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Australia v India, 2nd Test, Sydney, 4th day
Shastri: 275 can be the perfect target
January 5, 2008
Matthew Hayden's ton sets up what could be a potentially exciting run-chase
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Ravi Shastri: "Harbhajan Singh bowled extremely well today and was unlucky not to pick up more wickets" © Getty Images

Akhila Ranganna: Hello and welcome to Cricinfo Talk. I have with me former Indian captain, Ravi Shastri to look back on the fourth day's play at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Ravi, India would have thought that they had a foot in the door with the quick wickets of Phil Jaques and Ricky Ponting but it was that Matthew Hayden-Michael Hussey partnership that thwarted them, particularly the way Hayden played.

Ravi Shastri: I thought Hayden batted magnificently. It wasn't easy out there; Australia had lost a couple of early wickets and the momentum [of the game] was such that if Hayden hadn't played the way he did, India could have well seized the opportunity and taken a lot more wickets. I thought he batted magnificently simply because he never gave India the impression that Australia were going to be cautious. He took the attack to the Indian bowlers, he didn't allow the spinners to settle down inspite of certain tactics which demanded being watchful: there was a packed on-side field and the ball was being pitched outside the leg stump where it was turning from. On another day you would have seen a lot of other batsmen just waiting for the loose ball but that didn't happen with Hayden. He was proactive, at times he even took the calculated risk of reverse-sweeping, and he batted beautifully.

AR: You've spoken about the importance of Hayden's innings. How did you think the Indian bowlers bowled, especially during that partnership? Anil Kumble was a touch disappointing today.

RS: Yes, Kumble was a little off-colour today but I thought that Harbhajan Singh bowled extremely well. On another day he could have taken five or six wickets. He was unlucky today; he beat the bat on numerous occasions, there were top edges that didn't land in the hands of the fielders, but I thought he stuck to his task and did a pretty good job. If anything, I would have liked to see him bowl from a little more around the wicket to Hayden. I think he over-bowled himself from the over the wicket. But otherwise, I thought the Indian bowlers stuck to their task. You saw that once Hayden was dismissed, suddenly Michael Clarke also went; Andrew Symonds came in and the ball was turning and bouncing so it wasn't all that easy [for the batsmen]. Hussey is a true professional. He knows his limitations and he understands his strengths. He took his time early on and after that he was the busy player we all know him to be, so it was a typical Hussey innings.

AR: It could prove to be a tricky run chase for India. Australia have a lead of 213, what sort of a target do you think they will be looking to set the Indians?

RS: I was a little surprised that the Australian batsmen took the light when it was offered to them today with four-five overs still left to be bowled. I guess the tactics will be to leave themselves 80-85 overs to bowl at India. Seeing the way Australia play their cricket, with a Perth Test to follow, ideally a target of 275 would be just perfect. It sets up the match nicely and it will also give you a chance to winning the game as well.

AR: Ravi, yesterday you had spoken about the importance of India not getting into a draw mindset early on. How do you think they should approach the chase, when it happens?

RS: It all depends on what the run-chase is. It's a day-five track and you don't want to think too far ahead. What's important from India's point of view will be to get off to a good start and not lose too many early wickets. If you lose a couple of wickets, then you can forget the run-chase. All you are going to do is try and draw the game and that will allow the opposition to really climb on you.

AR: Ravi, thank you for your views. We'll hear from you again tomorrow. Till then, it's good bye.

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