India should have focussed on run rate

Written by: Syed Saba Karim
Published: Thursday, January 27, 2000, 0:00 [IST]
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Mark Waugh's batsmanship and Brett Lee's pace combined to inject a lethal dose to India. This defeat has left India with virtually little or no chance to qualify for the finals. Yesterday there was some light at the end of the tunnel for India, but today sadly, the intensity which they portrayed was missing.

Mark Waugh finally struck form to score an elegant hundred. He and Adam Gilchrist tore the Indian attack to shreds. They cut down on flamboyance and relied on playing straight.

Mark Waugh was subdued initially, a wise stance as Adam Gilchrist was firing all guns, but after Gilchrist's exit, he showed his class. He got back his timing, looked very focussed and we saw his customary onside shots.

The best aspect of this opening pair is that they rotate the strike very well. A right and left-hand combination never allows the bowlers to settle to a consistent line. Today, these two ran the Indian fielders ragged and posted the best opening stand of the season.

The way they batted, they are gearing themselves for the finals. It was an important knock for Gilchrist as he was not able to convert his 20s and 30s into big scores.

Today he came down heavily on Mohanty and Kumble. He utilized his strength in shot-making to the full. Wide deliveries from Mohanty were dealt handsomely with and whenever Kumble pitched outside off-stump, he hoisted him over square leg with ease.

In the first 15 overs, only the experience of Srinath and Venkatesh could manage to contain him. Ricky Ponting was the ideal player to come in after Gilchrist's dismissal. He turned the heat on at the right time. When Mark Waugh was nearing his century, he took the initiative by playing the big shots, never letting the momentum go.

Andrew Symonds and Shane Lee in the end contributed with quickfire innings. These two are terrific all-rounders. Both are big-hitters, really an asset to the side. They were instrumental in posting a mammoth score.

Back- to-back games are always a tough proposition. It seemed to have taken its toll on India. It was evident in the way they fielded today. It was unfortunate that they had to field again first, the tired muscles had no time to rest. No wonder most of them looked jaded.

International cricket is tough. It requires lot of fitness, mental as well as physical, to meet the demands of the game. Today it was surely missing in their efforts.

It was a huge task to chase 300 plus. Sachin and Saurav had to come good if India wanted to make a match of it. Their loss in the first 15 overs turned this game into a no contest.

McGrath, back in the Aussies team after a one-match break, was spot on. He claimed in-form Ganguly, getting him to play away from his body. Shane Lee pulled off a dramatic catch. Gilchrist dived in front of him, obscuring his view completely, but he had the sense to keep his hand in the right place.

The big break was provided by Brett Lee, who induced Sachin to cut uppishly into the hands of diving McGill. With the top two batters gone, India just did not have the firepower to cope with the Aussies' attack. Brett Lee tore into them and completely devastated India.

Rahul Dravid's brave knock went in vain. His innings contained 10 fours, which reflects that if he is aggressive in his attitude, he can do wonders to the run rate. He still needs to rotate the strike to become a good one-day batsman as the dot balls suggest. Today, he lacked support from the other end. No other middle-order batsmen offered any resistance.

It was imperative for India to at least post a good score so that their net run rate remains good. Today's lack-lustre reply by India batsmen has pushed their net run rate far behind the Pakistanis.

After the loss of the early three wickets, the middle-order should have stabilised, and instead of getting to 330 they should have looked at posting 250 plus, in order to keep their net run rate closer to Pakistan's. By not doing so, they have frittered away the advantage they gained yesterday against Pakistan.

India has to win the last two games, no question about it, but they need to win with a handsome margin. They have to display the same intensity and fire which they displayed against Pakistan.

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