Australia in 'sweeping' form

Written by: Syed Saba Karim
Published: Wednesday, January 5, 2000, 0:00 [IST]
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Australia has won the Ansett Australian Series defeating India by an innings and more.

It has been completely devastating for the Indians, who have arrived at the fag end of a miserable test series. Having failed in all departments despite the skipper's brilliant knocks in the earlier two tests which have only helped the Indians to avoid the ignominy of innings defeats at Adelaide and Melbourne. On Tuesday however, India went down to an innings defeat despite the sparkling and valiant 167 runs from V V S Laxman. The Indians were in trouble from the word go. It is evident that the present Indian cricket team is not comfortable in the grind of test cricket. Getting outplayed by a better team is a big disaster when compared to throwing away the wickets without any effort for an even encounter.

India's predicament began with the absence of a firm first wicket stand. The astonishing and appalling decision to open with wicket keeper M S K Prasad (five & three runs respectively in the two innings) was asking for too much as his best at number seven has been 14 runs in the series. However, V V S Laxman was in scintillating from with a total of 167 runs off 198 balls, his maiden 100. The first Indian hundred of this century provided the anchor for the Indian innings when the wickets were buffeted around by the stormy bowling of the Aussies.

Sachin stayed for only four runs. Rahul turned with a duck, while once again he played well outside the off stump.

Anil Kumble exhibited an understanding which was essential for solid rearguard action. He provided intelligent support to V V S Laxman. Kumble came good with the bat in both the innings with his contribution of 26 and 15 runs respectively. Some frustration was apparent during this partnership as these two Indian batsmen hit the Aussie bowlers for a few boundaries.

Ajit Agarker walked in looking desolate with an lackluster score card of successive ducks. He came in to face the thunder in the form of Glenn McGrath. Agarkar did well to leave the first ball but sadly knicked the second ball to the wicket keeper for his fifth duck.

The resplendent knock by the stylish batsman from Hyderabad, V V S Laxman came after he took a few blows on his body from McGrath as he came in to bat. His footwork against Shane Warne was exemplary and he played against the pace with ease. He resisted the temptation of playing behind the wicket which devoured Hrishikesh Kanitkar who tried to hit the ball behind the square.

The bane of Indian batting in this series has been the non-performance of Saurav and Rahul. The Indian batsman are solid in defence but have not shown enough aggression.

The marauding Aussie bowlers had penetrated the Indian defence and extracted life from the fairly favorable batting pitches at the three test venues. McGrath was the most successful bowler with his second ten-wicket haul in this series. Fleming was precise and claimed the vital wicket of Sachin while keeping the pressure on the batsman. Brett Lee thoroughly deserved the applause from his teammates as he forced the well-settled V V S Laxman to knick into the gloves of Gilchrist.

Resuming at an overnight score of 331 for 4 the performance of the Australian batsman was near impeccable. Justin Langer batted his way to the distinction of scoring the first 100 runs of this century on second day at the SCG. Langer went on to add a second hundred on the third day in a fruitful partnership with Ricky Ponting who scored the second 100 of this century. Langer batted in his characteristic fashion with immense determination. He dropped anchor after getting his hundred. With organised footwork he got plenty of runs down the third man and drove well hitting in the covers. A good horizontal bat player, his solid temperament is exemplary. Ricky Ponting took his cue from Langer and batted for early results.

India had happy moments with Srinath's bowling. His wicket taking ball is the one which holds its line after pitching on the seam-Slater's wicket was a classic example. Srinath got Steve Waugh out for one which jagged back sharply. Saurav proved his worth as a bowler again by getting the dangerous looking Mark Waugh out to a lazy shot.

Captain Steve Waugh was happy with the tremendous team performance by the Australian side and remarked that it augurs well for the future. The Australians have had a winning season after the 3-0 victory over Pakistan, their win today with an overwhelming margin was convincing. They walk into the triangular series with confidence.

The Indian team has to work on its game plan and approach which has to be result oriented. Their tactics must have more confidence and aggression commensurate with the talent in the them. The cricketers have to think as a team and take responsibility for their individual roles. It is the job of the coach and the captain to take the team into confidence

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