start focusing on their performance on the field, rather than off of it. Before the tour started, all I heard was how they were gonna fight fire with fire, and they were gonna prove themselves to be the hardest opposition Aussies would have faced in the recent years... blah blah blah. With the likes of Anil Kumble, Sreesanth, and other Indian players, seems to me they all know how to talk the talk, but have yet to learn to walk the walk. The way they played, it was simply pathetic, cant say I am surprised.

  • gaziBoy on December 29, 2007, 20:15 GMT

    I did not had a clue of what Team India was trying to do? Barring a miracle there was no way that Team could have scored those many runs. Miracles won't happen if you score 5 runs in 66 balls. "Himmate marda madad Khuday". Chasing 499 Team should have gone into batting in attacking mode. Well, even in attacking mode please don't play shots that Dhoni played in both the innings. I am not big fan of Sehwag but Yuvraj does not deserve a place before Sehwag in the Team in Australia. Please make Sehwag and Jaffer open. A big cheer for bowlers, good effort guys. Please don't (Batsmen) humiliate us once again. Even if you loose, loose with dignity.

  • sportsfan on December 29, 2007, 20:09 GMT

    I agree that India was too defensive in their batting. Dravid has always batted AGAINST India! The way he batted in this test match explains what I mean. He makes the opposing bowlers feel they are on top by the way he struggles to bat every time. This makes life difficult for the other batsmen who bat with and after him. He doesn't even take the shine off the ball as often leaves the ball alone. He may be averaging 55, but it is not worth as it disadvantages other batsman. He should be dropped from the team until he is willing to bat positively. India needs a batsman who could bat positively to open the batting and leave the Australian bowlers confused as to where to pitch the next ball. This would definitely help the other batsman even if the opener doesn't make a huge score. India needs a longer batting line up against Australia. Pathan would be a good number 8 and Kumble a good number 9. India should be looking for a run rate of 4 to make the series competitive

  • Built_4_the_Kill on December 29, 2007, 19:58 GMT

    The only problem of having bowlers as captain is that they probably will be excellent in the field however the dressing room strategies are usually out of there comfort zone. And Kumble just proved it. Yuvi no doubt is an excellent player and deserves every opportunity however to accomodate him by sacrificing the best test cricket player (Rahul) the world has seen in the recent past was nothing but stupidity. And India lost this match because of that stupidity.

    Why Rahul and why not Laxman, Sachin, Sourav, or Dhoni? An in-form Rahul is must if India want to have any success away from home. This is not my opinion infact this is what history (past ten years) tells us. My suggestions for second test are, 1. Drop Harbhajan and Luxman and bring Sehwag and Irfan into playing eleven, and 2. Drop Rahul to either at # 5 or # 6 in the batting order.

    If India want to win, each and every member of the team has to help Rahul to regain his form. Excuse me for typos :)

  • jackson_cricketbuff on December 29, 2007, 19:04 GMT

    the strategy didn't work.so let'S GO Back to the old fort.sehwag to open,the wall at three,sachin at 4,vvs at 5,dada at 6.i never believed in risking the wall for someone to give me 0 and 5.this is not pakistan.these aussies ask serious questions so we have to find serious answers and quickly as it won't get easier.if we pick yuvi for his 169 then pathan can stake a claim for his 102 and his bowling.finally thanks for the positive approach sachin,take the game to them and see how they buckle.

  • StumpMan on December 29, 2007, 19:00 GMT

    The Aussies deserved to win. Their stellar team play and intense professionalism is unmatched. The Indians need to focus on physical conditioning, mental maturity and for pete's sake... practice facing pace on bouncy pitches before leaving the country... try concrete pitches with a mat... add industrial strength fans to simulate wind/swing.... quite a pathetic performance!

  • diction_checker on December 29, 2007, 18:55 GMT

    karthik has certainly not been the best batsman on overseas tours. so stop saying that just cause u r tamil. the indian team should shut their mouths, put their heads together and contemplate on whether winning is more important on the pitch or in the media. the australians have certainly faught fire with fire, if at all that is what they received.

  • ismail32 on December 29, 2007, 18:39 GMT

    It was really painful watching india bat. As for the overall analysis, you just cant begin at where exactly we lost it.Everything went wrong(execept maybe the first day). With an experience of more than 100 tests, facing 60 deliveries for 5 or worse and then getting out is horrible by any standards. This should go down as one of the worst performances by any team ever. As for the batting line up, sehwag should come in place of dravid. The worry now is for the opening slot. By pushing dravid down and making another middle order bat to open is a case of doing something just for the sake of doing something. It would also give dravid time to analyze what the heck is happening to him. He should remember what he said during the tour of south africa when match winners like pathan, raina, sehwag and kaif werent performing. I quote his pearls of wisdom "WE WOULD BE DOING THEM MORE HARM BY CONTINUING TO PLAY THEM".

  • sanjay74 on December 29, 2007, 18:29 GMT

    Anil It is high time the batting order is settled .Dravid the most reliable batsman should not be shuffled around like this just because he is a team man to the core.If Sehwag has been taken to Australia it should be to open and not watch the game for a batsman like Yuvraj who is yet to prove credentials in the longer version.If Yuvraj has to be accomodated he should go out to open,why sacrifice your best batsman just because he will do anything for team cause.Why cant you ask Sachin to open,he does it in one dayers!!!!! We better decide on our openers fast and give them a long run.The bowling is lacking the firepower upfront.Maybe we get to see a better performance from them on faster tracks . The subcontinent heroes are showing true colours on overseas tracks.We all know who and we dont need to point individuals.Give our best batsman overseas an oppurtunity to prove at the position he deserves and that he has proved time and again

  • umesh_srinivasan on December 29, 2007, 18:05 GMT

    India should now concentrate on the tests ahead. Sehwag should be included as an opener and the middle order should be what it was during the Pakistan series. Yuvi should be made to understand about the requirements of the team at present which has no room for him. The bowlers have done a commendable job and should be persisted with,the SCG is usually spinner friendly.One gone,but three more to make amends.

  • debugger on December 29, 2007, 17:13 GMT

    India main problem was that they never counterattacked. In first innings when Australia batted, India bowled beautifully keeping it tight. Then Hayden began to counterattack and that gave Australia breathing space. Viru should have played in all four tests and Harbajan should have been dropped. Viru is one batsman not afraid to go over the top.. Please push dravid down to 6, drop yuvi and bring in extra seamer. yuvraj is still not suited for test cricket. he was shivering in his boots when he was batting!!!

  • bharath_usa on December 29, 2007, 17:08 GMT

    Isnt test cricket about drawing as much as winning it. I thought the track was a really difficult one, and India would have morally won the test had they even taken it to a draw. Which makes me wonder why so many articles in cricinfo are criticising Dravid for his slow rate of scoring. In comparison to Dravid's will to stay and tire it out in the pitch, the likes of tendulkar were trying to play bluff with the pitch and the aussie bowlers. Result, most of them lasted barely a few overs. Test cricket is all about surviving in the most difficult circumstances, wearing out the opponents and saving a match as much as winning one. Dravid stayed there for 114 balls and almost saw the team through to lunch. I thought it was the making of a great test innings which was cut short by the guile of symonds and ponting. As for the rest of the bastmen in the Indian side, they were in a collective hurry to catch the earlier flight to sydney.

  • Shams on December 29, 2007, 17:00 GMT

    India should drop Yuvraj and open with Sehwag. This will allow all the other batsmen to return to their natural batting positions. There might also be debate over Harbhajan or a third seamer.

  • Udaypatel on December 29, 2007, 16:59 GMT

    if you wnat to play yuvi, open him. he is taking a openers spot in team to begin with. It might work with yuvi having the license to go for his shots with jaffer at other end. yuvi is in the team due to popularity and pressure or media and public. If everytime a person got a hundred and he would play the next game, aust would have a huge problem on hand. take a cue from aust, hodge had scored a hundred in the world cup game but was dropped the next because symonds was coming back. Yuvi has to wait his turn if he wants to bat in middle order. If he wants to open sure go ahead, let him open with jaffer. another gamble that might be worth it, is having sachin OPEN.

  • Harinder_Jadwani on December 29, 2007, 16:58 GMT

    Who's calling the shots on this tour, I wonder..... The decision not to play Sehwag, probably made on his recent poor run in domestic cricket, was a bad one.....Sehwag was one of Australia's destroyers in the last tour here, and in Melbourne scored 195 on the first day after being hit twice by Lee....Even if he is not the same guy, he should have been played, and should be played in Sydney....we are never going to get a good start with Dravid, who is mentally out of sorts as well..

    Drop Dravid for Sehwag..

    Thirdly, play Irfan Pathan - who can bat as well....consider dropping Jaffer for Pathan....Jaffer's technique may not be enough for Australis....but Pathan's aggressiveness and positivity may be.....The Australians Ƨhoked' India with tight bowling and fielding....but the overly defensive approach of India helped this.....Indian batsmen need to go after the Australian bowling - the fast bowling that is - not just Hogg who is much better than people think - and better than MacGill...

  • Nipun on December 29, 2007, 16:56 GMT

    India's batting strategy for the next test :- (1)Pray from the core of the heart that Australian bowlers have a bad test,otherwise it's gonna be 16 in a row for the Aussies anyway... (2)Get the batting order sorted out with Jaffer & Karthik at opening,Dravid at 3,Tendulkar at 4..............If Yuvraj has to stake a claim in the lineup then he must open..there is no logic in disrupting the whole order just to accomodate one player in the team at his favourite position...let's look back at how Justin Langer became an opener for Australia... (3)The players must take the attack to the Aussies.....if Dravid keeps on batting the way he did in MCG even if he bats at 3,then there is no point in keeping him in the team.....Attack should be the only mantra in Australia.....

  • iconmanish on December 29, 2007, 16:22 GMT

    Yuvraj should be given chance. Yuvraj and Dhoni are the only players who can score quickly and finish off the innings. The kind of form in which Dravid is, he should be dropped and Sehwag should open the innings.

  • Mohusen on December 29, 2007, 16:19 GMT

    Caught like "Rabbits in headlights". The most gutless, spineless performance from the Indian Cricket team in the recent past. Dravid looked like he was playing as an opener under protest. All the pre-tour talk about attacking cricket was just hot air. Kumble's captaincy was awful, not one over of spin from Yuvi who as a batsman looked totally out of his depth. Only Tendulkar & Ganguly came out with any credit & to lesser extent Zaheer & Kumble as bowlers. The rest were just amateurish. The signs are not good for the rest of the tour - it's men against boys.

  • sureshji on December 29, 2007, 16:06 GMT

    Pick Sehwag to open. Drop Yuvraj. Bat Dravid at number six till he gets his confidence back. Don't pick Karthik as the Aussies have too much class for him.

  • Adonis1976 on December 29, 2007, 15:31 GMT

    There aere couple of mistakes Indians did with the team composition.. First of all.. Dravid is not a wicket you can sacrifice when and whenever.. Ideally they should have played Sehwag instead of Harbhajan. This brings strength to the top order and depth to batting line up. Sehwag, Tendulkar and Yuvraj are more than part time spinners.. Yuvraj was definitly underused as a bowler.. Maybe next Test gamble Pathan instead of RP Singh.. and have extra strength to batting..

    Going with orthodox style teams in each game.. is not going to get them a win.. they have to think out of box.

  • maco on December 29, 2007, 15:12 GMT

    Weakest Links in india batiing

    Yuvraj: he just dosent seem to know how to play quality spin,this has been his weakness for quite a long time, if we still persists with him our best option is to move him one down,he can play fast bowling rather than spin

    Jaffer: He dosent have technique on how to play on these pitches,he is totally unpredictable, the way he was out on both innings suggests that.Replace him with Dinesh Karthikwho has better technique and can play more freely

    Dhoni: His best option is to go and attack,he cant survive by nudging.He cant survive by wait and watch policy.

  • Kooja on December 29, 2007, 15:07 GMT

    I suspect we have the best 'Monday morning quarterbacking' strategists in India. I am not sure what Mr SV (Siddhartha V) means by unconventional field placements. All this crap about 'intelligent field placing' comes to nought if suddenly a few flowing drives find the fence and the run rate picks up. Whether someone is bowling accurately depends on what form of the game is being played - for instance, there was talk in the Oz press that spinners in 20/20 are useless. How so ? Spinners can be accurate in tests but not in 20/20 just because someone is swinging away ? Doesn't swinging away increase risk for batters ?

    The game is simple - it is these great thinkers that make it complicated ! Bowl accurately (field placements matter little otherwise) and for long spells, try to contain the batsmen (or batters, modern lingo) and take the catches that come your way. What else is there ? Einstein, anyone ?

    Dr Avasarala

  • S.Bharath on December 29, 2007, 15:00 GMT

    Hi,

    We have been psycholigically challenged when we were given a target of 499 with 2+ days to spare. I dont think even we as a team would do that against anyone.

    Application with temperment is very imporant for success. Our team has to work towards playing more positively. Both the innings showed how our batsmen were playing for a draw and not for a win. The entire team needs orientation of being 'Positive'.

    It was good to see few guys doing well but we did not have the team carrying baton from one another which happened with the Aussies...

    Let's learn from experience and work towards our goal being Positive...

    Regards...Bharath

  • RezaThahir on December 29, 2007, 14:58 GMT

    Pepper boy, you csnt blame anil for the batting order, this is the best batting order & the best team for this test. Have to blame the batsmen for their spinessless performance. I would select the same team with a different attitude in batting. Anyway i expect india to bounce back in sydney.

  • ab_zee on December 29, 2007, 14:43 GMT

    I think Dravid should come down 1 down , with sehwag included and yuvraj out. disadv of dravid as a opener , is that he plays like a wall - not the job requirement of an opener ....and which demoralised the best batting line up. Sehwag if he plays can make the opposition worry , and yuvraj should wait some more time for a test match recall.

    Dravid should realize that when he is regarded as a WALL - does not mean not to rotate strikes and play maidens after maidens , and wait for the other partner to take risk as it will jeopardise the non-strikes career.

    if you have to win against australia , team india needs to show courage.

    All the best for the 2nd test.

  • TMMM on December 29, 2007, 14:39 GMT

    Looking at the dismal batting performance in the first test, India should not sacrifice Dravid-Wall of India, exposing him at the top. Most of OZ bowlers have hardly played 5 tests and we need someone who attacks them before they dominate.There is no Mcgrath and Warne to run through opposition. Viru has done well in the past and he is perfect answer to the situation. Dravid should come at his regular no.3 position. Yuvi does not find a place in current line up hence there should not be experimentation against leading test team to accomodate him.India have not rotated the strike and looked for singles when the going was tough and made the bowlers dominate the proceedings.Wake up guys, lesson learnt should be implemented. Its India who stopped Australians winning streak last time ...pls do it again. You will not have this golden batting line up again... We need 1-1 in Sydney, as Perth will certainly favor Oz quicks. ALL THE BEST TEAM INDIA...GOOD LUCK.- TM - Dubai-Goa

  • chaitanya_lakkapragada on December 29, 2007, 13:55 GMT

    The thing about unconventional field placements is absolutely right.The problem for India's batsman is that they are not adept at taking singles and two's when the boundaries dry up.Add to that Australia's razor-sharp fielding and our reluctance to put more emphasis on running between the wickets.We do not have drop-and-run kind of batsman.The two short-midwicket strategy for Dravid is working out superbly for Australia.First and foremost somebody is got to disrupt Stuart Clark's rythm.I mean some body is gotta play a one-day shot early on in his spell to disturb his accuracy.Otherwise he is gonna get all over you.Sehwag is the best bet to do that kind of a thing. But the question is "Can he keep his wicket until Clark comes into bowl?".Much has been made about yuvraj's ability but as long as he is struggling to pick the spinners he can't become a good test player.He struggled against Dave Mohammad in WestIndies and now he looks at sea against hogg.

  • royce4 on December 29, 2007, 13:15 GMT

    This writer must have been watching another game to the one I saw. Australia played aggressively and confidently and won very easily as a result, not because they choked India and played defensively or "squeezed" them out of it. The Indian batting folded like origami, the bowling was carried by Kumble and their ground fielding was atrocious. Batting strategy? How about this instead: a couple of solid days practicing the fielding and then picking four bowlers who can take 20 wickets between them. I note that there was no mention of the run-out of Harbhajan, which epitomised the difference between the two teams; it is Australia's focus on the fundamentals of the game that keeps them ahead of the rest.

  • pepper_boy on December 29, 2007, 12:07 GMT

    Hey Anil, Please stop meddling with batting order. You sacrificed the Wall and Laxman for the sake of accomadating Yuvi, who has just a hundred against a depleted Pak in home ground, backing his claim. Put in Viru and say, he has all the three games to play, or put in Karthik, your best bat in the near overseas seasons, but give time to adapt. Never open with Dravid and if you still want to accomadate Yuvi, ask Laxman to open. He has done it before.

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  • pepper_boy on December 29, 2007, 12:07 GMT

    Hey Anil, Please stop meddling with batting order. You sacrificed the Wall and Laxman for the sake of accomadating Yuvi, who has just a hundred against a depleted Pak in home ground, backing his claim. Put in Viru and say, he has all the three games to play, or put in Karthik, your best bat in the near overseas seasons, but give time to adapt. Never open with Dravid and if you still want to accomadate Yuvi, ask Laxman to open. He has done it before.

  • royce4 on December 29, 2007, 13:15 GMT

    This writer must have been watching another game to the one I saw. Australia played aggressively and confidently and won very easily as a result, not because they choked India and played defensively or "squeezed" them out of it. The Indian batting folded like origami, the bowling was carried by Kumble and their ground fielding was atrocious. Batting strategy? How about this instead: a couple of solid days practicing the fielding and then picking four bowlers who can take 20 wickets between them. I note that there was no mention of the run-out of Harbhajan, which epitomised the difference between the two teams; it is Australia's focus on the fundamentals of the game that keeps them ahead of the rest.

  • chaitanya_lakkapragada on December 29, 2007, 13:55 GMT

    The thing about unconventional field placements is absolutely right.The problem for India's batsman is that they are not adept at taking singles and two's when the boundaries dry up.Add to that Australia's razor-sharp fielding and our reluctance to put more emphasis on running between the wickets.We do not have drop-and-run kind of batsman.The two short-midwicket strategy for Dravid is working out superbly for Australia.First and foremost somebody is got to disrupt Stuart Clark's rythm.I mean some body is gotta play a one-day shot early on in his spell to disturb his accuracy.Otherwise he is gonna get all over you.Sehwag is the best bet to do that kind of a thing. But the question is "Can he keep his wicket until Clark comes into bowl?".Much has been made about yuvraj's ability but as long as he is struggling to pick the spinners he can't become a good test player.He struggled against Dave Mohammad in WestIndies and now he looks at sea against hogg.

  • TMMM on December 29, 2007, 14:39 GMT

    Looking at the dismal batting performance in the first test, India should not sacrifice Dravid-Wall of India, exposing him at the top. Most of OZ bowlers have hardly played 5 tests and we need someone who attacks them before they dominate.There is no Mcgrath and Warne to run through opposition. Viru has done well in the past and he is perfect answer to the situation. Dravid should come at his regular no.3 position. Yuvi does not find a place in current line up hence there should not be experimentation against leading test team to accomodate him.India have not rotated the strike and looked for singles when the going was tough and made the bowlers dominate the proceedings.Wake up guys, lesson learnt should be implemented. Its India who stopped Australians winning streak last time ...pls do it again. You will not have this golden batting line up again... We need 1-1 in Sydney, as Perth will certainly favor Oz quicks. ALL THE BEST TEAM INDIA...GOOD LUCK.- TM - Dubai-Goa

  • ab_zee on December 29, 2007, 14:43 GMT

    I think Dravid should come down 1 down , with sehwag included and yuvraj out. disadv of dravid as a opener , is that he plays like a wall - not the job requirement of an opener ....and which demoralised the best batting line up. Sehwag if he plays can make the opposition worry , and yuvraj should wait some more time for a test match recall.

    Dravid should realize that when he is regarded as a WALL - does not mean not to rotate strikes and play maidens after maidens , and wait for the other partner to take risk as it will jeopardise the non-strikes career.

    if you have to win against australia , team india needs to show courage.

    All the best for the 2nd test.

  • RezaThahir on December 29, 2007, 14:58 GMT

    Pepper boy, you csnt blame anil for the batting order, this is the best batting order & the best team for this test. Have to blame the batsmen for their spinessless performance. I would select the same team with a different attitude in batting. Anyway i expect india to bounce back in sydney.

  • S.Bharath on December 29, 2007, 15:00 GMT

    Hi,

    We have been psycholigically challenged when we were given a target of 499 with 2+ days to spare. I dont think even we as a team would do that against anyone.

    Application with temperment is very imporant for success. Our team has to work towards playing more positively. Both the innings showed how our batsmen were playing for a draw and not for a win. The entire team needs orientation of being 'Positive'.

    It was good to see few guys doing well but we did not have the team carrying baton from one another which happened with the Aussies...

    Let's learn from experience and work towards our goal being Positive...

    Regards...Bharath

  • Kooja on December 29, 2007, 15:07 GMT

    I suspect we have the best 'Monday morning quarterbacking' strategists in India. I am not sure what Mr SV (Siddhartha V) means by unconventional field placements. All this crap about 'intelligent field placing' comes to nought if suddenly a few flowing drives find the fence and the run rate picks up. Whether someone is bowling accurately depends on what form of the game is being played - for instance, there was talk in the Oz press that spinners in 20/20 are useless. How so ? Spinners can be accurate in tests but not in 20/20 just because someone is swinging away ? Doesn't swinging away increase risk for batters ?

    The game is simple - it is these great thinkers that make it complicated ! Bowl accurately (field placements matter little otherwise) and for long spells, try to contain the batsmen (or batters, modern lingo) and take the catches that come your way. What else is there ? Einstein, anyone ?

    Dr Avasarala

  • maco on December 29, 2007, 15:12 GMT

    Weakest Links in india batiing

    Yuvraj: he just dosent seem to know how to play quality spin,this has been his weakness for quite a long time, if we still persists with him our best option is to move him one down,he can play fast bowling rather than spin

    Jaffer: He dosent have technique on how to play on these pitches,he is totally unpredictable, the way he was out on both innings suggests that.Replace him with Dinesh Karthikwho has better technique and can play more freely

    Dhoni: His best option is to go and attack,he cant survive by nudging.He cant survive by wait and watch policy.

  • Adonis1976 on December 29, 2007, 15:31 GMT

    There aere couple of mistakes Indians did with the team composition.. First of all.. Dravid is not a wicket you can sacrifice when and whenever.. Ideally they should have played Sehwag instead of Harbhajan. This brings strength to the top order and depth to batting line up. Sehwag, Tendulkar and Yuvraj are more than part time spinners.. Yuvraj was definitly underused as a bowler.. Maybe next Test gamble Pathan instead of RP Singh.. and have extra strength to batting..

    Going with orthodox style teams in each game.. is not going to get them a win.. they have to think out of box.