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India look Under-prepared
by Gulu Ezekiel
Dec 21, 2007
There is an uneasy feeling that the Indian team is woefully under-prepared as it goes into the opening Test at Melbourne on Boxing Day.

There is no doubt that the BCCI is guilty of greed in pushing the team into the first Test with just one warm-up game behind them. The more days ‘wasted’ with such revenue-less games, the fewer would be left in the calendar with which to bung in another lucrative ODI (or increasingly, a T20I).

Sure, the days of long, leisurely tours with four to five lead-up matches (or more) before the first Test are far behind us. Such scheduling has been dumped on the scrap heap of cricket history, much like the traditional rest day that usually came after the second or third day of a Test match (and once memorably following the first, but that is another story).

As ill luck would have it, even the one match the tourists have had to prepare for the Melbourne Test has been struck by rain. Has any side in cricket history gone into a major Test series with so little preparation? And this straight after a series against a spineless Pakistan side on flat batting tracks. Worst-case scenario? India bat first, find themselves caught on a bouncy track against a red-hot pace attack and half the side are sent back with next to nothing on the board. The rest of the Test is a desperate salvage operation and the template for the series is set.

Overly pessimistic? Perhaps.

The flipside is this Australian side may well struggle to dismiss the mighty (on paper, at least) Indian batting line-up twice with a relatively raw bowling attack that is without Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne, as it was the last time India toured back in 2003-04.

The difference this time around is the Aussie batting also lacks the solidity of Justin Langer and Damien Martyn and the injured leg spinner Stuart MacGill.

Just as India stopped the juggernaut run of Steve Waugh’s mighty side in Kolkata in 2001 after 16 wins on the trot, Ricky Ponting now has 14 in a row under his belt. The cricket world will be looking once again to India to put a halt to that streak. Indeed, no side has a better record against the Aussie giants in the 21st century and the time is ripe to fill in a blank in India’s Test record abroad.

This series marks the Diamond Jubilee of India/Australia cricket with Lala Amarnath having led the first post-Independence side Down Under back in 1947-48.

Australia and South Africa are the only two countries in which we have not recorded a Test series victory. But India first played in South Africa only as recently as 1992.

There are no survivors from that ‘47-48 team. And this will surely be the last time Anil Kumble, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar display their skills on Aussie soil. How memorable it will be if their swansong has an Indian lilt to it.

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