March 28, 2001

Indian spin bowling was palpably ineffective

The Australians won the second one-dayer at Pune in a convincing manner with a solid performance in all the departments of the game. Starting off with the final playing eleven, the Aussies seemed to have gone into this game after a lot of meticulous planning. Shane Warne and Ponting, two established cricketers were dropped on current form, which sent a loud message to the others to get their act together. Though Steve Waugh looked a bit anxious on losing the toss, he managed the side well on the field with Tendulkar once again starting off in a ruthless fashion. The little champion has made it very clear that he will go after McGrath in the one-dayers right from Bangalore. He played some glorious shots off McGrath, which left the fast bowler just shaking his head in disbelief. It was finally Fleming who got rid of the dangerous Tendulkar and with Ganguly failing yet again, it was left to Dravid and Laxman to consolidate the innings.

Dravid and Laxman are yet to come to terms with running between the wickets and it was Dravid who was the first run out victim. Laxman himself got run out eventually but not before he was involved in a meaningful partnership with the young left-hander Badani. Badani walked out to bat when the Indian side was in a precarious situation but he got into the groove quickly. His temperament and maturity was on display and his maiden hundred would have satisfied even his detractors as far as his class is concerned. Badani was involved in a couple of run-outs during the course of his innings but the remarkable aspect was that he remained unperturbed apart from guiding the course of the innings. He got to his well-deserved century at the death and he lost his wicket in the quest for quick runs. The youngster would have remembered his maiden hundred more fondly had his side won the game.

Mark Waugh may not be proud with his bowling figures but his splendid innings has given him enough to be proud about. He gave his side a very steady start along with Hayden and it may be impossible for the Australians to make Hayden leave this country. He is on a roll and once again he made his presence felt with a good half century. Waugh has the uncanny knack of scoring runs at a very good rate without seeming to be in a hurry. The pitch deteriorated as the game progressed but the touch Mark Waugh was in, no Indian bowler made any sort of impression on him. The spinners were played with great poise and balance without missing out on any scoring opportunities. Waugh remained unbeaten along with Bevan, who got some very useful batting practice.

The Indians will be disappointed with a couple of aspects about the game. The running between the wickets needs to be sorted out, as the team cannot afford to lose its top order batsmen due to poor judgement. The spin department looks palpably ineffective and this will be great cause for concern for the think tank. Harbhajan Singh bowled restrictively but he cannot be expected to succeed like he did in the Test matches in terms of wickets. Joshi, the cricketer on whom the skipper seems to repeatedly pin his hopes on, continues to fail to deliver the goods. He has been given enough opportunities in both forms of the game but unfortunately the results suggest that he must make way for a youngster. Joshi's problem seems to be that he lacks faith in himself even though he has the ability to be a useful cricketer. At a time when the youngsters are doing a great job, current form should prevail over the past deeds of any reputed player.