India lacked hustle, aggression

Written by: Ian Healy
Published: Wednesday, January 26, 2000, 0:00 [IST]
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Coinciding National Days was the closest the Indian team got to Australia on Jan 26 in Adelaide. Australia posted their 2nd highest score and never let India off the floor.

From the day's outset, it appeared to me that India's first victory the previous night had sapped them of some important qualities. Intensity, hustle and aggression were employed only by Australia as they blasted an opening stand of 163.

Gilchrist and Mark Waugh combined better than Paes and Bupathi. When one accelerated, the other steadied. That pattern reversed several times to confuse the Indian bowlers who couldn't work out which batsman they preferred to bowl at. The fielders were also at a loss to know how to stop the constant sentencing, metered out almost every ball.

Gilchrist's 10th fifty was scintillating, after a slowish start. He slapped Mohanty mercilessly through the offside and continued the onslaught against Kumble, who was introduced to stem the flow.

Safe singles worked down the ground as well as clever deflections and sharp singles accompanied the already mentioned power. Two sixes over mid-wicket off Kumble and Ganguly, I'm sure, had the Indians very nervous about a possible 50-over score.

The second of the pair contributed evenly to the onslaught, but carried it on for longer. Under the hammer for average form recently, he answered in style, in his own time. Never one to rush, 'Junior' simply stroked his way patiently, to his 14th One Day ton in the 41st over. He didn't play with extravagance but the certainty of his play demonstrated that the work he's been doing is bearing fruit of the sweetest kind.

The punishment hadn't finished though, and the tempo was further enhanced by Symonds' promotion and that of Shane Lee who both smashed 15 balls everywhere, following Ponting's 43 from 33. The quality of Australia's depth was again to the fore.

We then saw brilliance in Australia's fielding. Shane Lee pouched a catch at 1st slip, which Adam Gilchrist went for and missed. Stuart MacGill surprised everyone with the stealth he showed at 3rd man, having to move and lunge at full pace to catch Tendulkar. Many other instances of ground fielding excellence were on show.

McGrath, who this week became a dad in Sydney and took a couple of days off, showed only positive results from taking that rest. His miserly instincts were back in full and his new son will definitely have to labour hard for any pocket money, if his father's bowling is an indicator.

Career economy rate of 4.02 runs per over with a strike rate of a wicket every 37 balls suggests he's fulfilling the team's plans, which generally are to attack for wickets early, before settling into a mode of containment.

Brett Lee fired up once again and his speed caused Tendulkar to be late on a lofted cut shot, which flew flat to MacGill. Kanitkar's first ball duck, LBW to Lee, had the rookie tearaway on his third hat trick of the summer.

Jacob Martin allowed it to pass to the keeper who was positioned alongside four slips and a gully. Lee has impressed me greatly not just with his pace, because I've witnessed that from the scary end, in a Shield match last year, but also his accuracy.

This is rare for a genuine quick and it wasn't the same for blokes like Thommo or Merv, who knew it was hard for the batsmen if they themselves didn't exactly know what was going to happen!!

The batting had nothing after early wickets and they were given less than nothing by the Aussies who refused to consider complacency. Dravid could finally be well pleased with his top order effort and he'll want more, even still.

So now it's crystal clear what India must do and I'd have to bet against them doing it, seeing their lack of urgency and aggression today. I urge them not to give it away and please go back to yesterday's motto against Pakistan of 'let's give it all we've got'.

Procam International

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