In the last two tests, India has had its chances but has failed to maintain adequate pressure as the Aussies displayed an all-round performance with aplomb. India would have done well to keep the Aussies down to around 250-275 odd, especially when both in Adelaide and Melbourne the Indian bowlers had stunned the Aussies with 92/4 and 197/5 respectively. As the pitch at that stage (in both games) was still offering great assistance to the bowlers, if the Indians could have only kept their cool... the fortune of victory could have well been theirs.
India won the toss and decided to bat as the wicket looked hard with a grass-top which would break up during the match.
The regular opener S Ramesh is out due to injury while endeavouring to fend off a snorter from Bret Lee during the last game. The other specialist opener Devan Gandhi who made 0 and 4 in the first test has been ignored for this Test.
There was reason for optimisim as a fair degree of thinking and reasoning must have gone into promoting lower order batsmen M S K Prasad to open the innings with V V S Laxman. Unfortunately they were sent back with dismal scores of 5 and 7 respectively as they failed to watch the ball to the very end and exhibited poor technique.
Rahul Dravid's powers of concentration were put to the test as there were few interruptions due to rain and the batsmen had to start all over again. Dravid played his shots well and was raring to take the odd bit of chance but perished at 29. Saurav Ganguly was sent back after he, like Dravid, failed to play up to his potential. It was excellent captaincy by Steve Waugh to bring in Blewett (who got Saurav out in the last game). Blewett succeeded in his very first ball as Saurav was not expecting a short pitched delivery.
Sachin Tendulkar, distraught at the performance of the Indian batting that has not come to terms with the pace and bounce of the Australian pitches must have desired to emulate his magnificent performance of an unbeaten 148 in 1991-92. That match was the only drawn game in their five-match series which India lost 0-4.
He was batting today with this disheartening experience behind him and the knowledge that his getting out inevitably meant a collapse would follow. Nevertheless he waged his lone battle forcefully and made a quickfire 45 before being adjudged Lbw to McGrath. Steve Waugh had at this stage bowled half the Indian side out for 102 runs.
India was 121/8 after 60 overs as play was called off due to bad light. Kumble (1) and Srinath (2) were the relieved though unhappy tailenders. Vijay Bharadwaj inducted in the side to give a boost to the much vaunted batting perished without much contribution Kanitkar did stay at the crease for some time but could not add much to the total.
Bret Lee again grabbed most of the applause from the spectators. He is a strong, athletic, consistent 23-year-old who has plenty of pace, not wanting to bang the ball in. He has a great in swinging yorker and at over 47 to get the ball to reverse swing is extremely creditable. D Fleming has been consistent with his line and nagging length, giving little scope to the batsmen to play their favorite cut-shots.
McGrath in his three-wicket haul from 14 overs cramps up the batsmen at does not allow them to drive or play their shots with ease.
Having fallen easy prey to the Aussie bowlers' exemplary performance, the Indian team members need to edify their mind set. An effective strategy is imperative to induce a cohesive performance and not let Australia get away with a three-nil victory.