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Wisden Cricinfo staff
January 13, 2004
Akash Chopra: didn't score too many, but impressed with his attitude
The Indian squad currently touring Australia have impressed many critics with their work ethic and team spirit, and the latest to join their fan club was Bruce Reid, the team's current bowling coach. Speaking to the Press Trust of India, Reid gushed about the manner in which the Indians approached this tour, right from planning against opposition players to their positive attitude throughout the series. "I was so impressed with their mindset," he said. "There is much to learn from the Indians for the other Test nations."
Reid continued: "They were just not worried about individual reputations. They just played as they saw it. At team meetings they barely mentioned the names of the Australian bowlers. They played each ball as they saw it, but it was irrelevant who bowled it. I know they rated Jason Gillespie very highly, but they felt the more they talked the bowlers up the more of an issue they would become, so they hardly spoke of them."
Reid also raved about the manner in which the Indian batsmen dismantled Stuart MacGill. MacGill took 14 wickets in the series, but they came at the high cost of 50.79 apiece. "When coach John Wright tried to teach his players how to play spin, they laugh at him. They just don't rate it. You should use your bat all the time against spin and it seems to get them in far less trouble. All of them play that way. They just try to avoid pad-play."
The Indians' tendency to back their instincts came in for praise as well. "For all their technical mastery, the Indian batsmen backed their instincts and were not overly obsessed about making technical adjustments to cope with conditions and pitches," Reid observed. "They never got technical about things at all. In the nets, you would never hear them talking about their backlift or where their top hand was. They just played."
Past Indian teams have often worried about the grass on the pitch, but Reid remarked that this squad wasn't too bothered, and believed in playing their natural game. "They just didn't worry at all whether the wickets were fast or slow or whatever. It was the same with practice wickets," he said. "I've played in teams who have whinged about practice wickets but it never worried the Indians. They'd just go in and have a bash."
There was special mention of Akash Chopra, who finished with a modest average of 23, but spent plenty of time at the crease, ensuring that the middle order would not have to face the new ball. "He never made a 50 in the Tests but you cannot underestimate the role he played in sticking around to protect Rahul Dravid from the new ball. It just made a huge difference and it's been a long time since any openers have done as well in Australia. He is so gutsy."
The team spirit shown by the entire squad didn't go unnoticed either. "In the past, if they were coming out for warm-ups, some of the older guys and the big individual stars might have come ten minutes after the rest of them. This time they would all come out together. They did everything together."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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