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India v Australia, 4th Test, Nagpur, 5th day
Chappell: 'Ponting is still the best captain for Australia'
November 10, 2008
India prove far superior to Australia as they regain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in Nagpur
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'Ishant Sharma has shown a huge improvement since he toured Australia not so long ago and he was the big difference between the two sides' © Getty Images

India have comfortably won the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, winning the series 2-0, with both the wins - in Mohali and Nagpur - quite comfortable in the end. A lot of people would not have been thrilled with the tactics used by India in this game and I thought there were some cynical moments in this Test. I think if players are going to be allowed to slow the over-rates down as a tactic, then administrators really need to step in. But they have had problems with over-rates for over 30 years now and they haven't done anything serious about it so you cannot be surprised if the players use them cynically.

But India were far and away the better side. The important difference between India and Australia was the bowling attack. India's attack had an answer to all the conditions whereas Australia didn't. The Man of the Series was Ishant Sharma and he certainly was the big difference between the two teams. The fact that India were able to get more wickets out of their faster bowlers made it easier for their spinners and they had by far the better spinners. Ishant has shown a huge improvement since he toured Australia not so long ago and he was the big difference. India also got away to a good start on most occasions thanks to Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag. They were a dominant opening pair and they made a big difference for India.

It was an outside chance that the Australians, in the last innings of this Test, were ever going to win this Test because India were never really going to bowl enough balls to them to score the runs, for starters. Matthew Hayden, I thought, was quite controlled in his approach to the target on this occasion. Simon Katich, on the other hand, went a little berserk early on and paid the penalty for it. I thought it needed a bit more of a controlled approach if Australia were going to trouble India. Hayden, I thought played very well and there was perhaps a moment when Australia might have frightened India a little bit and that was when Hayden and Michael Hussey were together. Hayden was playing very powerfully at that stage, and Hussey as always was playing smartly, pushing the ball around. They complemented each other beautifully and things were going quite nicely for Australia. But Amit Mishra did a terrific job for India. First he got rid of Ricky Ponting with a smart under-arm throw and then he bowled a beautiful delivery - a subtle variation - to get rid of Hussey and that was really the end of it for Australia. They kept going for their target and this meant India could keep getting wickets and in the end they won by 172 runs.

Dhoni has now the got the side that he wants. He was the acting-captain in Mohali and so he was involved in both the Test victories though they saw two totally different performances from him as a captain. What he showed in Nagpur was that he was going to do it his way. He has not bothered about what the world has to say about his tactics. He has shown he is there to win and that is all that matters to him. It was a big turning point in the game when he closed the Australians down when they had started so well in the first innings and so he can turn around and say, "You all can go jump in the lake, my tactics worked." I don't like the idea of bowling to an 8-1 field. I think its rubbish cricket and I think they have to get in a rule which says that you cannot do better than a 6-3 field either way, but I wouldn't like to hang by the neck waiting for the administrators to make that change.

Ricky Ponting is still the best bet as captain for Australia. I think he is a good captain but for god's sake, he has got to stop getting himself into trouble with the over rates and putting himself in a position where he cannot bowl the bowlers that he wants

The Australians will be disappointed by what happened. But in essence they never had an attack that was going to work enough for them to work in India. You can't blame Ponting totally for the loss. Obviously a captain gets some of the blame but you can't give him the total blame. But his tactics after tea on the fourth day - particularly because it was such a significant moment - will always remain a query. He will certainly be questioned quite severely about it when he goes back home.

But Ponting is still the best bet as captain for Australia. I think he is a good captain but for god's sake, he has got to stop getting himself into trouble with the over-rates and putting himself in a position where he cannot bowl the bowlers that he wants. He has got the advantage that on going back home he has to front up against New Zealand in a week's time. New Zealand are a very ordinary side at the moment and they will be further hampered by the loss of Jacob Oram and Australia will win the two Tests pretty comfortably unless they are badly affected by weather. And that will settle down any of the critics back and home and will also give Ponting some time to settle back into the job. But Australia's big Test will come when they meet South Arica later in the summer and it will be interesting to see what happens then. Certainly Australia's attack is better suited to their conditions than it was to India.

But in the end the Border-Gavaskar Trophy went to the right team: India were superior to Australia.

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell is a columnist

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Posted by rohit on (November 12, 2008, 1:50 GMT)

TO different get over it. we know india is not the greatest team in the world. but we also know australia is on the decline. no-one is saying india is the best we are all disapointed that the aussies are such sore losers.

Posted by john on (November 11, 2008, 15:06 GMT)

ian, i noticed you appear to be at pains not to mention the name andrew symonds why, how do you think his absence affected the australian team?.

Posted by Pranesh on (November 11, 2008, 8:09 GMT)

It won't be too far when Mr. Chappell will criticize reverse-swing and would make a statement that the administrators should ban reverse-swing as its not in the true spirit of the game. To make it more simpler, watever Ozs can't do well, should be banned from the game. After all they are the number 1 team and they can't loose it at any cost. So ICC should make all the efforts to achieve the same and frame rules accordingly.

Posted by Mark on (November 11, 2008, 7:52 GMT)

I want to second on of the above comments, I completely agree with many that Ian Chappell is among the most astute of cricket thinkers, commentates with a old world charm. He sums the analysis of the series finely. What I din't expect from him was his dissapointment of Dhoni's tactics. I anticipated that a typical aussie that he is, would say, it was a masterstroke of a tactic as it was novel, helpful and well within the rules of the game. Spirit of the Game is a subjective terminology, Sledging certainly is not within of the spirit of the game, but is a part of cricketing tradition.

Posted by Rangarajan on (November 11, 2008, 7:04 GMT)

First of all congratulations to Indian team as they made the world champions of test cricket look awfully different.Lot of talk about the tactics adopted by India was right or wrong , unsportive etc.. As far as I can think, in Test cricket, there must not be any restriction like what Ian advocates. It will kill the game. For a moment imagine test cricket without bouncers! You will get no spectator on the boxing day in Melbourne if such rules are implemented. Rarely should there be a law like minimum over rate etc as they are spectator friendly.

It is the bowling team's prerogative to adopt a certain field setup and the batsman must adopt himself to play. Imagine bowling Virender Sehwag or Kris Srikanth wit 8 fielders on off side.. they will still smack Bret Lee for a six over point region! Bravo Australia..Improve.. You got the taste of your own medicine.

Posted by Shashank on (November 11, 2008, 6:26 GMT)

Ian I completely disagree with you on 8-1 field. I think Dhoni was smart enough to employ it. Also, why are you blaming Dhoni for slow over-rate when Ponting is guilty of the same...And your bias can be easily made from the statement "but for god's sake, he has got to stop getting himself into trouble with the over-rates and putting himself in a position where he cannot bowl the bowlers that he wants"....Now how does one know that ponting didn't bowl his overs slowly as tactical ploy on 4th day morning....after all india were over 100 for no loss and scoring over 4 an doesn't have to be sherlock holmes to know the answer..

Posted by Bob on (November 11, 2008, 6:13 GMT)

Firstly, in response to maha1971: Ian Chappell had nothing to do with Underarm. That was Greg and Trevor Chappell.

To the crux of the article. I honestly don't think Ponting is Australia's best choice as captain. I think he is the 'least worst'. Clarke is still a little green, Hussey, Lee and Hayden aren't natural captains and no one else has been around long enough to be considered. So Ponting it is. His main problems with over-rates are his insistance on setting fields with his bowler at the start of every over it seems. Usually this takes the form of Ponting and said bowler looking rather confused and worried about exactly what they are trying to achieve. No wonder people think Australia is losing it's mojo. Could you imagine Warne, or McGrath - Hell even Merv Hughes or Craig McDermott showing batsmen that they weren't sure what they were doing? It would never happen. It seems that Plan A is gone after one shot, and Plans B thru Z come out very quickly. No faith, bad captaincy.

Posted by VIJAY on (November 11, 2008, 5:48 GMT)

Australia,as usual, had prepared well.For example, although Harbhajan probably bowled at his best, Australia played him well. He got fewer wickets than his bowling deserved.They knew how to deal with gentleman captain Kumble They were however, not prepared for India's surprises.Gambhir& Mishra, nor the sustained hostilty of Ishant& Zaheer.They thought India's seniors were over the hill.And above all, had not reckoned with street smart captaincy of Dhoni.They had no answers to these surprises! They could not think on their feet! That certainly was DUMB cricket, not expected from Australia !

Posted by Vinayak on (November 11, 2008, 5:26 GMT)

1.0 India won the series more because of luck and also unlucky Aussies

2.0 By using dirty tactics India has killed the game and sporting spirit

3.0 NObody has said anything about umpiring dscisions since they were

mostly in Indias favour. If it was otherwise BCCI would have raised

hue and cry.

4.0 Beating Australia does not mean that India is no. 1 India has

to go long way to achieve that. They have to gain ICC ranking

at least for 2 years. They have also to win at least 10 matches

consecutively. I am doubtful if India can ever do that.

5.0 India has to win outside India. They could not beat even SL.

6.0 Indian players are liars crybabies and blackmailers.

Posted by Ravi on (November 11, 2008, 5:12 GMT)

8:1 ? Nothing new in what Mr.I C has said. Bias? :) I am sure I C didnt miss out on the fact that it is the same 8:1 which did almost fetch a wicket (Dravid dropped Katich before his century) - isnt that a smart tactic? Why doesnt he talk good about the way the Speedsters demonstrated how to bowl to such a field? Punter the best? - oh no way - I would rate Mark T, Steve W and Allan B above him. They created fighters which Punter used in the early part of his career. I guess any tom dick or harry could have lead that bunch of folks (warnie, pidgeon, langer, martyn, gilly, gillespie et al) A Leader is one who inspires people - alas - he hasnt inspired any of his folks.

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