It not only was a lot harder than the Test match pitch, but it also had a tinge of green which meant the quicker bowlers had a lot more sideways movement as well as a lot of bounce. It certainly was not an easy wicket to bat on, but Tendulkar's prod outside the off-stump was not in keeping with the technique that he has. Promoting himself to the top of the order also showed he was looking to give his team direction from the front rather than go in to bat when his team was in trouble with a few wickets already down.
McGrath is a difficult bowler to score off anyway, and on this pitch he was impossible to even work away for singles. At the other end there was no respite, with Fleming bowling a nagging line around the off-stump. Ganguly, after his century in the previous game, looked in better touch and because he had been moving to the ball so well, he got out to a delivery that bounced and left him. It was only an in-form batsman who could have got a touch to that ball.
Dravid, having stayed at the crease for some time in the previous game, looked like the batsman we all know him to be and did not try to play at deliveries outside the off-stump which had been his problem in the Tests. And even he had to bring all his technical expertise into play.
Once more, it was the tenacious spirit of Robin Singh that helped him to come through an ordeal by fire as he got struck a couple of nasty blows but did not give his wicket away. It was another superb effort in the field that separated the partnership when India were hoping that they would take them to a total of around 150. Damien Martyn, who had taken over the first slip position after Warne's injury, came up with a diving catch that Mark Waugh would have been proud of.
In Andrew Symonds, the Australians have found the right type of player for this format of the game. He bowls usefully, picks up wickets, is an aggressive batsman and a brilliant fielder whose throwing accuracy worries the batsmen and makes them think hard about going for a run when the ball is around him.
A total of 100 is not enough to make the opposition worry too much, but an inspired spell by Javagal Srinath and good support from Prasad made the Australians sweat a little as they approached the target. Mark Waugh is struggling so much that he wasn't even getting close to some of Srinath's deliveries, and he looked a sorry sight as he either played and missed or got rapped on the pads. Inspite of surviving two very very close calls for lbw, he did not capitalise and was finally put out of his misery when the umpire upheld Srinath's plea the third time.
The showers that arrived came at the right time when the bowlers were tiring and it also freshened up the pitch. The Indians used the break in play usefully to sort out their tactics and it was clear that they were hoping that the duo of Srinath and Prasad would topple the rest of the wickets. Unfortunately, being a limited overs game, they could bowl only ten overs each and with no back-up seam bowlers, they were forced to rely on Ganguly, who not being the same speed, had to pitch the ball a little further up and was taken for runs.
The stranglehold that the pace duo had was broken, and thereafter the Aussies coasted to a win quite easily and in doing so also emphasised the depth in their batting.
Having lost all three games they have played so far, the Indians will have to win everything now if they have to qualify for the finals, and they will have to think seriously about their choice of the final eleven. They have to get a bit more variety in their attack and though it maybe slow going, their top batsmen need to understand that it is better to have wickets in hand for the final overs than to be dismissed in less than the allotted quota of fifty overs.
Professional Management Group