India ends Australia’s dominance of world cricket (Round-up)November 10th, 2008 - 8:57 pm ICT by IANS
Nagpur, Nov 10 (IANS) India have been insisting that Australia are no longer the invincibles and they have proved it in a telling fashion with an emphatic 2-0 series win to regain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy here Monday.Led by Mahendra Singh Dhoni, a captain who thinks out of the box, India pulled the rug from under the Kangaroos with a 172-run win in the fourth and final Test here. He was the stand-in skipper for injured Anil Kumble at Mohali when India thumped the Australians by a whopping 320 runs in the second Test.
The visitors fought back in the third Test in Delhi, but that was like the dying flicker before their known never-say-die flame was extinguished at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium here.
Ricky Ponting’s team will go back with more questions unanswered than they tried to answer before the series began. From now on the other major teams will fancy their chances of breaching their once-impregnable fort.
For the record, India’s was a commanding performance the many distractions in fourth Test notwithstanding. In-form Gautam Gambhir had to sit out with one-Test ban for his misdemeanour in the Delhi Test. Skipper Anil Kumble abruptly decided to call it a day at Kotla and Sourav Ganguly had forewarned that the Nagpur Test would be his last.
Dhoni might have led India to victory at Mohali but captaining the team in the crucial final Test under such trying circumstances was a big ask. He did not disappoint.
Barring the hara kiri committed by the batsmen on the fourth afternoon, the Indian went about their job with clinical precision. Dhoni himself showed the way with a half-century that not only inspired Harbhajan Singh but also took the Test beyond the Australians.
On the final day, Australia needed 369 runs to win but they never looked like making it. In fact, it was the Indians who pressed home for victory, claiming three quick wickets before the lunch break.
Ishant Sharma and Zaheer Khan, who played major roles in the series, led the charge. They bowled a probing line and length with the new ball and Ishant tempted Simon Katich (16) to a slog pull and the resulatnt top-edge ended in a skier for Dhoni to pouch.
An indisposed Michael Clarke (22) came to bat with a runner but he was at the receiving end of the lanky fast bowler who forced him to nick one to Dhoni.
With the two wickets Ishant took his series tally to 15 that made him the man of the series.
Ponting’s poor luck continued as he was run-out by a brilliant direct hit by Amit Mishra charging in from mid-off.
Matthew Hayden, however, carried on in an aggressive manner, looking to score off almost every delivery. He made the best of the two lives he got from Dhoni and Rahul Dravid.
India came out with a better plan in the post-lunch session as they operated with spinners Harbhajan (4-64) and Mishra (3-27), who caused a middle-order collapse. Australia folded up for 209 unable to cope with the spin.
The spinners played their part Monday, but skipper Dhoni acknowledged the role of fast bowlers as the defining factor in the series.
“Fast bowlers did the trick for us in the series. They did not have much to do on this wicket, but they bowled their hearts out and were well backed by the spinners and part time bowlers,” Dhoni said.
The India skipper felt the team not only had evolved strategies, but they executed them to win the series.
“It doesn’t matter whether people say we are the best team or not or whether we have won or lost the previous match. In every match, one has to start from the scratch. It is important that we carry the momentum. During the series we had the motivation, we had the plans and most importantly we executed those plans well.”
Australian captain Ricky Ponting graciously admitted that India have been the better side in the series.
“We were totally outplayed by India in all departments and we have a lot to learn from the tour. It has been a fair result to tell the truth. We played good cricket in Bangalore but from there on we have been chasing our tails.”