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Another long, tiring day in store for India?

Written by: Sunil Gavaskar
Published: Saturday, December 11, 1999, 0:00 [IST]
 
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India let slip a golden opportunity to put Australia in a spot by some unimaginative captaincy after lunch. With Australia on the ropes having lost their top four batsmen with barely 50 runs on the board, they were allowed to recover by being confronted by the amiable seam of Ganguly and Srinath bowling from the opposite end from where he had troubled the batsmen in the morning. Ricky Ponting and Steve Waugh were not only allowed to settle down but were also able to pick up runs at a fair clip so that when Anil Kumble was brought on they were set and moving confidently. It was baffling why they were not pressured with close in-fielders which may well have resulted in them playing a false shot and getting out. To be fair to the Australians they came out blazing after lunch and counter attacked but they were helped by India's tepid approach.

India may well have put Australia in to bat because of the slight tinge of green there was on the pitch so losing the toss and fielding would not have worried them too much. Javagal Srinath bowled superbly pitching the ball up and having the batsmen searching around the off stump. He resisted the temptation to bang the ball in and get it to thud into the keepers' gloves neither did he pitch the ball too far up for the batsmen to drive. This was crucial, for a lot of quick bowlers from overseas get carried away with the bounce they get and look to scare the batsmen rather than getting them out. Ajit Agarkar also kept the ball up but he erred on the fuller side and was taken for runs. As soon as Venkatesh Prasad was brought on he started to pose problems to the batsmen with his both ways movement and though his wicket of Langer may have been fortuitous, the manner in which he kept Mark Waugh quiet and then got him to chase a widish delivery was classic stuff. By going into the match with only four bowlers India had made it clear that they were looking to save the game rather than win it and even in that lineup of bowlers Agarkar was picked for the wrong reason and that was because he had scored runs. Now that is not why you pick a bowler, you pick a bowler to take wickets and on that front he has not done anything special so far.

Mohanty or Kumaran would have given better support especially in the early wickets but that again is in the realms of the ifs and buts of the game. Ganguly got the wicket of Slater who was beginning to look dangerous and it was after that India lost the plot. Ricky Ponting, coming from his near double century in the previous test, batted positively from the word go and for Steve Waugh it was just the kind of situation he revels in. With Ponting playing so well the Australian skipper could play his own game pushing the odd ball away on either side of the pitch and waiting with his customary patience for the bad delivery to come along. The only way they looked like getting out against an attack that looked bereft of ideas was a runout and that's exactly what happened. When the second new ball was taken, again it was hard to understand as Srinath was not given first use and Agarkar was. Tendulkar will have to do better than that if he is hoping to get Australia out within 400 or else it may well turn out to be another long and tiring day for the Indian team.

Professional Management Group

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