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April 4, 2001
India went into the match at Vishakapatnam holding the upper hand but by letting Australia pile up 338 runs, they conceded the psychological advantage right away. On a wicket like this, the toss was vital and it was a very sensible decision by Steve Waugh to bat first. I think in Indore if Australia had elected to bat and posted an imposing total of 300 plus, the course of the series would have been a little different.
Matthew Hayden was once again the thorn in India's flesh. He made a very sincere effort by coming to India some time ago to familiarise himself with the prevailing conditions and play against some of the local spinners. Coming into this tour, Hayden knew exactly where he stood, having formulated a few ideas on how to handle the conditions and the spin attack. I do faintly remember interacting with him. He had gone on record after the Chennai Test that his experience with us had helped him reorganise his batting when playing on a turner. My feelings are mixed. I'm happy he benefited from our advice but from a patriotic standpoint I feel a little sad!
Ricky Ponting came back to form because of the one-day format. To be honest, if the one-dayers were played prior to the Test series, I have a strange feeling he would have done well in the Tests. Unfortunately the Tests didn't provide him enough space to get into the groove. Some of his shots here were played in the air, especially his ondrives and I don't think he would have got away with it in a Test scenario. Very rightly there was a small modification to his footwork. I was amazed why he took so long to set it right because the Australian team has a coach who always carries a laptop to analyse the mistakes of the players.
Ponting did not move across too much at Vizag and was getting onto the line of the ball which is the basic principle of good batsmanship. That is one of the reasons why he could play the ball a little wider of the field. Earlier when Ponting was moving too much across, he was cramping himself and getting caught even by not too intelligent field placings. But now that he is getting onto the line of the ball, Ganguly has to be very precise in his field placings.
In the one-dayers the Australians are just watching out for Harbhajan's ball that goes through, the overspun delivery or drifter as you may call it. There was one edge from Ponting which went for four but another such delivery was intentionally guided to third man, so the Aussies appear to have got wise to it. One of the basic rudiments of one-day cricket is partnership building. It's not the tall scores of individuals that matter so much as the partnership between them. That is what the punchline of one-day cricket is all about and Hayden and Ponting combined brilliantly in this regard.
Again in one-dayers the bowlers, in my opinion, don't have to use too much intelligence, but just focus on bowling a line and bowling to their field. If one happens to be a spinner, I believe he has to take the ball across the blade of the bat, which is what Shane Warne did. He looked a little dangerous possibly because of the fact that he had a lot of runs to bowl with. But Warne's action was a little different and I'm happy to see that he's bringing his arm a little higher. He's also bowling from behind the wicket which gave him the right length.
About the composition of the Indian team for Goa, the choices are limited but I'd rather give Sarandeep a try because he is a new commodity. It all depends on how well we bat, keeping Tendulkar as the focal point and letting the others bat around him. If I were the manager I would convey that forging partnerships matter most to me right from the opening pair.
There is no need for Ganguly to be desperate about his form and he shouldn't allow it to play on his mind as captain. My simple advice to him is to try and give most of the strike to Tendulkar. He has to organise ones and twos so that he stays in the middle for a while, which will bring his confidence surging back, and builds a partnership of around 40-50 at least to start with. Once that happens, I think we'll be in business in Goa.
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