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India once again lacked the intensity over 50 overs, batting and bowling, and let off Australia when they had the upper hand
October 2, 2007
The ground conditions held up, the rains stayed away but the match itself turned out to be a damp squib. For the second game in a row India had Australia under pressure - and yet again they failed to go for the jugular. And then combusted when they were under the gun chasing a big total.
India took wickets relatively early, as at Bangalore, but allowed two crucial partnerships to prosper. There was swing from Sreesanth early on on what eventually became a slow, sluggish pitch that made batting tough. When Australia batted the outfield was surprisingly fast given the rain but India's bowlers compounded the problem by offering the batsmen width. Zaheer Khan achieved early deviation but couldn't sustain it. Sreesanth got the ball to swing generously but as the surface eased up due to the climate, he heated up and sprayed it around. Still, Australia were three down for 66 and India had their number.
That's when Australia showed what champions are made of. While Matthew Hayden ticked away Andrew Symonds decided to throw his weight around as early as the 22nd over. Ramesh Powar tossed up a slower one and Symonds slammed it away over midwicket for six. That inspired Hayden to raise his fifty with a powerful sweep over midwicket for half a dozen as well. Batting is about pairs and Australia worked it just like that, adding 94 for the fourth and 108 for the fifth.
Those were separated by a moment of success India failed to cash in on. Sachin Tendulkar and Powar weren't on song - Hayden hit sixes off each - and Mahendra Singh Dhoni swapped Powar for Irfan Pathan. The move paid off instantly as Pathan cleaned up Hayden with his first delivery. Australia should have been forced to rebuild again but while Pathan kept it tight from one end there was no pressure from the other.
Instead, the field was spread and Brad Haddin was allowed easy singles. He picked Harbhajan Singh for runs and the bowler wasn't taken off immediately, so giving the new batsman confidence. Sreesanth returned and was predictable (or unpredictable); both Haddin and Symonds made hay off his bowling. India's off-spinning duo, unlike Australia's spinners Brad Hogg and Michael Clarke later in the day, was ordinary. Symonds and Haddin played them confidently, announcing their intent early with sixes. The run-rate never slipped below five-and-half after those two shots.
The Indian innings was then held in check by disciplined pace bowling and brilliant fielding. Australia, like India, got stuck in early. Mitchell Johnson accounted for Gautam Gambhir with movement and bounce and bowled at searing pace, touching 149.7kph on one occasion.
Australia made it to 306 because of partnerships but India didn't forge anything of note. Loose shot followed loose shot. The one silver lining was that the batsmen made Brett Lee look ordinary. But the difference in the sides was that when Lee fizzed, someone else fired.
As Dhoni admitted after the match, the batsmen failed to rotate the strike, failed to "hit out without taking risks" and succumbed to the pressure. As in Bangalore, he emphasised one point. "We're starting off well. Our fast bowlers are getting wickets, even though we give some boundaries. Up until the 20th over we bowled very well... but after that we gave too many runs. Plus we're not bowling well at the death. We need to work on the middle overs, especially between the 30th and 50th overs."
Therein may be the problem for India. After the success of the Twenty20, they just haven't adapted to the one-day game. That lovely bright sky kept up all day - but while the sun shone on Australia, India remained under the clouds.
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