Australia clinch series

Published: Thursday, December 30, 1999, 5:30 [IST]
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That most of the current Indian batsmen lack the spirit of challenge was underlined in the Melbourne Test on Thursday. Even the presence of a great performer in Sachin Tendulkar failed to kindle the flame of ambition. So it was yet another meek surrender by India to Australia. The home team has taken a decisive 2-0 lead in this three-Test series with a 180-run win. The final Test will be played in Sydney from January 2.

Depending entirely on the class and skill of Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly could be detrimental to the team. This was proved beyond doubt in this series. Dravid has been a big disppointment thus far. Ganguly did promise a lot in the four innings he had played. But then, India needed big knocks from this left-handed stylist bastman. His inability to build an innings exposed the brittleness of the Indian batting line-up.

So it was all left to the genius of Tendulkar to provide some respectability to Indian cricket in the international scene. But like a true champion, Tendulkar himself strongly believes that his big knocks would render him immense satisfaction only when they (the knocks) help India win. Poor skipper, he had to wage a lone battle in the Melbourne Test. And no individual could achieve the desired result for his team against the current Australian combination. Australia is blessed with quality performers in all departments of the game. Just one Tendulkar is not enough to put up a stiff challenge to this champion side.

In this Melbourne Test Tendulkar's fabulous century in the first knock helped his team to avert the follow-on. And when India was set a victory target of 376 runs, the batting line-up gained a rare chance to redeem itself. But it failed miserably. Opener Sadagopan Ramesh injured his finger and did not resume after retiring at 26. India tumbled from overnight score of 40 for one to 195 all out in 89.3 overs. Today, Dravid deserted his skipper at 72.

His tentative effort to guide the ball to the fine- leg landed into the gloves of Adam Gilchrist (72 for 2). Then Ganguly after a promising spell with Tendulkar left the scene at 110. Australian skipper Steve Waugh introduced medium pacer Greg Blewett for the first time in the match. That move paid rich dividends. Blewett found the inner edge of Ganguly's blade and the ball shattered the stumps and India's hopes as well.

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