Saturday, 29 December 2007

Australia vs India - Debacle down under

Unfortunately I've been watching the cricket well after midnight over the last few days. The good news is that i didn't watch it all. I recall watching up to until lunch on the first day and seeing Australia race to over 100 without loss, and thinking 'same old India' always flatter to deceive. India were soundly thrashed, and with the exception of the post lunch and tea periods, they never troubled the Aussies juggernaut.

Not going to make any excuses, as not many teams can withstand the Aussies in their own backyard, and they played really well. However the Indian board does need to think over a few things:
  • Why would you only play one practice match (which was almost completely washed out anyway) ahead of an important series away in Australia. Surely you would want your players to acclimatise to the conditions etc. Maybe the fixture calendar needs to be looked at to ensure players can prepare for such tours.
  • A lot has been mentioned about having Dravid opening. He clearly looked uncomfortable during both innings. And fans world wide do not want to see one of the greats of the game scratch around for over 100 balls to score a paltry 16 runs. However Dravid has opened before with great success, so whats changed? Even when he came in at 3, more often then not in recent history (due to a lack of a good opening pair) Dravid has probably faced the new ball anyway, so i don't see why such a big deal has been made, it's more a psychological thing than a technique issue in my opinion. I think its very evident that the tactic of accommodating Yuvraj by pushing Dravid up to open backfired, and that too very badly. Both Jaffer and Dravid played with no urgency, and were quite content with just defending every ball, rather than looking to push the Aussies back. The two are very similar, in that neither really has an attacking instinct, and therefore its hard to gain any initiative with these two paddling along and scoring barely a run each over. I'm afraid it puts the middle order under immense pressure if your openers spend hours at the crease without the scoreboard ticking over. The selectors are going to have to shuffle the order or dare i say bring in Shewag. Shewag is the type of aggressive batsman who can wrestle the initiative away from the Aussies IF he is in form. Obviously someone will have to sit out if Shewag does return. Do they drop Jaffer who has recently scored a big double hundred? Do they drop Yuvraj, who played brilliantly against Pakistan in the third test, but failed miserably in this test? Or is it Dravid that faces the chop, he's been out of sorts for some time now? The Indian selectors will have to make a tough decision if the do not want to see this team destroyed by the Aussies.
  • I also don't think that the 4 bowlers chosen in this match are good enough to bowl out the Aussies twice. They only managed to get 7 wickets in the second innings because Australia were pushing on to set a huge target and declare.
I was watching star news the other day, and as usual the media back in India gets very excited with the exploits of the national team. The news coverage was full of "how India can win this series" etc.. They really need to get some form of a reality check. On the flip side they will really lay in hard in to the Indian team now that they have lost, and rightly so. But i don't see the point in the media building up the team and then knocking them down. They should applaud them for their victories, but not go over the top, which is what they do.

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