India v Australia, 4th Test, Nagpur, 4th day November 9, 2008

Rated O

Ali Cook
Australia's continually tardy over-rates should cost them something more serious than money or a ban

More time was wasted when Ricky Ponting argued with Billy Bowden over the overthrow runs awarded © AFP

Australia's continually tardy over-rates should cost them something more serious than money or a ban, and will probably result in them losing the Border-Gavaskar Trophy on Monday. Having frightened India by taking six wickets in the second session, Ricky Ponting's men returned after tea with their opponents owning a lead of 252, a target which might have been in the manageable range on the final day.

Then Ponting quickly turned off the threats because he was about ten overs behind the over-rate and was facing a suspension for the opening game against New Zealand. During the next two hours the target moved from testing to record-breaking as Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Harbhajan Singh breezed to a partnership of 108. Unless Australia can manage the fourth-highest successful chase in history it was the moment India finally shut their opponents out of the game - and the series.

Over-rates have been a regular problem for Australia, but no matter how many times it is mentioned in team meetings or by the match referee, nothing productive has been done to fix it. So with Ponting facing a ban and the players a heavy fine, Mitchell Johnson got one over at the Pavilion End after tea before Cameron White was employed in partnership with the highly effective Jason Krejza.

White's first two overs went for 15, including a wide that cost five, and the lives of Dhoni and Harbhajan became bearable following a session of extreme stress for the hosts. Once White had no impact the medium-pace of Michael Hussey was called, and then Michael Clarke arrived. Krejza, who bowled well enough to take the fourth-best analysis of a debutant, was left stranded as the casuals could not slow India down. A tight contest swiftly became much looser.

India were as disbelieving as people watching at the ground and in homes around the world. Surely missing a game is less of a problem than losing such an important series. The former captain and current commentator Allan Border summed it up well when he said: "I'm glad Ricky can't read my mind right now, because he's not going to like it".

Tim Nielsen, the Australia coach, defended Ponting's approach. "I don't think for one second that Ricky hasn't pressed for the win," Nielsen said. "It's easy to sit up in the commentary box, or anywhere in the ground, and poke fire at the captain because of the decisions he's making out there."

On the fourth day Brett Lee, who has been struggling with nausea, delivered only ten overs while Krejza sent down 31. Still the team was in trouble despite Ponting being in regular discussions with the umpires and match referee.

"Everybody's aware of the consequences of the captain being more than six overs down at the end of the match. The captain then is put in a place where he can be suspended," Nielsen said. "We had used our fast bowlers before the tea break and had some success."

The success had mostly come from Krejza, who captured two wickets in two balls before the interval on the way to match figures of 12 for 358. "Ricky's got the responsibility to bowl the overs he has to bowl," Nielsen said. "There's no way India can come here tomorrow and bowl 20 overs because they feel we're going well. There's a responsibility for both teams, all teams, to make sure they bowl the 90 overs required in the spirit of the game."

A similar situation occurred in Perth in January when Australia, who were 278 behind, had India 160 for 6, but had to bowl Michael Clarke and Andrew Symonds in tandem to avoid more meetings with the match referee. In Perth it contributed to a 72-run loss; here it should cost them a chance to level the series.

The Australians were ill-disciplined in other ways too. Brad Haddin had given away five penalty runs for lobbing his right glove at the ball in the middle session and briefly thought it amusing. During the Dhoni-Harbhajan stand Mitchell Johnson caused four overthrows by firing at the non-striker's end after Krejza had already accepted his cap from Aleem Dar. Every run is costly in a tussle like this.

Ponting had an animated discussion with the umpire Billy Bowden, insisting it should only be one run, and more time was wasted. The captain talks to his bowlers often and works with them on meticulous fields, which have already been discussed in the team meetings.

Even with Krejza operating so often, they were still adrift of the 90-over target, which eased when India was dismissed late in the day. A few of the players are sick, adding to the listlessness, but there is no urgency until it is late in the day, when they remember to rush like they are late for trains.

There have been a lot of disruptions for both sides during the series, but so far Australia have managed to escape fines and scrape into the acceptable limits with an extra half hour's play. It hasn't been a problem for India.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • David on November 12, 2008, 5:32 GMT

    aadirag: I'm a city boy, I know very little about the habits of pregnant cows, or 'feminine venting', so I bow to your superior knowledge on that one. I also don't recall making any reference to last summer, or the Sydney Test but I'll think you'll find, if you read your Wisden again, the 2-1 series result still stands. To update you on your previous comment, re NZ, Australia have played them 22 times in the last 20 years (hardly a 'lot of matches' but 13-1 our way) while SA is yet to win a series against Australia since being readmitted. Throw in the Ashes series (even 2005) and that's a lot of away wins. When India has done that we can talk again. Perhaps SA can win this time, India did so anything's possible. Best of luck when the Fab Four (is is that five) are all in the commentary box. I suppose the next time we clash your boys will be 'on the road'. See ya aadirag, it's time for your medicine

  • omkar on November 11, 2008, 22:05 GMT

    Hayden should retire. He was fortunate to score as much as he did in his last innings.

    Dale Steyn and Freddie Flintoff will emulate Ishant Sharma and knock over Ponting cheaply which will accelerate his departure from the game and save him from further criticisms for decisions he made in the thumping Australia received at the hands of India.

  • Aaditya on November 11, 2008, 12:27 GMT

    Bayman:Just when I think, "Surely this person has reached and encapsulates the limits of Internet tedium" you go and push the boundary even further. In future, kindly proofread your posts before assaulting unsuspecting readers of this message board with your hyperventilating rants.Did you learn that from a pregnant cow??Calm down.Australia hammered srilanka in australia.Good for you.So did we.2-0,6-1 in tests & ODI's respectively.&No you didn't thrash us.2-1 with the sydney test win is hardly a thrashing.You got thrashed in the ODI's though.Point is your team is highly overrated.It's not that I don't like watching oz play.I'm not saying that oz is finished like some others.You will still beat a lot of teams in your backyard.Not india though.Hayden is my favourite batsman alongwith Sehwag.Cricket isn't the be all & end all of life.In closing, I suggest the next time that you feel an urge to embarrass yourself and bore others, that you summon all your might, and resist.

  • David on November 11, 2008, 7:02 GMT

    aadirag: Are you allowed out on your own? Actually, bowling to an 8-1 field is very easy unless you're Mitchell Johnson who doesn't seem to be able to put it anywhere near where his captain might like. It's particularly easy when when the bowler puts it two feet outside off stump (actually, Johnson can do that). As for my Dhoni reference, I stand by it. If that's what we can expect from India in future you should have the grandstand all to yourself because nobody else will bother to pay to watch that rubbish. Enjoy your wins but nobody else will care. You know Australia hammered Sri Lanka last summer, they hammered you, what does it mean. Not too much. Before you go to bed tonight, don't forget your medication.

  • David on November 10, 2008, 23:34 GMT

    chopramo: With all due respect, you wouldn't know sportsmanship if it jumped out of the ground and bit you. Most Australian cricket followers I know are not too concerned with a loss here and there. It happens. It's why people keep score. Most Aussies, however, do know a bit about cricket and care for the game. Criticism of the match, the captains, the tactics is not bad sportsmanship. As you say with your '2-0' reference, it's a fact. Dhoni won the game but his approach was cynical. Four overs after lunch in 20 minutes with spinners operating. Standing outside leg stump to Sehwag until the umpires spoke to him. Aussies don't mind losing, it makes a rare change and stops boredom creeping in. And we love winning but we do prefer to win in style. Dhoni only began to attack when the game was clearly going to be won. With a 381 lead he could have attacked from the start. His first session tactics were a joke and a disgrace and India looked frightened to win. It's a fact.

  • Aaditya on November 10, 2008, 13:12 GMT

    The last 3-4 comments I've made haven't been published.Now a lot of rubbish is being allowed to be posted here & IMO my posts are quite allright compared to some mental-midgets over here.It doesn't rock my world,but it is irritating when you give your opinion & it's not taken when others who are at best wierd are all over the site's comments portions.I hope my last comment gets published & NOT THIS ONE.

  • Aaditya on November 10, 2008, 13:08 GMT

    Aussie fans suggesting unsportsmanlike behaviour from the indian team is a joke.The point is bowling to an 8-1 field isn't easy.2 boundaries to the onside will get a field change response.Oz used it against dravid & jaffer last winter & have continued even this winter.Those tactics were specifically for katich & hussey coz they're limited players.Australia should be happy with the 2-0 loss,it should have been 3-0.They're lucky harbhajan got injured & missed out in delhi.Also Kumble hurt himself in that game.It should never be forgotten that Oz play a lot of matches against new zealand who're not great & england is a team they play 10 matches every 3 years.It's allright beating modest teams in your own backyard,can you beat a good team like india??Apparently NO.Border-Gavaskar Trophy's been won 4 times by india & thrice by aus.10 matches won by each side including sydney.& calling Dhoni a major disappointment as captain is pure feminine venting.Actually,it doesn't warrant a response.

  • Mohit on November 10, 2008, 8:22 GMT

    Funny, posts written by many here (Bayman etc..) suggest Australians are very very very very bad loosers. Shame and yes its very bad for the game to have no sportsman spirit, Aussies are never wrong, everything they do, even if it defies the norms can be defended!!! Funny stuff, LOL. Well India beat Australia 2-0 no one or no comment or no human can change that. Live with it.

  • David on November 10, 2008, 6:23 GMT

    Samadonline: Actually Ponting preferred another spin bowler to a pace bowler given this is a first time pitch and Clark had not threatened all tour. Enjoy your success Sammy but avoid making silly comments, it's unbecoming. Dhoni's captaincy was cynical, pure and simple, and I'm sure he would not have done it if India were trailing 1-0. When Australia were ruling the world they won their Tests in 3-4 days by dominating and attacking relentlessly. India's approach is no doubt because they are not used to winning and are playing safe and frightened. If you really are the better side, win it in 3-4 days and be glorious in so doing. Dhoni is a major disappointment as captain. I expected better after Kumble. And, yes, Ponting was disgraceful in his handling of the attack in the second innings.

  • Warrick on November 10, 2008, 5:55 GMT

    "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing."

    OK, so we all agree that Ponting should have taken one for the team, and just bowled the best he had and try to win the damn game. We all agree.

    India will win the series because they wanted it more. They were always prepared to do whatever was required to win. Australia weren't. India are supported and praised at home and abroad for it, and Australia are denigrated as losers and losing it.

    Last series in Australia the Aussies did everything they needed to do to win and India didn't. Australia were denigrated and accused at home and abroad for it, and India were given a soft shoulder to cry on.

    There is no double standard at work here, as Aussies were criticised on both occassions.

    And don't talk about India's bowling attack either - it has only taken 20-wickets once this series also (day 5 may yet prove the second). The wickets have not been good enough.

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