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India got their tactics right - Ravi Shastri

The opening day of the series saw a fantastic fightback from India (03:48)

December 26, 2007


Australia v India, 1st Test, Melbourne, 1st day

India got their tactics right - Ravi Shastri

December 26, 2007

Ravi Shastri: "It was a top-class effort from Kumble - he varied his pace nicely and kept probing away" © Getty Images

Akhila Ranganna: Hello and welcome to Cricinfo Talk, I have with me former India captain, Ravi Shastri to look back on the first day of the first Test between India and Australia, a day that that saw the Indians fighting back very strongly.

Ravi, a day of fluctuating fortunes; Australia started off well, but India fought back strongly. Do you think they are well and truly on top?

Ravi Shastri: I wouldn't say well and truly on top but I think that India have made a terrific comeback and they might just be in front at this stage. Having said that, Australia have got over 300 runs on the board. But at one stage it looked like they would dominate day one. So it was a fantastic fightback from the Indians with Anil Kumble, the captain, leading from the front.

AR: The Indian pace bowlers started off well but didn't have too much luck. They stuck to their line and length and in the end were rewarded, especially Zaheer Khan.

RS: Zaheer bowled well in patches; I thought his spell after lunch had much more intent. But Kumble was the star for me. He broke the partnership early on; he probed away; he was persistent as ever and it's not often that you see a spinner get a five-wicket haul on day one of a Test match. This is a very good batting track, it was ideal batting condition and to step up to the plate and deliver the way he has will have really lifted the spirits of the team. I thought it was clever bowling from Kumble. He varied his pace nicely, he used the crease well and he bowled the googly extremely well. I thought it was a top-class effort form him.

AR: You've spoken about Kumble's bowling; he did lead from the front as a captain. What did you make of his tactics as a captain?

RS: I thought he had limited resources but he marshalled them well. India went in with the right combination. They would have been tempted to go in with the extra seamer, but I thought they did the right thing by going in with their four best bowlers who could take 20 wickets.

I think [Ricky] Ponting will be disappointed. It was a good toss to win. They reached 135 without losing any wickets but if you look at the score at the end of the day, Australia lost nine wickets for 202 runs. They will be disappointed.

AR: You've spoken about this being a good batting track. A word on Matthew Hayden's knock - he started off slowly but stuck through and in the end reached a well-deserved century.

RS: He likes batting on this track. He got a century in the Boxing Day Test last year. I think this was his sixth hundred at the MCG and he paced his innings beautifully. You mentioned that he started slowly, but if you look at when he reached his century, he had got his runs of just 120-odd balls which was a very good effort, given the circumstances. He's a big-innings player - his conversion rate is excellent. Before the start of this innings, he had 27 hundreds and 27 fifties. Today was his 28th hundred which means he has more hundreds than fifties in Test cricket, which is terrific.

AR: Ravi, you've said that Ponting will be disappointed. Now the Australia batsmen have been used to getting on top of the bowlers and pounding them into submission by putting up huge scores. Do you think they were a touch over-confident here?

RS: I wouldn't say that they were over-confident, I thought India's tactics were very good. It would have been easy to just look to try and restrict Australia and contain their batsmen once they had reached 135 without the loss of any wickets. Instead Kumble was still looking to get wickets, which was the right way to go about things. In doing so, they got wickets at regular intervals and put the brakes on the scoring and put pressure on the Australian middle-order.

AR: Thank you Ravi for your views. We will hear from you tomorrow, till then it's me Akhila Ranganna signing off.

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