The Aussies thrashed Kumble’s boys by 337 runs to win the opening Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy series on the fourth day at MCG on Saturday. India with their strong batting line up had set an historical-challenging 499 runs to win but collapsed dramatically later in the day to go down in one of their heaviest defeats.
We Indians are eternal optimists when it comes to Indian cricket. In India, cricket is celebrated like a festival and our cricketers considered invincible. The T20 World cup win and followed by the defeat of Pakistan on our soil had shot Indian hopes on the highest. The manner in which our boys fought the Aussies in the T20 battle both with performance and words had given a whole new dimension to the game. It has always been tough to fight the Aussies in their game as well as the word game and our boys dared to do it. Following the defeat in T20, the Aussies had declared to thrash Indian team on their soil.
Indians showed remarkable performance by almost dismissing Australia on the opening day with Anil Kumble hauling five wickets, but steadily declined under the pressure of Ponting’s boys and finally went down with a huge defeat at 4:31 pm on the fourth day. Our boys fought out for two sessions in fierce heat but were unraveled after tea losing five wickets for 27 with left-arm paceman Mitchell Johnson taking 3-21 off 15 overs.
After Australians dismissed key batsmen Sachin Tendulkar and Laxman by Saturday’s middle session it was clear that India will have a tough time. All hopes were on Sachin and Laxman to give Australian bowling a hard game, but they could not overcome the odds.
Brett Lee set up Tendulkar with a short-pitched ball and followed up with one outside off-stump which he chased after for his favourite square drive and edged to Adam Gilchrist. Tendulkar was generously applauded from the ground by the small crowd in his fourth and farewell Test at the MCG where he averaged 43 in his eight innings at the home of Australian cricket. The champion batsman, who lies second (11,366) only to West Indian Brian Lara (11,953) for most Test runs, scored 15 and lasted only for 31 minutes and faced 21 balls.
Laxman battled for almost three hours and 112 balls before he fell driving Stuart Clark to Michael Clarke in the covers for 42 in the 54th over. Yuvraj, who forced the switch of Rahul Dravid to open the innings to fit him into the Test lineup, failed for a second time, lasting just 16 minutes before he was tricked by wrist-spinner Brad Hogg’s flipper and was leg before wicket.
Wicketkeeper Mahendra Dhoni was the first to go after tea, caught by Gilchrist off Johnson for 11. But it was skipper Anil Kumble’s dismissal for eight, also caught behind off by Johnson, that triggered three wickets in four balls to hasten India’s defeat. Harbhajan Singh was run out for a duck by Mike Hussey, Sourav Ganguly fell next ball, lbw to Brad Hogg for 40 and RP Singh was last man out, playing on to his stumps off Johnson for two. Andrew Symonds grabbed Dravid’s wicket before lunch, trapping him lbw for 16 with one that kept low. Dravid, who scored five off 66 balls in the first innings, again proved to be “the wall” for the Australian bowlers facing 114 balls in 150 minutes with two boundaries. But Symonds finally got one through his defenses hitting his back pad on the low, slow drop-in MCG pitch. Gilchrist overtook Ian Healy as the Australian wicketkeeper with the most dismissals with his catch of opener Wasim Jaffer for 15 off Brett Lee. Jaffer had been caught by Gilchrist off a no-ball off the first delivery of Lee’s seventh over, but was on his way two balls later to the same mode of dismissal.
Only three teams in Test cricket history have scored 400 or more in the fourth innings for victory. The Australians claimed their 15th consecutive Test victory and will look to equal their world record of 16 wins set from October 1999 to February 2001 in next week’s second Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Though the defeat has given a sting in the ‘not yet over ‘T20 win but as usual we all are optimist enough to hope that our team will get back into action in the series and turn the tables on the Australians. There are plenty of reasons to believe in a win in this series – a strong batting line up, a good bowling side and the good form of our team. But on the Australian soil, history has not been so good for the visiting teams.
Indian cricket fans are at least not as ruthless as the Indian media, which takes no second thought in dropping their stars from the glorious peak into the deepest pit. Indians everywhere have kept their fingers crossed, made their prayers and vows to make sure that the luck is on the Indian side. Let’s see..