Bangalore: What a terrific game of Test cricket it was.
At the start of this series few would have given India much hope of winning in Perth. In fact, of the four venues for this series, the fast bowlers paradise WACA Ground would have been the least likely to provide an Indian win.
The hype leading into the match centred on a pitch that would provide pace and bounce akin to the famed WACA pitches of old.
The expectation led to Australia overlooking a specialist spinner in its line-up for the first time since 1991/92, when on the same ground, Craig McDermott, Merv Hughes, Paul Reiffel and Mike Whitney helped produce a 300-run win over India.
However this time around the disciplined team effort from Indians saw the tables turned on the numero uno Test side. Team thatscricket disects how Indians brought hi-flying Aussies down to earth in Perth.
Sachin-Dravid stand in Ist innings: The veteran batsmen Tendulkar (71 off 128, 9X4s) and Dravid (93 off 183, 14X4s) added a fine 139 runs for the third wicket. This partnership set the tone for an historic win in Perth. India was in some sort of bother with 59/2 when Sachin joined Dravid in the middle. Tendulkar dominated the partnership, scoring with sublime ease. It was an innings which made you just sit back and admire his stroke-play. The fielders were reduced to spectators as the batting maestro time and again displayed the knack of finding the gap. The hallmark of Tendulkar innings was the upper cuts he played off Lee. Only a batsman of Tendulkar class can execute these kind of risky shots without an element of risk involved in it.
On the other end, Dravid was his usual self stonewalling everything he came across for first hour or so before opening up to play some typical cover-drives, cuts and pulls. The bangalorean was unlucky to miss out on a deserved century. Dravid also continued his good work after Sachin's departure milking the slow-ball bowlers for 64-run stand with Laxman for the sixth wicket. However India's total in first essay would have been much batter had our batsmen were selective in shot making. Nonetheless 330 was a good score on a tricky wicket like WACA.
Pathan swings: All-rounder Irfan Pathan, who is playing his first Test of the tour at the cost of Harbhajan, did everything he could in the Perth Test. His initial spells in both the innings were crucial. 23-year-old left-arm seamer from Baroda swung the new ball both the ways on a hard WACA wicket. He sent the Aussie openers packing early in both the innings. And in second essay he provided his side the much needed breakthro' on the fourth day when the tail-enders Clark and Johnson frustrated Indians with a brisk 73-run stand for the ninth wicket.
Pathan also came in handy with the bat with a steady 28 in the first innings and it was his patient 46 coming in as nightwatchman that proved crucial in the end. He held his ground firm despite wickets tumbling at the other end. Pathan earned man-of-the-match award for his efforts. This Pathan is certainly the Pathan we know...
Sehwag, The man possessed: Sehwag forced his way into the playing eleven for WACA Test with a blazing ton in the tour game against a novice ACT XI. He didn't disappoint his skipper. Sehwag back in Test fold after a long lay-off didn't looked rusty. And his arrival balanced the batting line-up too with Dravid, who was struggling as opener, switching back to his normal spot and Scahin, Sourav and VVS followed. He did precisly what he is expected to. Delhi swashbuckler provided India a flier on day-1 that set the tenor...
This 29-year-old delivered with the ball too. He was used so as to rest pacers after a long spells in hot and humid conditions on day-4 but Viru disturbed the timber work of Gilly with a rank turner and followed it up with Lee's wicket. He struck 46 runs in typical fashion off 66 balls with six boundary hits. Viru also had a hand in Ponting's dismissal-it was he who convinced Kumble to give one more over to Ishant and lo and behold lanky Delhi seamer struck with his second ball which eventually spurred Indian bowlers to clean up Aussie innings.
Crisis man Laxman: The crisis man of Indian cricket is a class act. How often he has saved Indians the blushes. This fiesty batsman has got the uncanny knack of shepherding the Indian tail. VVS, who has a special liking for Aussies-be it in home or away, pulled his side out of the trouble with a crafty 79.
Hyderabad skipper was involved in two fruitful partnership- one with Dhoni which yielded 75 runs and the other with RP for 51-run stand- that saw the tourists set a Himalayan target for the hosts. India was in dire straits when VVS made his way to the middle. He constructed his innings nicely milking the ball in the gaps for singles and couple interspersed with odd boundary hits. His flicks, drives and pulls are worth going a thousand miles to watch.
RP-Ishant deliver...: Young Indian pace attack did a commendable job. Lanky Delhi paceman Ishant is a revelation for India Down Under. Ishant with high arm action not only extracted sharp and steep bounce but also swung in and away to trouble right-handers. He tormented Aussie skipper in his initial spell on the penultimate day eventually packing him off with a length delivery that nipped away late to induce an edge for a regulation slip catch. This vital breakthrough triggered Australian collapse. In the first innings too he had Ponting with a same mode of dismissal.
RP Singh is a proven performer. He played a key role in India's victory in England, World T20, home series against Pak and now in Australia. He is here to stay. RP removed the reliable Aussie batter Hussey for his maiden Test duck for a caught behind and later cleaned up the hosts' tail with sheer pace and swing in no time. This UP lad played a brave knock for his 30 off 59 balls in the second innings adding 51 runs for the ninth wicket stand with VVS which helped India set a mammoth target. He then returned to dismiss Hussey in the second essay before plucking the last Aussie wicket of Tait for a famous win.
Capt. Kumble: Skipper marshalled his bowlers impressively bowling 'em in short spells in hot and humid conditions. Kumble scaled peak 600 to join the elite league when he dismissed Symonds in first ininngs. It was double whammy for this 'gentle giant'.
With over 17 years of international experience behind him he knows his opponants, their strengths and weaknesses and knows how to utilise the available resources to combat... Ponting was clueless with Ishant's bounce and swing right thro' the series and Kumble brought in Ishant when Punter is in the middle and this move yielded results. Kumble will be around though in short spells when Symonds, who is predominantly a back foot player, comes in for Jumbo knows he stands a batter chance to dismiss burly Queenslander with a quicker, and flatter one. Kumble had his bunny in both the innings plus the well set Clarke in second innings. What a shrewd cricketer he is.
Kumble mild -mannered off the field and fighter to the core on is certainly an excellent ambassador of Indian cricket.
Dhoni never lets it go: India gloveman Dhoni too had a good outing at WACA. He held onto a record five catches in the first innings and claimed 2 catches and a quick stumping to dismiss Clarke in the second essay. He shone with the willow too with 19 and 38.
On the other hand, Ponting has to be blamed himself for having given a prolonged spells for Symonds and Clarke which cost too many runs and eventually the game for Aussies. The services of Hayden up the order was sorely missed. And Shaun Tait, who went wicketless in both the innings with an insipid spells, was a big let down for the hosts.