Once invincible Aussies take on confident India (Preview)October 8th, 2008 - 2:51 pm ICT by IANS
Bangalore, Oct 8 (IANS) They were the Invincibles. They steamrollered every team in their path with effortless ease. The Australian played their cricket hard, backed themselves and bragged that they could crush their opponents. But that was in the past.Perhaps, the retirement of greats like Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne and Adam Gilchrist has taken the steam out of their engine. Or possibly, the indomitable shows of the Indians since the folklore 2001 series, celebrated for V.V.S. Laxman’s magnificent 281 as much as Rahul Dravid’s 180, has humbled them, subduing their domineering aggression.
Somehow, this Ricky Ponting-led Australian team does not exude the confidence that they once flaunted so proudly and wantonly in the past. Steve Waugh would agree with this.
On the other hand, India who were the whipping boys of the hopping Roos until the 1999-2000 away series, are a bubbly and confident bunch. They believe that they have the right ingredients to humble the Australians again. But they would be imprudent to take their opponents from the Antipodes lightly, despite having the home advantage.
Matthew Hayden, Mike Hussey, Michael Clarke, Simon Katich, Shane Watson, Brad Haddin and Ponting, despite his frugal aggregate in India (172 runs in eight Tests), are capable of putting up sufficient runs on the board, a platform from where the explosive Brett Lee, Stuart Clarke and Mitchell Johnson could rock the Indian batting, which not long ago was at sea in the Emerald Isles.
The pressure will be as much on the visitors to maintain their reputation as on India’s “Fab Four”. One poor series in Sri Lanka, where India lost 1-2, has put Sachin Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman and Sourav Ganguly under tremendous stress. So much so that Ganguly, India’s most successful captain, has announced he will hang up his boots at the conclusion of the four-match series.
That the media has unjustifiably sat in judgement over batsmen who have been prolific and consistent over a decade or more would be good reason for Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman and Ganguly to fire in what is expected to be a stimulating series. If they do, India should triumph. If they don’t, they will be providing the Doubting Thomases fodder for their ammunition.
Comparatively, India has the edge in bowling, more so on aisles which are bound to assist fizz, turn and bounce, though Nagpur was an exception when Australia toured in 2004. The Aussies are woefully short of experience in the spin department, which would put the impetus on Lee, Clark and Johnson to share the workload on unresponsive wickets. Even if the wickets do assist fast bowlers, India have Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma and Munaf Patel, a trio which had Ponting’s men on the hop eight months ago.
Now that coach Gary Kirsten has raised doubts (obviously triggered by the cricket board) about Anil Kumble’s ability to produce the goods, the Indian captain would be desperate to prove his detractors wrong, as he has so strikingly done since making his debut in 1990. With 616 sticks already in his bag, he would strive to add another 30 odd before he bids adieu. He certainly does not like being told by someone that his time is up.
If on-field controversies, which marred the last series Down Under, don’t raise a stink, it should be a great cricket contest between two sides which have produced champagne cricket over the last seven years.
India: Anil Kumble (capt), Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, V.V.S. Laxman, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Harbhajan Singh, Ishant Sharma, Zaheer Khan, Munaf patel, S. Badrinath, Rudra Pratap Singh, Amit Mishra.
Australia: Ricky Ponting (capt), Matthew Hayden, Simon Katich, Mike Hussey, Michael Clarke, Shane Watson, Brad Haddin, Cameron White, Bret Lee, Mitchell Johnson, Stuart Clark, Jason Krejza, Phil Jaques, Peter Siddle, Douglas Bollinger.
Umpires: Rudi Koertzen (South Africa), Asad Rauf (Pakistan). Third umpire: Amish Saheba.
Match referee: Chris Broad.
India against Australia at Chinnaswamy stadium
Tests: 3; Won: 0; Lost: 2; Drawn: One.
India at Chinnaswamy stadium:
Tests: 17; Won: 4; Lost: 6; Drawn: 7.