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Monday, December 31, 2007

Are India capable of matching Australia? First Test reviewed

Australia 343 and 7 for 351 (dec) defeated India 196 and 161 by 337 runs with a day to spare.

Perhaps nobody, not even the Indians themselves, believed that they could chase down 499 on a fourth and fifth day MCG pitch, but many would have expected, and most, if only for the sake of the series, would have hoped that they would have made a better fist of things in theit second innings.

But it wasn't to be, and they couldn't even match their feeble first innings score. Once again the Australian bowling squashed any flickers of resistance. Nobody made 50; only VVS Laxman 42/112b and Saurav Ganguly 40/78b passed 20, and their 41 partnership for the 4th wicket was the highest for the innings. All five Australian bowlers (Andrew Symonds being the fifth) combined in a most efficient demolition job, one which must have left the Indians wondering how they can present credible opposition to Australia for the remainder of the series.

Scorecard.

What can India do?

First, the batting needs to re-energised (to put it as tactfully as possible). This can be done by, among other things, bringing Virender Sehwag into the team as an opener, and allowing Rahul Dravid (a fish out of water in this game) to drop to his customary no3 position. Either Wasim Jaffer or (more likely) Yuvraj Singh should be dropped.

Second, the fielding, particularly the ground fielding, needs to improve several notches. Anyone who had seen much of either Australian innings in person or on TV would know what I'm talking about.

Third, some thought should be given to the balance and composition of the attack. Anil Kumble was the only Indian bowler who was worth his place for the whole game. Whether Harbajan Singh, who lifted his game somewhat in the second innings, should stay in the XI for Sydney is one moot point, and whether the best available pair of quick bowlers played at the MCG is another.

On paper the team India fielded for the First Test was very strong, especially in batting, so should we suggest that its failure to make 200 in either innings was an aberration? Perhaps so, but then was Ricky Ponting's failure to reach double figures in either innings also an aberration?

Much as I respect the abilities of Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman and Ganguly, I'm more inclined to think the latter.

Link to
Cricinfo coverage.

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