November 3, 2008

India let Australia off the hook at Delhi


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

How often we have watched India coming hard at their rivals in the cricket field and then letting them get away with it. This has been a regular feature of the Indian cricket. They have dominated the games without accomplishing the desired result.

India had done exceedingly well to post a total in the excess of 600 in their first innings, after having lost Virender Sehwag and Rahul Dravid very early. In fact both of them were back in the dressing room within the first hour and there were fears of the hosts getting bowled out for a low total after having opted to bat first at the Feroz Shah Kotla Ground, Delhi.

Double centuries from Gautam Gambhir and VVS Laxman allowed India to get on top of the bowling and a little cameo near the end from Mahendra Singh Dhoni ensured that the total of 600 was reached well before the close of play on the second day.

India, having knocked Australia over by a record margin in the second Test at Mohali, found themselves in position to seal the series in the third Test. The batsmen had set the platform and the bowlers, having looked so good in the previous game, were left to complete the job.

But history repeated itself over the next three days and India lost the grip on the match. In fact they had to battle it hard in the end to save the game. It’s not often that a team having amassed over 600 in the first innings found itself in danger of defeat. But nothing could be ruled out when it comes to the Indian cricket.

Not that the pitch was a graveyard for the bowlers on the Indians didn’t possess the resources to bowl Australia out twice on the last three days of the game. Speedsters Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma, both of having bowled their heart out in the first two games, suddenly lost the venom and the intensity.

It was quite extraordinary to find the Indians bowling and fielding so leisurely. Coach Gary Kirsten had to concede that the dropped catches contributed as much as the unimpressive bowling in letting Australia off the hook.

Mind you the team India was playing against was Australia. They are a great side in all forms of the game even after the retirement of Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne, Justin Langer and Adam Gilchrist. They availed the chances that came their way and they must have been mighty pleased by the generosity of their hosts.

The Aussies, unlike the Indians, were proactive and they deserved the credit for having turned it around. Their batsmen applied themselves and their bowlers were bang on target. They did have a hole in the spin bowling department but the part-timers contributed their bit and skipper Ricky Ponting should not have any to reason to complain.

It’s staggering to note that Michael Clarke and Simon Katich, who bowl rarely at the international level, often find a way to run away with the prized Indian scalps.


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