February 28, 2001

The Indians are up against it

The most significant aspects, which have contributed to the success of Australian cricket and Steve Waugh, were on display yet again at the Wankhede Stadium. Aggression has been the hallmark of Australian cricket and Gilchrist adopted the successful recipe to get Australia out of jail and put them in a comfortable position at the end of the second day's play. Steve Waugh on the other hand has played international cricket all these years through sheer quiet confidence. It was that confidence of his that prompted him to take a gamble straightaway in the series. Not only did he go in with three fast bowlers and Warne but he also inserted the Indians on winning the toss. To do what he did takes a "fair amount of spunk" as the Aussies are wont to say and Waugh emerged the victor in the opening round of the series.

Ganguly, despite all his courageous statements stuck to the same old combination of playing six batsmen but in the end it did not serve the purpose as the Indians were dismissed for less than two hundred. The death knell starting ringing for the Indians as early as the first hour of the test match with the top four batsmen dismissed in a jiffy. Tendulkar was the only batsmen who dominated the Australians and once again demonstrated to his home crowd the reason why he is a player of the top drawer. He played with authority right from the word go and but for his entertaining knock the Indians would have in deeper trouble. From the look of things Tendulkar's revival job has not even commenced yet as he started his second innings on the second day of the Test match!

The indifferent batting on the first day notwithstanding, the spinners were guilty of not pressing home the advantage they gained on the second morning. Without taking away the credit from Hayden and Gilchrist, the Indian spin duo of Sanghvi and Singh lacked the ability to be consistent. Harbhajan Singh caused a middle order collapse but then the left handed pair of Gilchrist and Hayden showed the young spinners what international cricket was all about. Hayden and Gilchrist complemented each other well with Hayden playing the anchor role and Gilchrist batted the way he knows best. These two showed that a strong mind is the key to success at the top level and the Indians were left stewing in their soup as the sixth wicket partnership took the game away from the hosts.

Wright has been reiterating for a long time that discipline is the watchword in all the departments of the game but going by the proceedings of the Test match so far, his wards have not paid enough attention to his words.

The Indians are up against it and they really have to play out of their skins in order to turn the tables on the Aussies. Not only have they got to wipe the deficit off without further loss but they also have to bowl efficiently to win the Test match. Suffice to say that the hosts are in a position familiar to them, that of having to swim against the tide. Ganguly who has not had the rub of the green so far should keep his cool and lead from the front for his players to emulate him. If he fails to raise the level of his team, then it is going to be an uphill task for him not only as a captain, but also as a batsman. After all the Indian team depends largely on a select few unlike the Australians and the established players have to do twice as well in this game.