Australia in India 2009-10 October 29, 2009

Death bowling a worry for Australia


After two matches in the series, the Indian fast bowlers can breathe easier with the spotlight shifting to their Australian counterparts. If India's fast men were the weak link going into the series, the death overs have indeed spelt doom for the Australian quicks.

MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina took 108 in the last 10 overs in Nagpur - Australia's worst showing since 1999 - and the 82 conceded in the last eight overs in the previous match in Vadodara was their sixth-worst.

The absence of Brett Lee (who didn't bowl his quota in Vadodara and was injured in Nagpur) and Nathan Bracken is telling. More incriminating than the figures is the manner in which the runs have come. Fulltosses, leg-side wides, half-volleys, length deliveries, and misfields have all made the job easier for India.

Ricky Ponting was honest in assessing the problems he faces. "Since [Glenn] McGrath has moved on, we have mixed and matched with a lot of different guys over the last few years," he said after Wednesday's defeat. "The last ten overs - 108 off the last ten - is too many to give away. When you have batsmen at the crease who can strike the ball as well as the Indians can, you only have to be a few centimetres or a few inches off your execution, and you are going to go."

Since McGrath's retirement, 18 bowlers have bowled in the last ten overs for Australia, and among those who have managed to put in 20 overs or more, only James Hopes, Lee and Mitchell Johnson have gone at under seven per over. Hopes has given away an impressive 222 off 239 balls bowled in the last ten overs of an innings. Hopes and Lee were missing in Nagpur and Johnson a last-minute inclusion. Ponting made no bones about how much Lee was missed in the current line-up. "He is one of the leading fast bowlers in one-day cricket. His form over the last few weeks has been particularly good. To have that kind of strike power up your sleeve is quite nice."

When India are playing at home with the momentum on their side, even the best of sides has found it hard to stop them. Many a touring side has found the crowds, the conditions, and the confidence of the hosts a bit too much to tackle. Dhoni, who has had more than a few problems with the bowlers himself, empathised with Ponting. "Some of our batsmen who bat at Nos 5 and 6, and Yuvraj [Singh] at 4, they are the best hitters right now in the world, and the subcontinent conditions really favour them," he said. "I won't say Australian bowlers are not good enough. They bowled well. When it comes to a pressure situation you commit errors, we do that too, some of the best bowling sides have done that."

In Nagpur, with the odds stacked against Australia, it was refreshing to see an aggressive attitude from Ponting and and his bowlers. For much of the first 35 overs, Ponting kept the field up, with mid-on and mid-off in the circle to make singles and doubles harder to come by. He was not waiting for things to happen, he was trying to make them happen. "At every opportunity I brought as many fielders inside the circle as I could to try and put some pressure on," Ponting said.

Apart from Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar, the other batsmen were given a fair share of bouncers by Peter Siddle, Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus. It seemed like it would work, with Gautam Gambhir and Dhoni both being put in uncomfortable positions as three wickets fell inside the first 15 overs. But the bowlers couldn't extract anything out of the pitch or air, and once India went into the last 15 overs with six wickets in hand, the inexperience of the bowlers showed.

The good news for both the captains, though, was that the conditions might not help the big hitters in Delhi, if the Champions League Twent20 matches are any indication. Ponting has followed the Champions League matches in Delhi and could be one of the few visiting captains who won't mind a low and turning pitch.

Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Cricket on October 31, 2009, 7:03 GMT

    "Fulltosses, leg-side wides, half-volleys, length deliveries, and misfields have all made the job easier for India."

    That is not recognizing the amazing talent of the Indians - especially Dhoni and Raina. To a lay person it may seem too easy the way Dhoni and Raina scored runs, but any international batsman can tell you that there are not too many batsman who can strike the ball like Dhoni does. All kudos to Dhoni and Raina.

  • Ravish on October 31, 2009, 3:30 GMT

    6-1 hammering by Aussies of India, ye popcorn? Now that you have thrown down the gauntlet and mentioned the series outcome, we will keep score! You must be a really confident man for betting on Aussies to sweep India 5-0 from here on in Indian conditions without any of your ace bowlers. We will know in 0-11 days if it is a smart confidence or false bravado!

  • Adam on October 31, 2009, 0:42 GMT

    @rajdion82 I would suggest that Tendulker bats up the order because you want your best batsmen in the team to have a much time in the middle in an ODI. Tendulkers record speaks for itself so I'd say that's why he bats 1.

  • Raj on October 30, 2009, 20:13 GMT

    @kunal_vora. You are right. I have grown up watching Sachin Tendulkar bat and win matches for India single handedly. But that was before, when I feel that he was totally committed to the team. In fact the two back to back centuries he made against Australia in Sharjah are my all time favorites. However, when it matters the most, taking into consideration all his experience and genius, why does he fail to deliver? Especially in the second innings. You talk of his presence in the team and the way it motivates the others. On the contrary, consider what happens when he opens the innings in the 2nd innings, when a big target is to be chased and gets out cheaply. Doesn't it put the incoming batsmen under pressure? This is why I feel that it would be better that he bat lower down the order, which gives a buffer to the top batsmen and would help them bat more freely. But, when this was previously applied, the master didn't score many runs and then blamed the batting order for his lack of form

  • Cr1cket_Lover on October 30, 2009, 16:07 GMT

    Well, Sachin's individual records are outstanding, but how well has Indian cricket done? We haven't won any world cups, we haven't won consistently and smaller countries can beat us. We get beaten in our home grounds, and we also lose on foreign soil. Dhoni has his team are changing that. Sachin has served Indian cricket well, but he needs to make place for younger players who are the future. At the latest, he should retire after the World Cup, if not sooner than that.

  • raja on October 30, 2009, 13:38 GMT

    Australia are not dominant as they used to be, because of the surge of many more world- beaters.Australia still have a formidable side, emerging but serious talented batsmen, one of the best pace battery. They just miss a spinner. But they've missed that before too.

    SA have gone from strength to strength, leave the important ICC tourneys.

    India have unearthed a side which is still raw and getting into groove slowly.They could form into a gem of a side.

    Pakistan even with their unpredictability , can produce surprising results now and then , which is good for them and their country.

    Newzealand , England ,Srilanka and West-Indies have produced one talent after another. When they get their act together , they too will become formidable.

    The Future looks good right now. There'll high octane clashes,exciting stuff all around the world.

    This is what the world is looking for !

    Not just puppet show matches, where one side runs over another and you call it a world- dominant side !

  • raja on October 30, 2009, 13:32 GMT

    When a Sachin has scored 44 centuries in ODIs and 42 centuries in tests, what you expect more of this individual brilliance. If there's 400 runs to chase, hit all the 400?

    With all due to respect to the Lord himself,Even Lara can't do it again when he's chasing that in the certain time he gets.

    he may not have scored for you in a crucial match. But if only you want just him to score and win you, you need just one player for the team and not 11!

    We all can just criticize them. But you've got to accept that they're the ones who are representing us. They're the best in INDIA. Even if not all the 11, at least the 7 or 6 , whatever numbers you get at.

    Rather criticizing, support the team you've got. A leader is never born but made.

    A good leader always needs motivation and support. Be the support and let them play and become a Leader!

  • raja on October 30, 2009, 13:25 GMT

    I can't understand people here, who are criticizing Sachin as playing for personal milestones, personal interests.

    Can you people please clarify on that issue?

    You all say, that he never played for his team or winning a game. A cricketer who has nearly 100 centuries in international cricket. What you call him? A legend !?

    If no, check for yourself. people can argue that statistics never matter. Yes, statistics doesn't matter but if you check them with some analysis.

    here is what you can get:

    He has scored some 16921 runs at an average of 44.29 in a strike rate of 85.68.

    you may have expected him to score in a match which you wanted India to win.

    I too accept that as a fan of Indian cricket, i too want to see India on the winning lines always. But as sports do have. You can't have one sachin or a dravid and win your side over others.

  • raja on October 30, 2009, 13:13 GMT

    Australia just won a champions trophy very recently with the same team.They were hailed as world champions but when they lose, they cry as babies.Playing in India against India is an all together different game from the rest. Australia have always suffered playing in these pitches and quality spin or in-swing bowlers.Except for Mcgrath, no one has ever been able to adjust excellently to Indian bowling conditions. After him, Bracken was the best and now that he's not available, will you say that champion side as mere puppets. With the absence of Clarke and bracken in this side, I don't see any major change in the set up. Its just that they were found to be lacking for adaptation on the particular day.

    I still believe this Australian side is a world class side and though they're dominant as they used to be, they're still class.

  • Arvind on October 30, 2009, 13:03 GMT

    All u Aussie fans!!dont u have better things to do than hitting back as such silly comments...Oz have been the best team for over 2 decades now...full stop..India is amongst the emerging teams and have the potential to beat any team on their day...and have a loong way to go b4 they can be called with it..make no mistake i am still a proud Indian.

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