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    October 29, 2004



    India were crushed by 342 runs at Nagpur, their biggest margin of defeat ever. Australia thus wrapped up the series with one more to go at Bombay. This is Australia's first test series win in India since 1969/70, their final frontier conquered. But given the way Australians approach their cricket, I am fairly sure this is not their final frontier. It was Steve Waugh's final frontier. Australia will keep redefining their boundaries. Last year it was winning two world cups in a row and becoming the first team to win three. This year it was winning the ICC Champions Trophy [they failed] and winning in India. Next year? Possibly winning the Ashes 5-0? Champions keep redefining their goals. Never satisfied, was the title of a Steve Waugh diary a few years ago. It is completely applicable to the Aussie team.

    Except for the first three days of the Madras test, Australia won just about every single session. The little battles added up to the big war being won. Aside from Hayden, none of the Australian top seven has really failed. Even if you add in Lehmann and Langer, you still have four other batsmen who've made centuries [or 99, in case of Katich]. Contrast that to India's batsmen. Only Sehwag made a century and Kaif has batted fairly consistently. The second highest rungetter for India is Parthiv Patel. Tells the story, doesnt it?

    India lost to a much better prepared side. Australia did their homework and more importantly, executed the plans to perfection. India may have also done their background work, but ultimately its how your bowlers, batsmen and fielders go about executing the plans which matters. By cutting off access to the boundaries, Australia's fielders and bowlers out-thought India's batsmen. Even after three tests, if the batsmen, save perhaps Sehwag, have not been able to adjust to the tactics, then questions need to be asked about what their preparation for the games has been.

    I hope that Parthiv is retained for the Bombay test so that he is given an opportunity to prove his supporters wrong. He really ought to be sent back to domestic cricket for a year or two to pick up elementary keeping skills. The problem though is that none of the other claimants for the wicket-keeper slot are being talked about on the basis of their keeping ability. It is Dhoni's and Karthik's batting ability which has brought them on the verge of [or to] international cricket. Perhaps its time to look at Ajay Ratra again, who kept quite well in the chances he got. Yes he never did make runs the way Parthiv has in the last year. But I cant remember him messing up things. I certainly cant remember him letting balls slip through his gloves to hit the helmet causing five penalty runs.

    South Africa and Pakistan visit India over the next few months. Its not going to be easy, even if South Africa will bring a largely experimental side with lots of new faces. Pakistan are not doing too well against Sri Lanka at the moment, but if they switch on, they are deadly. I hope the lessons of this series are not lost in case we get back to winning ways during the rest of the season. Just as Australia kept its 2001 defeat in mind while planning for 2004, India must keep this defeat in mind while playing any side, let alone Australia.

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    Thus spake Jagadish @ 7:49 PM |
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