Australia fail to adapt
As a sentence it sounds incongruous - Australia looked out of their depth, like they hadn't come to terms with what was required in the solitary Tweny20 international at the Brabourne Stadium. Whether it was sheer arrogance or living in denial, Brad Hogg's ommision from the XI, a mistake Australia made in the ICC World Twenty20, invited disaster and it came in the form of a seven-wicket loss.
One Indian batsman recently told this writer that they were not struggling to pick Hogg. Some of the tailenders were, but they struggle to pick anyone. The problem was Hogg always had large totals to defend and scoring quickly against him from the word go was a dangerous prospect, especially when he had his wrong 'un working as well as he did. In Twenty20 cricket, you have to score quickly all the time, eight runs an over is perfectly acceptable returns for a bowler.
Australia, however, seemed to treat this game merely as a shortened version of 50-over cricket. When asked what the difference between ODI cricket and Twenty20 cricket was, earlier in the series at Nagpur, Ponting only said: "30 overs". This was a comment in a lighter vein and had the press corps in splits but, if Australia want to put in stronger performances in the shortest format, one sincerely hopes they don't believe this to be true.
Take the case of Harbhajan Singh. He went through such a rough patch in the one-dayers that the wickets dried up. He was bowling inside the Powerplays and had to keep it tight but slowly, as his confidence dipped, he began to bowl flatter and faster, spearing the ball into the pads with monotonous regularity. It reached a point where Harbhajan lost his place in the one-day team, only to have his career resuscitated by Twenty20 cricket - a format that was meant to be a bowler's nightmare.
In South Africa, Harbhajan succeeded in keeping batsmen quiet, and today was no different. His four overs cost only 17 runs - remarkable given the Australians averaged more than eight runs per over - and picked up the vital wicket of Matthew Hayden. He was successful because he bowled cleverly. Harbhajan possesses a certain kind of street-smart intelligence and it's evident every time you give him a bowl.
The Australians should be asking themselves why they could find no place for someone who took 11 wickets at only 22.63 apiece, going for 4.65 runs an over, and then bowled the spin of Andrew Symonds and Michael Clarke for five overs. Sure, it was good to give Ben Hilfenhaus a game and there was a chance the ball might swing but betting on chances is hardly the Australian way, or indeed a sensible way.
When the Australians batted after winning the toss, Hayden displayed no sense of urgency. It was almost as though he was playing himself in, and there's no room for that in this form of the game. It seemed that the only concession Australia would make was for Ricky Ponting to open the face of his bat more than he normally does. In a display of high-class batting - easily the innings of the match - Ponting ran the ball down to the third-man boundary far more than he usually does. When the ball was short, his pulls were as authoritative as ever and, when the field was set back, he dropped the ball expertly into the gaps for ones and twos. Ponting's 76 off 53 balls was enough to take Australia to 166, but that was merely a fighting score in Twenty20 cricket.
Another indication that Australia seemed to be doing nothing different was that they bowled three free-hit no-balls. In this abbreviated format, there's no room for extra deliveries and both Brett Lee and Ben Hilfenhaus were guilty of overstepping by plenty.
When they replied, India brought out their Twenty20 game. Their post-ICC World Twenty20 celebrations may have been over the top and vulgar but their mindset today was exactly what took them to glory in the tournament. The opening batsmen hit the ground running and, although there was some slashing and nicking, Gautam Gambhir has to be given credit for coming in from the cold and making 63.
In the one-day series, India paid the price for making basic mistakes at crucial times. Today, they were ahead for the best part of 38.1 overs and it ended in a flurry of sixes from Yuvraj Singh and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, batting with carefree joy, for it was Australia who made all the mistakes. At the moment, they seem not to care too much about Twenty20 results, but they will eventually. It's not Australian to lose and not care.
Anand Vasu is an associate editor at Cricinfo