“Cricket is a funny game”
Yes indeed! But certainly it turned out to be no fun for the Indian supporters on the occasion of first test between India and Australia, seeing their mighty team end up in a disastrous loss to the hosts at Melbourne. From what was viewed as an opportunity for the Indian team to prove themselves overseas after a fabulous victory at their home turf against Pakistan, the scene merely collapsed to sustaining their glory and reputation after a terrible falldown against the Aussies in the very first test. A landmark victory of 1-0 against Pakistan in the test series didn’t seem enough to counter the steadiness and professionalism inherent in the game of the Australians.
This is the first test series under captain Anil Kumble in Australia and therefore, without mention, there was a lot of pressure on him to keep the standards of his and the team’s performance comparable to that of the Aussies. He tried his level best to make stand India a chance in the test by restricting the Australians to 343-10 through his five wicket haul in the first innings after a flier by Hayden and Jaques. But still, their total seemed too massive for the Indians, specially under the fury of the Australian bowling attack (or was it the surrender of the Indian batsmen?). There were some astonishing decisions like Johnson being declared not out when caught in forward short, courtesy the umpire, he made 15 without much harm. Following this, there was series of blunders with Yuvraj being given out caught behind, when the ball was far from kissing the edge of the bat and then, an incorrect decision of dismissing Kumble which eased the Australians in their mission.
Anyway, as the famous quote goes, “the show must go on”. Bearing the burden of the first test loss, the team India moved on to their second opportunity (the second test at Sydney) and so did the supporters. The debut day of the second test saw the Indians spring back to action and challenge the spirit of the Aussies with the likes of R.P. Singh and Harbhajan dominating the initial sessions. But here again, Andrew Symonds and Brad Hogg made sure India’s dash towards victory was not a cake walk with a fabulous partnership of 173 runs. Hence with initial hiccups, the Australians managed to race to a competitive total of 463 (I might say too competitive if the Indian batsmen show consistency in their first test performance!) But this time, Indians were a bit more decent in their approach with Rahul Dravid being steady and firm or the so-called “the rock” of the team joined by some appreciable strokes of VVS Laxman leading India to a total of 216/3 at the end of the second day’s play.
And here is what the statistics reveal, two days of playing, some great action by the Indians, countered by some real patience and display of character by the Australian batting tail and three more days of play waiting to crown the emergent winner in this clash of the titans. So while the Indian team fights this battle to sustain its position in international cricketing arena, we hope this time destiny listens to the call of the fans driving this “cricket freak nation”!