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India should focus on tactics and strategy
by Gulu Ezekiel
Mar 01, 2008
The Aussies must be laughing themselves silly. They have laid a well-planned trap for the Indians and they appear to have fallen into it head first.

MS Dhoni is right in a way when he says sledging is an art, though hardly one to admire or emulate. But he should also realise by now that Ricky Ponting and his street-smart men are the champions of the sneaky sledge and there is no way in the world this young team can compete in this particular category. The proof, if needed is obvious from the results between the two sides over the last six months. When Australia toured India late last year, they easily won the ODI series 4-2.

Now the reigning world champions have already claimed the Test series and judging by how they have distracted their opponents on the eve of the tri-series finals, the ODI crown should be theirs as well.

When all the bad blood was spilled following the second Test at Sydney, the threat of boycotting the rest of the tour was ridiculous. The only fitting answer that could be given was on the field of play and sure enough Anil Kumble hit back in the best way possible by stunning Australia at their favourite hunting ground, the WACA.

Instead of giving tips on how to beat—or even compete— the home side at their own game, Dhoni and the brains trust should concentrate on tactics and strategy.

If they can keep their focus on the cricket, the Indians have a great chance of winning the tri-series title at their fourth attempt.

Australia are vulnerable as Sri Lanka proved in the final league game at the MCG on Friday and the Indians too have put up a great fight in all the league matches against the Australians. Despite his century in the last match against India, Ponting’s form has been poor and Andrew Symonds too is struggling.

The raw Indian pace attack has been world-class and has clearly out-performed the other two teams in the league phase It is the batting, particularly the top-order that has looked vulnerable. Hopefully Sachin Tendulkar is peaking at the right time following his sparkling 63 against Sri Lanka at Hobart.

If he fires in the finals, the Indians can be confident of ending this long and bitter tour on a winning note, that too in the 29th and final year of the ODI tri-series Down Under.

But as the senior statesman of the side, Tendulkar would also do well to counsel his young wards. His is the perfect example of how ignoring abuse on the field makes the abuser lose focus and this is one of the reasons he has such a splendid record against Australia. They have long since come to the conclusion that sledging the master batsman is a waste of energy and indeed, counter-productive.

Matthew Hayden’s cowardly attack on Harbhajan Singh in that notorious radio interview and his sick imitation of Ishant Sharma’s accent—“racial vilification” to use his own words—is a very poor reflection on his character.

Back when the opener toured for the first time in 2001 the Indians could not figure out how a devout man who crossed himself in thanks to the Lord every time he reached a batting landmark could indulge in such abuse against the rival team.

It would be interesting to see if the IPL franchises decide to drop Hayden, Ponting and Symonds from their teams if the public turns on them when they participate in the league from next month. The negative publicity and backlash may just force the owners’ hands and that would hit them where it hurts the most—in their pockets.

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