'Aussies losing grip as world's top team'

Published: Monday, November 3, 2008, 12:07 [IST]
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New Delhi: Stating that Australian bowling has lost its sting legendary Ian Chappell today said the world champions are slowly slipping from the pinnacle of world cricket.

Australians are struggling after the retirement of key players like Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Adam Gilchrist and Chappell said the team has lost the balance which made them world beaters.

''Australia are rarely a poor side but this team is nowhere near the class of yesteryear. They still know how to fight to the death, as India have found out in Delhi, but they are now a flawed team,'' the former Australian captain wrote in his column in the 'Sunday Telegraph'.

''Teams like India, with a good opening combination, are going to regularly set Australia stiff targets and they are going to find it harder to win Test matches,'' he added.

The 65-year-old was specially worried with the spin bowling department which has proved to be the achilles heel for the visitors during the current series.

''There's a lack of balance in the bowling attack that could easily see the selectors occasionally risk playing four faster bowlers and rely on part-timers like Andrew Symonds and Clarke to handle the slow bowling duties,'' he added.

However, Chappell asserted that the batting is still going strong and the way the world champions fought back on the spin friendly Kotla pitch was reassuring for Australian fans.

''There's not too much wrong with Australia's batting; they have battled India's spinners on a helpful but slow Feroz Shah Kotla pitch and displayed an admirable mixture of caution and aggression,'' he quipped.

''Sure, they still have a few tremors when the ball swings, whether it be old or new, but they have one champion batsman in Ricky Ponting and three very good players in Hayden, Hussey and Clarke.'' Chappel's comments underline the quandary the Australian team finds itself in on the ongoing tour. They are trailing the Test series 0-1 after suffering a humiliating 320-run loss at Mohali and will need to put in special effort in the fourth Test at Nagpur to level the series.


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