November 6, 2010

Further glories for Sri Lanka, miseries for Australia


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Starting from the English summer, the Australian cricket continues to sink further and the much-dreaded string of failure has extended at home. More alarmingly the spate of defeats continues unabated and there’s no respite even at their all-time favourites venues like the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) and the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).

The two historic grounds, having witnessed the home team conquer the most fancied of opponents over the years, were the venue of the debacle of the Aussies lately. They were beaten narrowly by Sri Lanka in the first One-day International at the MCG while the margin of defeat was a bit more concerning in the following ODI at the SCG where the series was settled with a game remaining.

The present generation in Australia is not accustomed to watching their cricket get humiliated for so long. They have grown up in the days when Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting inflicted wounds on one opposition after other, with the possible exception of India, in an era when no team dared taking them on.

Ponting is very much around even today but he has neither the form nor the fitness to worry the opponents. His successor Michael Clarke hasn’t had the best of starts to his captaincy career and the think-tank in Australia has every reason to get concerned and chalk out different plans to arrest the decline.

It had all started with a poor series against Pakistan in England about six months ago. Having dominated a much stronger Pakistan outfit at home when they won all nine international games against them, they got derailed against all odds while facing a depleted side.

Whether the Australians were guilty of under-estimating Pakistan completely or they went into the games casually there was certainly an element of shock in their below-par performance in England.

After losing the plot in both the Twenty20 Internationals, in which they failed to chase modest targets despite having being crowned as the world champions in the fastest version of the game only a few months back, they let down their supporters by their horrible performance in both the Test matches that followed.

In a country where the seam bowlers do the business in the early part of the summer, the Australians had to look to their part-time bowlers for bowling Pakistan out. They escaped defeat in the first Test but were humiliated in the second Test to have the series leveled that they were expected to win comfortably.

What has followed since then has obviously been less surprising. Their struggling side was taken care of by the formidable Indians at home and now another powerful side, Sri Lanka, has availed the opportunity of settling scores with them.

Unfortunately from the Sri Lankan point of view it’s just a mini-tour. The form they are in they would have desired staying much longer in Australia to improve their record in this particular country.

Kumar Sangakkara’s men, high on confidence, have wrapped up the ODI series after having pocketed the one-off T20I. Now they should be looking forward to return from Australia undefeated by winning the third and final ODI, It will come as no surprise if they do it.

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