March 26, 2001

Confident Indians fight through tight situations

On a day when both India and Australia made a lot of mistakes on the field, the home team won by a big margin in the end thereby gaining a 1-0 lead in the five match one-day series. Ganguly started off the series of mistakes by spooning a catch to short cover and the brief innings of his suggested that he was struggling with his footwork. Tendulkar established his authority over McGrath with scintillating shots and his run out gave Australia the much-needed respite. Laxman batted with great confidence and he got carried away with his touch by holing out in the deep. Dravid had the task of bringing some stability and sanity into the Indian innings as the top three batsmen indicated that they were intent on smashing each and every delivery to the fence.

The Indians maintained a good run rate but lost wickets at regular intervals when Virender Shewag, the stocky all-rounder from Delhi walked into bat. The remarkable aspect about his batting was that he played as he normally plays without getting fazed by the situation. Agreed that there was every chance of him messing up the situation by getting out because of his aggression but yesterday was his day and his half-century could not have come at a better time. He flourished in the company of Dravid who showed that he is capable of getting runs quickly in the one-dayers provided he is left to his own devices. The partnership between Shewag and Dravid broke whatever resilience the Aussies had, but their spirit was completely broken by the street-smart cricketer Vijay Dahiya. Dahiya coming back into the side played according to the situation of the game as he normally does and that is the reason he is such a useful cricketer to have.

The pitch was loaded totally in favour of the batsmen and the hosts would not have been too sure about restricting the Aussies. Mark Waugh has been the key figure whenever the Australians chased big targets successfully and his early dismissal was not what the Aussies wanted. Matthew Hayden continued his good form and he along with Bevan the champion one-day batsman went about the task in a methodical manner. The Bevan-Hayden partnership at one stage looked like making a mockery of the huge target as they got the runs at will. Ganguly brought himself on and he was successful in breaking the partnership as he has done often in the past. This was the major turning point in the Australian innings and with Hayden falling shortly to Shewag, the Australians lost their way. There were a couple of doubtful decisions but the Aussies were nowhere near the target in the end. The difference at Bangalore was the confidence of the Indians as they fought through every tight situation.

The hosts looked more purposeful and appeared to be enjoying the game and the body language suggested that they have got rid of the awe about the Australians. Still the Indians have a few things to work upon, especially the fielding and throwing. It was good to see the youngsters coming to the rescue as Shewag did yesterday and if this kind of attitude prevails amongst them, then the team management can't ask for more. So much so that Robin Singh was left out and this is where the think tank has to have a second thought. There is no point in keeping the senior most cricketer in the reserves after picking him in the squad. A youngster would benefit more by being in the reserves rather than someone like Robin Singh. Going by what happened at Bangalore, the Indians would be better off bringing in deserving youngsters thick and fast.