India v Australia, 2nd Test, Mohali, 4th day October 20, 2008

Outbatted, outbowled, outmatched

Cricinfo staff

The Australians were unable to curb the Indian batsmen's aggressive approach © AFP

It was intimidating to watch. First the openers came out to bat and the heady rhythm of strokes belted out was reminiscent of a manic Keith Moon behind his drum kit. There were 130 runs at five an over in the first session and the rate was maintained later, with 214 runs eventually plundered from 42 overs. It made no difference if it was pace or spin. The leading fast bowler was taken for 72 from his 14 overs, and the spinners were carted for 54 from nine. It would have been exhilarating to watch in a one-day game. As part of a five-day spectacle, it was almost unprecedented.

Who else could we talking about but Australia? For more than a decade, while other sides talked of "brave cricket" and then lost their nerve, Australia flattened opponents home and away as a matter of routine. Batsmen came out and walloped 18 runs in the opening over of a series, bowlers thudded deliveries into stumps, helmets and knuckles, and even geriatric stalwarts with avian nicknames threw themselves full-length in the Adelaide outfield to take catches that beggared belief.

On Monday morning though, the other side came out swinging and Australia were left bereft of answers. Back in 2001, the juggernaut that had crushed everything in its path for 16 games came to a shuddering halt when India refused to be cowed at Eden Gardens despite the hopeless situation that they found themselves in at the end of day three. By the time the teams reached Chennai for the deciding Test, the aura had gone, and India calmly picked off 510 in response to Australia's 391 to set up a series win.

Since the Ashes were surrendered to an English side that dared to set the tone on an astonishing opening day at Edgbaston, Australia have seldom been challenged. The one time they looked most ill at ease was in Perth last January, when an Indian team seething after the perceived injustices of Sydney pulled off a stunning win at the WACA. Again, someone had wrenched the conducting baton out of Australian hands, and the big boys couldn't play.

His critics can say all that they want to about Mahendra Singh Dhoni being a lucky captain. The toss certainly played a part here, but as his powerful batting displays - such a contrast from the imposter who scratched around at the Chinnaswamy Stadium - have shown, he seems to thrive on the added responsibility. In the first innings, his 92 was the difference between a modest total and an imposing one, and on the fourth morning he decided to trust his shot-making ability after Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir had pillaged 182.

Ricky Ponting got the kind of ball from Ishant Sharma that makes batsmen wake up in a cold sweat © Getty Images

With the famed middle order looking on, it was a move that would have attracted considerable ridicule if it backfired. Instead, Dhoni thumped 68 from 84 balls, including a six off Cameron White that came to a rest 25 yards inside the field after cannoning into the sightscreen. He made sure India didn't overdo it either. With runs coming so easily, the batsmen must have been queuing up, but the declaration came well before tea, leaving India with 136 overs to ensure that their dominance of the game was translated into the right result.

Australia's chase was in ruins within 10.2 overs. There had been signs in the morning that they were losing the plot. There was an animated argument between Ricky Ponting and Brett Lee before lunch, presumably something to do with the fact that the leader of the pace pack wasn't required to bowl until after everyone has finished their roti and butter chicken. And that simmering rage seemed to afflict the batting as well.

Matthew Hayden has never been known for the backward step, but even by his standards, the belligerence shown during a 20-ball 29 was extraordinary. It was as if he wanted to hit every delivery into the cement moat that rings the venue. And it was a reflection of the kind of series that he's having that he fell to the sweep, the stroke that fetched him hundreds of runs back in 2001.

Simon Katich fell to a frankly appalling stroke, while Ricky Ponting got the kind of ball that makes batsmen wake up in a cold sweat. That, and the delivery which darted back to trap Shane Watson in front, crowned a magnificent spell from Ishant Sharma, who must surely now be considered one of the best fast bowlers in the world. India's pace bowlers now have 18 wickets in the series, while it needed a miscue from Sourav Ganguly to gift Lee his fourth of the series. The times, they certainly are a changin'.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Pranay on October 21, 2008, 8:59 GMT

    "Outbatted, outbowled, outmatched," The title says it all, very crisply. we aren't a nation that counts its chickens before they hatch, so i'm not claiming this victory to be a harbinger of india's domination or the beginning of the end for oz. It simply sets the tone for a very interesting climax. the way the old and the new stood together and delivered for india was very heartening, as was ms dhoni's captaincy. clarke's fighting 69 may be a sign of things to come. but as far as claims of bad umpiring go, all i've got to say is 320 RUNS. 8 haydens and 14 watsons couldn't have gotten u there, let alone a bad decision or two. As for the sledging and taunting, well, come off it. What happened to the the great Aussie juggernaut's great Aussie spirit. "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie; Oye, oye, oye" wasn't it. See you at Delhi boys.

  • Vincent on October 21, 2008, 8:38 GMT

    Popcorn is correct about many things he/she says in his post. But, it is not just the ball pitching outside the line of offstump, but also hitting the batsman's pad outside the line of offstump which gives the batsman a safety zone.

    Umpiring in this game was bad, both from Rudi and Rauf. Rudi in particular makes too many mistakes, and his reluctance to use the third umpire is not good at all. Ganguly benefitted greatly from his attitude. Like Symonds did earlier this year in Australia, and went on to post a big 100.

    All said, the Aussies were comprehensively outplayed in every department of the game.

  • Hari on October 21, 2008, 6:47 GMT

    Good win by Indian team. Dhoni should go out if he is playing for himself more than for India. He never plays like this under others captaincy. It is better lose games with players playing for Indian than some selfish man winning game for themselves.

  • Jack on October 21, 2008, 3:54 GMT

    Congratulations to India for its brilliant performance. Yesterday was a time when the Australian team seemed at times to need a Mercy Rule like those used in backyard cricket when one becomes too dominant. India has a great side and seems poised to take over as No 1 but there are still hard yards on different pitches in different countries. The next step will be to dominate England. I well remember an Australian captain setting the West Indies over 700 to get in a fourth innings and tearing them apart with two quick bowlers. The result was inevitable but they came back later with their own four quick bowlers and dominated World Cricket including Australia for over a decade. Australia is down and nearly out in this Test Match but there are kids in Australia learning to bowl like Shane Warne. There is also some history of fighting back at Hobart against Pakistan and in Adelaide against England. Again, congratulations, India. For now ...

  • Rajaram on October 21, 2008, 3:13 GMT

    Mathew Hayden was not out. Any fool knows that if the ball pitches OUTSIDE THE LINE,and raps the pads,it cannot be given out.Yet Sivaramakrishnan and Sunil Gavaskar, who have played cricket (I think)and who were giving commentary, sheepishly and shamelessly chose not to say that it was wrong.If this had happened to an Indian, Sunil Gavaskar would have been up in arms and would have written columns and columns about it.Asad Rauf is a lousy umpire.When the world could see and hear a nick, he could not see it, and did not give Sehwag out?The ball that got Shane Watson on the back pad was high.Not out.How can Australia ever win this way? Another factor is that SG balls are used here.Not Kookaburra.The seam is different. This too is tilted in favour of the Indians.Zaheer Khan used cheap tactics to taunt Hayden on his dismissal.Both Jimmy Amarnath and the Neo Sports anchor laughed. Ian Chappell said it was wrong, unfair. And people think Indian cricketers have a halo around their head?

  • Michael on October 21, 2008, 3:10 GMT

    Maybe the Australians should complain about the abusive tactics by the Indian team (who appear to be full of double standards - extremely hypocritical!!!!). Perhaps they should even complain about the umpiring (which has been so biased towards India) and threaten to boycott the tour just as India did when they believed things went against them - But Australian teams have much more dignity and courage than that. Please make comments about India's greatness after they have dominated Test cricket for 15 years and won 3 consecutive world cups (with a population of 20 million) - I'd like to see that

  • Kristan on October 21, 2008, 0:39 GMT

    Well done India. This is some of the best bowling i have seen since the 2005 ashes series. The fast bowloers are at the top of their games, the spin is great, Dhoni captaining well and a good decision to leave Kumble out. Their batting has been good in this test, but be mindful of the below par bowling performance from the Aussies. I'd point to the fact the Australian side has dominated test cricket for ~15 years with the few hiccups mentioned above. Whilst this match maybe a matter of the Indians improving their game, i'd suggest giving Australia 6 months of below par performances before announcing the demise of the Aussies in the Test arena. It is good however to see a great performance from India.

  • john on October 20, 2008, 23:37 GMT

    Yes it is time for Kumble to retire I think. I've always found his bowling to be not as attacking as other spinners like for example Harbhajan.

    I mean I started watching a lot of cricket like 4 or 5 years ago, so I dont know much about him. I've obviously seen him take the 10 wicket haul in an innings and only a great bowler can do that. So I give all the respect to him, but I really Dhoni should step up to plate as capt.

    Some people think the burden of batting, wicketkeeping, and captaining a team like India will be a monstrous task, but after all, MSD is a beast.

  • Indian on October 20, 2008, 21:20 GMT

    This is the finest moment of Indian test cricket. All the youngsters are winning matches with the old heads still there. Yes, Australia is Outbatted, outbowled, outmatched. I am not in India to see this live, but still celebrating this moment.

    It is the perfect time for Ganguly's decision to quit and It would also be perfect for Kumble with spinners like Misra in place. The meaning of right time doesn't mean that old heads aren't capable...It only means they need not do anymore as the youngsters are doing good and will continue to do after them.

    Long live young India, under the young, valorous, belligerent captain.

  • Gaurav on October 20, 2008, 17:37 GMT

    " crowned a magnificent spell from Ishant Sharma, who must surely now be considered one of the best fast bowlers in the world."

    ..Seriously? Isn't this kind of 'jumping to conclusions' attitude the reason why cricket is so hyped, players are pressurized to perform and expectations are shattered all the time? The kid just came to cricket, let him play.

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