Australia v India, 4th Test, Sydney, 2nd day

'The toughest home series' - Gilchrist

Dileep Premachandran at the SCG

January 3, 2004

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Stuart MacGill's poor showing in the field got the spectators' hackles up
© Getty Images

Adam Gilchrist refused to wave the white flag, but admitted that Australia would need a monumental effort to ensure that Steve Waugh's farewell Test isn't remembered as an ignominious defeat. "We never give up hope," he said with a wry smile. "And we always give it our best shot."

Gilchrist reckoned that Australia, who have set the standards for everyone else to match in recent seasons, would need to emulate India to stand any chance of salvaging something from the game. "When we do get the chance to bat, we need to learn from the way they batted ... very patiently and watching the ball closely."

Despite acknowledging that the team had been physically and mentally taxed, Gilchrist said that there was no dearth of spirit in the team. "We've stuck to our task, but have been undone by some outstanding batting," he said. "And a few catches have gone down, which has been one thing that's let us down this series. I've been as responsible as anyone else."

He rated the Indians as the toughest opponents that he had faced. "It's been the toughest home series I've played in. It's been a real challenge to find ways to get these guys out. It's one of the best batting line-ups in the world, going back a long way."

Asked what India had done differently to other sides, he said, "What they've done is been able to bat for long periods against us. You could point to the absence of McGrath and Warne, and also to their exceptional batting. I think it's been a bit of both. [Virender] Sehwag and [Akash] Chopra have also done a great job opening the batting."

As for the two men who meted out the punishment today, Gilchrist didn't hold back on the superlatives. "VVS seems extraordinary each time we play him. We can't work out why he then goes away, and is left out of the team [for the 2003 World Cup]. As for Tendulkar, it was inevitable that he was going to come good. He looked a bit tentative yesterday, but was back in the groove today. He looked like the class act that he is."

There was some disappointment at the booing directed at Stuart MacGill after he dropped both Tendulkar and Laxman during the course of the day's play. "I can understand that there's a lot of frustration at not being part of a fairytale, after all the hype going into the game. But it's the soft option to boo, the cheap option."

Gilchrist played one of the all-time great Test innings, 204 not out, at Johannesburg two seasons ago, to set up what Waugh termed two days ago as the most impressive victory of his tenure. A reprise is needed tomorrow, or the day after, depending on when India close their innings, if Australia - and Steve Waugh - are to leave the SCG with anything more than tears and regrets.

Dileep Premachandran is assistant editor of Wisden Cricinfo in India. He will be following India throughout the course of this series.

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Dileep Premachandran Associate editor Dileep Premachandran gave up the joys of studying thermodynamics and strength of materials with a view to following in the footsteps of his literary heroes. Instead, he wound up at the Free Press Journal in Mumbai, writing on sport and politics before Gentleman gave him a column called Replay. A move to followed, where he teamed up with Sambit Bal, and he arrived at ESPNCricinfo after having also worked for Cricket Talk and Sunil Gavaskar and Greg Chappell were his early cricketing heroes, though attempts to emulate their silken touch had hideous results. He considers himself obscenely fortunate to have watched live the two greatest comebacks in sporting history - India against invincible Australia at the Eden Gardens in 2001, and Liverpool's inc-RED-ible resurrection in the 2005 Champions' League final. He lives in Bangalore with his wife, who remains astonishingly tolerant of his sporting obsessions.
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