Akhila Ranganna: Hello and welcome to Cricinfo Talk, I have with me former India captain, Ravi Shastri to look back on what was a very exciting albeit controversial Sydney Test.
Ravi, the controversies apart, this Test will go down as one that saw a very good game of cricket - some excellent batting and disciplined bowling.
Ravi Shastri: You are absolutely right. Full marks should go to the curator for providing a pitch that lasted five days. It was still good towards the end of the Test, but just had enough in it for a side to win, to take 20 wickets. That's exactly what happened - it was gripping Test cricket, absorbing all the way. Yes, you had the controversies, but at the end of the day it was cricket that was the winner.
AR: But Ravi, the contentious umpiring will hog the headlines tomorrow. Two crucial decisions involving Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly could have made the difference between a draw and a loss.
RS: It could have made a huge difference. Make no mistake about this, India has got the rough end of the stick in this Test. To say that would actually be an understatement because Australia should have been bowled out for less than 250 in their first innings. It's very easy to say, at the end of it all, that it is a part and parcel of the game and you have to get on with it but when you have so many mistakes in one game that go against you, it's not easy to digest. I'm sure the Indians will be disappointed. Having said that I still thought it was a pretty weak performance from them in the second innings. The track was still good enough for them to be able to try and save the game.
AR: You've spoken about the umpiring. Even when technology was used, the wrong decision was arrived at, taking the word of the fielder on the ground too didn't work. What do you think the way forward should be now?
RS: I think the way forward should be to have a bigger panel [of Elite umpires]. At the moment if you are just going to stick to eight and you are going to tell me that these are the best umpires in the world, then there is plenty of room for improvement. I think referrals will have to come into play because you have got to move on if there is some technology available. Yes, people will say it [technology] is not conclusive, but for certain decisions which are blatant mistakes and which can be seen on the monitor, they should be overruled and rectified from the top itself.
AR: Umpiring decisions apart, the Australian bowlers pegged away at the Indian batsmen and considering the Indian batsmen had made 500 in their first innings, the way they folded in the second innings would have been disappointing and somewhat unexpected.
RS: Yes it wasn't really expected, but then it was a fifth day track and Australia had the ammunition to put pressure on India. I, for one, really thought that Ricky Ponting had delayed the declaration and had left it too late. I was thinking sometime around tea that he would have been kicking himself if India were eight or nine down and he was out of time and that could have well been the possibility.
Unfortunately Mahendra Singh Dhoni's dismissal came at the wrong time for India. He played with fire by not offering a shot, the umpire in question was Steve Bucknor, all the more reason why I thought he could have been a bit more sensible especially when he played so well, showing a stomach for a fight along with his captain, but in the end it wasn't to be. It wasn't a surprise seeing Michael Clarke being introduced into the attack. I thought if he had come in a little earlier to bowl, he could have been in business straightaway. Don't forget, he has got figures of 6 for 9 against India, which is his career-best, on a turning track in Mumbai.
AR: You've spoken about Anil Kumble's heroics. He lasted 111 deliveries but unfortunately couldn't get much support from those around him.
|I think India will be looking at the other available options pretty seriously. I think there is merit for someone like Dinesh Karthik and Virender Sehwag to be drafted into the side straightway|
RS: It's a fifth day track and if you are going to leave it to the tail you are asking for trouble. That's exactly what happened. It was the job of the top order to ensure they got the runs and helped India save this game. I would say that it was a gripping Test, but for me, the umpiring will stay etched in my memory.
AR: The form of Wasim Jaffer and Yuvraj Singh will a worry for India now, going into the Perth Test.
RS: That's absolutely correct, there is no question about that. I think India will be looking at the other options pretty seriously. I think there is merit for someone like Dinesh Karthik and Virender Sehwag to be drafted into the side straightway.
AR: India had Australia on the mat in this Test but couldn't capitalise on those big moments. Can they take anything out of this Test at all? How do you see them being able to motivate themselves, going into Perth?
RS: It is going to be very difficult from here on. Perth is Australia's backyard and to do well in Perth or play differently there or come back there is going to be a Herculean task. The positive India can take out is that they had Australia on the mat at 130 for 6, so if they bowl well, they can get the wickets and the fact they got the big score in the first innings will also be something that they can take out of this Test.
AR: Ravi, thank you for your views. We'll hear from you during the Perth Test, till then it's good bye.