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December 5, 2003
Sourav Ganguly celebrates as Damien Martyn is run out
© Getty Images
Steve Waugh may have been responsible for the moment - a nightmarish one if you're an Australian fan - of the day, but it was John Buchanan who was left to carry the can at the press conference that followed another truncated day's play.
When asked whether Damien Martyn's decision to sacrifice his wicket for Waugh ran counter to the team ethic that the Australians are so keen to talk up, Buchanan was momentarily nonplussed. "No team wants run-outs to occur," he said finally. "They give a big lift to the fielding side ... but it's an unfortunate part of the game." When pressed further, he said, "Individuals make decisions. Only Damien can answer your question."
When a journalist asked him how the wave of emotion that would inevitably accompany Waugh's every trip to the middle in this series might affect the team on the whole, he said, "We talked about that. It's understood that certain external pressures will be brought to bear on Stephen ... our job is to deliver our skills. We're aware that a whole range of words and issues - like the run-out one you've just created - will be there, but we believe we're stronger than that."
He insisted that Australia weren't surprised by how well the Indians bowled in the 16 overs available to them today. "I don't think they bowled the right way yesterday. Today, they got it right. Had they bowled that kind of line and length yesterday, our score could've been much less."
Zaheer Khan, whose five-for has given India the merest glimmer of hope in trying conditions, also refused to get carried away. "The conditions were more overcast today and that helped," he said. "We also bowled more in the right areas."
Asked about the no-ball problem that has bedevilled him recently, he said, "I wasn't going to sacrifice my pace, so I wasn't too concerned by the no-balls. I just wanted to hit the seam hard."
There had been much talk in recent weeks about how Zaheer had been psychologically scarred by the Australians targetting him, but when asked about it, he never veered off the diplomatic path. "Fast bowling on any day is about trying to bowl consistently. I can only do my job."
He did admit however that a special plan had been in place for Steve Waugh, who he nailed with a short delivery. But when asked how it felt to get his wicket, he would only say, "He's a good batsman. He just had a bad day." If India are to make a good fist of the series, as they did on day two, they'll need plenty more bad days from the likes of Waugh and Adam Gilchrist, who couldn't buy a Gabba run between them.
Dileep Premachandran is assistant editor of Wisden Cricinfo in India. He will be following India throughout this Test series.
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