The Australians have been playing quite brilliantly and, I suspect, going into the match were very relaxed - simply looking to do a bit of fine tuning in the lead up to the final series against Pakistan. However, they would still be very much in the zone as far as playing to win is concerned. Stephen Waugh is very ruthless in this regard and he would have been insistent on the Aussies not dropping their guard and playing a sloppy game. The Indian side, on the other hand, are down and out. Their summer has been very frustrating with plenty of disappointments. The big guns just haven't fired at the right time and thus they have never really played anywhere near what we know are their capabilities.
This match represented a final opportunity to restore some pride and confidence in the side before leaving Australia and taking on another formidable foe, the South Africans. The fact that the Indians fought like tigers in pushing the Aussies all the way bodes well for this upcoming series. I have been impressed with several of the young players on this tour. Dighe looks like a find as a 'keeper/batsman. I hope the selection panel persists with him. I am confident he is going to be worth the effort. Ajit Agarkar is another player with heaps of potential. He continued to amaze us with his extraordinary pace, considering his stature is more like a jockey than a quick bowler. His miseries with the bat won't continue, as he is a much better player than he showed in Australia.
Of the senior players, their performances were spasmodic. Rahul Dravid started to show glimpses of his best form towards the end of the one day series. Hopefully, this form will continue on his return to India. Ganguly showed his class at times throughout the summer. His side will need him at his best against the Africans.
So, India returns home after an extremely tough tour 'Down Under'. I get the feeling that the selectors may need to do a little bit of restructuring if the side is to compete against the South Africans front on. Traditionally, India plays very well at home so the nucleus of the side should remain the same. I still believe they need to look for a left arm spinner who will complement Anil Kumble. Maybe after his performance in Perth, Sunil Joshi is that man. I'd also like to see Ajay Jadeja back in the side. I'm sure he'd add a lot of solidarity and experience to the middle order.
The big question will be the captaincy issue. It appears from the outside that Sachin Tendulkar is carrying a huge burden by doing this duty and the pressures are affecting his batting. If this is the case, then it is imperative that Sachin is relieved of the captaincy and allowed to get on with the job of scoring runs - a job he does with the utmost class. Sachin is a nice young man and it saddens me to watch his struggles in charge of a team that is under performing. Maybe Jadeja is the man to put some spark back into the Indian team. To the selectors, I wish them the best of luck.
Professional Management Group