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Beware: Cornered Ausssies - Partab Ramchand Column
by Partab Ramchand
Oct 28, 2008
There are no more dangerous opponents than the Australians when cornered and the Indians would do well to remember this when they take on the tourists in the third Test at New Delhi in about a week's time. The Aussies will no doubt use the extended break to give their morale a boost and plan their strategies. They will no doubt be heartened by the fact that they are down but not out and they can still win the series.

To be candid their below par showing at Mohali was a severe letdown for Aussie cricket fans. It's a long time surely since an Australian team has been so conclusively outplayed in every department of the game. The draw at Bangalore indicated that their batting could hold its own against the lustrous Indian batting line-up but there were chinks in the bowling. There was no spin bowling worth its name and the fact that they could not press home the advantage in the Indian first innings and allowed Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan to get half centuries reflected poorly on the pace trio on whom the hopes of the visitors were pinned. And when they came nowhere near bowling out the Indians in the second innings it was obvious that there were serious problems.

None however could have bargained for what happened in Mohali. What is galling is the fact that they have been unable to bowl out the Indians twice in a match. But the batting coming a cropper was totally unexpected. It's true that they have lost both batting and bowling giants in the recent past but over the past year in their absence the replacements had performed adequately giving the distinct impression that the Aussie bench strength could rise to the occasion. But in Indian conditions the inexperience was exposed. Only four of the squad had experience of playing Tests in this country before this series and as is well known India at home are pretty formidable opponents.

In an earlier column written just before the series I had made special mention of the home advantage and predicted that India would have the edge even though on paper there is very little to choose between the teams. After all in the last eight years India have lost only one series at home - against Australia four years ago. This will continue to be India's main advantage for the remaining two Tests. And of course the confidence that automatically follows after registering the biggest victory in terms of runs scored by an Indian team will certainly stand them in very good stead. It's not easy for even an Australian team to shrug off such a humiliating defeat.

The debate is already on whether this is the weakest Australian team to visit India. After watching the 1979-80 side led by Kim Hughes lose a six-Test series 2-0 I cannot subscribe to this view. That was a side badly depleted by defections to Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket. But certainly the ineffectiveness in the bowling this time is going to be a major disadvantage for Ricky Ponting as he prepares the ground for a comeback. The batting may yet click but I just cannot see the bowling trouble the mighty Indian batting line-up.

As far as India are concerned at the moment everything is hunky dory. The batsmen - both at the top of the order and the famed middle order - are among the runs. The bowlers - both pace and spin - are among the wickets. Anil Kumble's absence - both as captain and leading spin bowler - is hardly felt since new boy Amit Mishra is there to bewilder the batsmen and Mahendra Singh Dhoni's enterprising leadership is enough to inspire the team members to play above their level. It's difficult to see a turnabout in the series. But as I said the Aussies can be dangerous opponents when cornered and the Indians would do well not to let a sense of complacency creep into their game.
More Views by Partab Ramchand
  India vs Australia - Batting and bowling worries for the hosts
  Future of Indian cricket is in good hands
  Future bright for Irfan Pathan
  Basil D'Oliveira was a mighty fine utility player
  Ashwin is a stayer, not a sprinter!
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