October 23, 2010

India’s rare triumph in battle of young brigade


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

It didn’t look like a true Australia-India game with both the countries packing their sides with an eye on the future rather on present. I don’t agree to the theory of both the nations having fielded a second eleven with the World Cup 2011, to be played in the sub-continent, in just a few months time.

The Indians have had this habit of obliging the visitors by not picking their strongest available side but the Australians have not been known for giving away caps cheaply. Therefore I was little surprised when they chose to enter the second ODI in Visakhapatnam with three inexperienced fast bowlers.

That seemed one of the reasons why the Indians got away with it this time round. Otherwise their young sides have often fared miserably with the disaster in Zimbabwe having taken place just a few months ago.

The Aussies proved too fragile themselves to contain the flamboyant duo of Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina while defending a total of 289. Stand-in captain Michael Clarke didn’t have the ammunition to come good on the flattest of tracks.

I was under the impression that the match had gone Australia’s way once they had plundered 84 runs in the last five overs of the innings. Cameroon White continued to be India’s nemesis and the experienced Clarke had no problems in milking the bowling.

Australia, having been jolted at the start of the innings by the seasoned left-arm quickie, Ashish Nehra, seemed to have done a great job by setting target of 290 in the end because at no point one foresaw them crossing the barrier of 250.

As we have become accustomed to watching over the years the Indian bowlers were taken for far too many runs in the final overs after having exercised control in the earlier part of the innings.

But there was an unusual story when India began the chase. Having depended heavily on the tried and trusted trio of Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar and Gautam Gambhir for kickstarting their innings they had three new faces with two of them, Murali Vijay and Shikar Dawan, failing not unexpectedly.

The third one, Kohli, turned it around with the knock of his life yet. His magnificent century lifted the home side and his productive partnerships with Yuvraj Singh and Raina settled the issue decisively.

It was one of the rare occasions when the youngsters had done it on their own for the home side who were prone to crashing in the absence of their star performers. Kohli proved many critics wrong with his technique and temperament.

There was not much element of surprise in the half-century of Yuvraj, having had to struggle for form and fitness for the past many months, but the knock of Kohli was something of a sensation.

Raina’s onslaught took the pressure off the limping Kohli, who celebrated his ton with a series of boundaries to seal the fate of the game. Ideally he would have liked to stay until the end but he was caught in the deep once more while attempting to clear the fence. We have seen him so many times getting dismissed in such a manner.


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