Posts Tagged ‘Mike Hussey’


Prasad Moyarath

History repeats. For a cricket team which depends a lot on history, this can be a solace after its comprehensive innings defeat in SCG. India is 2 down going into the WACA Test like in 2008 but unlike 2008 this team doesn’t inspire any confidence in its followers to remain optimistic. When the captain of this side which has now lost six consecutive Test matches outside the subcontinent says “We can beat this team in Perth”, it draws only laughter.

Not much to celebrate for the Swami Army this Australian Summer so far.

SCG has always been a favorite venue for India for its comparatively low bounce and help to spin. Batting is easy on the first few days and there are many memorable knocks by Indians there including those from Tendulkar and Laxman. Those who anticipated the Indian batting greats to flourish in SCG were treated to a show of their fading antics which were rustic and devoid of any flamboyance or passion. The realization that the Great Wall has developed cracks, Laxman – no more Very Very Special, Sehwag – a lottery and Tendulkar – trepid while nearing his personal milestone, was a jolt for many.

Dhoni looked courageous but was unrealistic with his decision to bat first. The Indian procession to the dressing room started in the first over. Sehwag looked like playing club cricket in both the innings and it is time for someone to remind him that he cannot continue in the side as a once in a while performer. Though Gambhir put up a brave face in the second innings when the conditions were good for batting, he never looked convincing whenever the ball moved or bounced. Dravid never lived up to his stature and Australians succeeded in rearranging his stumps for the fourth time (once of a no ball) in this series. Laxman looked rusty though he scored a half century in the second innings. Ageing footwork and reflexes of Dravid and Laxman have been exposed in Australia. Kohli showed glimpses of his talent but did not utilize the opportunity. Only Tendulkar looked assured but his continued inability to play a long innings should be a worry for the Indians. Dhoni once again proved to be a non performer outside the subcontinent and his unbeaten half century in the first innings came more because of the Clarke’s decision to attack the tail enders than his batting ability. Ashwin once again proved that he has the abilities to become an all-rounder. Indian fast bowlers never looked menacing except Zaheer on the first day. This can be attributed to the good batting conditions and also to the short gap between Melbourne and Sydney Tests. Dhoni’s mediocre captaincy made run making easy for the Australians. Seeing the Australian bowlers correct their mistakes after each session, the Indian supporters were forced to wonder whether this Indian team really has a bowling coach.

After a poor start, the Australians sent Indians for a leather hunt. Unlike the Indian veterans, Ponting and Hussey seemed to improve with age. Clarke assured an Australian victory in the 100th Test in Sydney with a captain’s knock and a prized wicket and declared the innings without bothering about his personal milestone. Will this open the eyes of those Indians who see every Test match as a venue for Tendulkar’s milestone? Haddin had a very poor match behind the stumps. The pace trio of Pattinson, Siddle and Hilfenhaus once again tormented the Indians. The Australians had a plan for every Indian batsman and executed it to perfection like in Melbourne.

Australians made a remarkable comeback after their poor performances against South Africa and New Zealand and made the 100th Sydney Test, their own. The innings defeat in SCG has flooded the Indian camp with gloom and now it is up to the team to sit together and find a way out. The WACA pitch is well known for its pace and bounce and the Indian win there in 2008 might have prompted Dhoni to express optimism in the presentation ceremony after the SCG Test. For the moment, all the Indian fans are heart broken not because of the Indian team’s loss but because of its lack of passion, professionalism and willingness to fight. Swami Army summed up the Indian minds in their song “Why This Kolaveri Di”.


Goutham Chakravarthi

There are many ways to look at Clarke’s declaration. For now the divide is even. Some say it was Pup putting team before self: the Australian way. And some say it is more to do with Pup was deliberate to declare there to show he put his team before self: desperately wanting to show that he does it the Australian way. He still has some way to go before he can win the public over. But, it is certain that an Indian captain wouldn’t have declared with another two and half days left, bowlers jaded, fielders disinterested and with a batsman closing in on a world record. And Clarke’s celebrations on reaching 100, 200 and 300 were stories in themselves. He has said the right things through the summer and has been intuitive and impressive for a young captain.

Clarke: Ace batsman and captain. He'll hope his image of a person with questionable lifestyle is all about to change.

Not another wicket fell for the visitors in another day of uninspired effort on the field. Barring Ishant, the bowling lacked penetration. It was like watching a perfect cover drive over and again. It is hard to forget that Clarke walked in to a crises on Tuesday. Those who remember it as a big score on a flat track against a blunt attack have short memories. It could all have been a different story if he had nicked one early. It has been Clarke’s Test so far, and might have firmly established himself in to the job and begun the turn around for Australia.

For the Indians, there is little point in staring at the obvious. It is all fancy to call Dravid as the wall with an open gate after he has been out bowled thrice this series. And Sehwag can be more annoying than gum sticking to your shoe on his bad day. There are reasons for them being on this tour and that cannot be forgotten. Gambhir’s determination came through and Haddin will have played his part should Gambhir go on to play a marathon innings. India will rely on Gambhir to anchor and Tendulkar and Laxman to find their Sydney magic. Their best deeds have come in this land, and there is still hope that there is time for magic even on their last series in Australia.

India’s fall from grace has been spectacular over the last year. They, evidently, seem to find more holes than they can sew every passing Test and seem to lack direction. Their reputation on being a tough side to beat seems now to be a fading memory, in black and white. India are now at crossroads and need something spectacular to lift them up (and not Kohli’s finger-lifting kind).

It is but obvious that changes are inevitable sooner than later. India’s rebuilding cannot mean dismantling the current, but needs vision on how best to use the tools at hand to be in a position to challenge for a top spot at the test level in 18 months’ time. India’s administration and selection aren’t known for forethought and vision. It might throw Indian cricket back a decade nullifying the efforts of a generation of committed players.

For now, the immediate goal of salvaging this Test should be its sole objective. There is enough happening during a Test to be worried about introspection. That can happen when the Test is done. For now, the mission would be to bat determinedly and put up a fight.

Though much of the last hour was a struggle for survival, it is apparent that the wicket has not played any tricks. Australia might have to work harder than earlier in the series to bowl India out this time around. Their quicks have been impressive and they would love to see Lyon give them some control from one end. Australia are still odds on favourites to win this in a canter, if anything, it is only a question of day 4 or day 5.


Prasad Moyarath

The MCG pitch was the best thing about this Test. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

Yet another Boxing Day Test debacle for India or another usual Indian start for an overseas tour. The Boxing Day Test match result can be interpreted by an Indian fan in either way but irrespective of the result, this Test match between India and Australia provided a great advertisement for Test cricket. Though this match lacked the usual intensity of an India – Australia duel and finished in four days, the entertainment it provided was worth for any Indian who woke up early morning in this chilling winter to watch it on television. The Test match which started on a cloudy day with a few rain interruptions on the first day proceeded in bright sunshine leaving a doubt whether the rain Gods were sitting and watching with awe.

Not a single century scored, only a single five wicket haul, what was that made this Test match so special? For those who did not follow this match, its scorecard won’t provide the right answer either.

Going into the Boxing Day Test match, concerns were many for both the teams. The career of Ponting and Hussey hung in balance and they were contemplating playing Christian in place of one of the two. Hilfenhaus was making a come back and Cowan making his debut. For India, the fitness of Zaheer and Ishant was the major concern and so was the ability of their batsmen to adapt to the Australian conditions.

Michael Clarke’s decision to bat first on a cloudy day though raised the eye brows of many, considering the poor batting record of India in Melbourne, was a daring one which was vindicated in the coming days. Warner gave an explosive start to the Australian innings but an incisive spell of fast bowling by Umesh Yadav helped India fight back. Ponting despite been hit on the helmet by Yadav at the start, made his critics eat their words with a fluent innings which was cut short by a Yadav’s beauty. Two dubious umpiring decisions against Cowan and Hussey ignited the debate on UDRS and BCCI once again. Ponting and Hussey proved that they are still good enough to play for Australia with some fine batting in the second innings. Australian tail wagged in both innings, thanks to some unimaginative captaincy from Dhoni. Hilfenhaus made a remarkable comeback was well supported by Pattinson and Siddle.

Sehwag played in his own style in both the innings and luck favoured him only in the first. Australian bowlers never looked like bowling in the right areas on the second day and Sehwag, Dravid and Sachin capitalised on it. Sachin was the only batsman who looked comfortable in both the innings. Dravid getting bowled in both the innings has put a question mark on the technique of this great player. Gambhir and Dhoni continued their poor run outside the subcontinent and Ashwin made Harbhajan’s absence inconspicuous. Indian pace attack put relentless pressure on the Australian batsmen and Ishant and Umesh clocking 140+kmph consistently was a delight to watch.

Three of the four days ended like a television serial leaving the viewers to ponder what next. Scores of both teams in each innings drew a slanting graph line putting a question mark on the quality of the pitch. But for those who watched this Test match on a drop in pitch, the curator was the Man of the Match ahead of the official choice.


  Bini Sathyan

If Australia had declared yesterday at end of play and put India to bat in the first session today, the match would have ended in 30 overs. It is a shame we could not bat out 50 overs. Except Sachin, no batsman in the Indian camp looked good. Sachin did not seem to have any major problems and looked very solid in both the innings. It really looks like his century could happen in Australia.

It was all too familiar when the Indian batting surrendered meekly to register their 5th straight away loss. Photo: Pat Scala.

Sehwag was his usual self – he lived and died by the sword. But the other opener, Gambhir seems to be a misfit in the Australian pitches. Either he is not learning from his mistakes or the Indian team coach is not interested in him. He got out in similar fashion to different bowlers in both the innings. Unless he can resist the temptation of sticking out the blade at an angle in the last moment to an away swinging ball, he might not get to play a long innings in this tour. Rahul Dravid did frustrate the bowlers to an extent but did not look comfortable during his stay in both innings. Kohli has got a taste of the Australian pitches, but he being a quick learner, we can expect more from him. Dhoni tried to attack but seemed out of sorts. He is yet to come good in such conditions.The sooner things improve in the batting department, the better for the Indian team.

The bowling that was considered India’s weakness looked promising with Zaheer leading the attack. Umesh and Ishant looked very good. They were just unlucky that they did not get more wickets. Ashwin promised a lot but was unable to deliver in the 2nd innings. He is turning out to be a an all rounder.

What experts considered as the inexperienced bowling attack of Australia easily got the better of the the most experienced batting line up in the world. They seemed to have done their homework very well and had a plan for every batsman. Though it did not work for Sachin, they easily got the better of him by using plan B which was to stop his flow by denying him the strike.

Siddle, Pattinson, Hilfenhaus all looked menacing. If India does not learn from the mistakes and improve, this bowling attack will push them further down the ranking ladder. Pontings determined comeback will only augur well for Australia in this series. Mr. Cricket, Hussey, as usual played his role to perfection. He led the fight back along with ponting. They have found a good anchor in Cowan who before the series was planning to watch the matches from the stands and instead got to watch it from the inside circle.

Warner is a destructive batsman like Sehwag and he almost got going in the 1st innings. But India was lucky that he tried to do too much. With Marsh and Clarke subdued by the Indian bowling, Australia was held back from a big score. But this was not enough to hold them back from winning the Boxing day test and take a 1-0 lead in the series. India’s hope lies in the fact that they have bounced back many times in the past from the initial shocks.


Goutham Chakravarthi

The rain had stopped and the MCG bathed in sunshine. There was no trace of moisture in the wicket, nor dramatic movement in the air or off the deck. And a champion batsman had managed to survive a hostile spell of quick bowling by a wholehearted local with grit and luck the previous evening. And a magician who once made an Australian Prime Minister jog from his home to the SCG to see him bat waited in the dressing room. All signs pointed to a day of hard toil for the home quicks. But, then, cricket writes it own script. And then, a swinger who was resigned to thinking that his playing days were over produced a swinger’s version of a perfect ten to send back a champion batsman.

It was a fine day for cricket. It has been a dramatic Test already. Fortunes have oscillated more than in a Federer-Nadal classic, and the less-than-perfect performance by both teams, both batsmen and bowlers, has meant that the result of the Test is still as hazy as future of world economy.

On a day dominated by fast bowlers, Umesh Yadav picked four wickets for India. ©Getty

The first session saw Australian quicks bowl much better than they did for most part yesterday. The consistency in their lengths and their discipline in line meant the pressure was constant on the batsmen. Like the heart of a good story lies in its plot, the wicket played its part in a remarkable day of bat versus ball. With tall and quick bowlers able to generate steep bounce off a good length, it kept them interested. Inevitably, Laxman perished after being kept scoreless for what seemed an eternity. Only the introduction of Lyon seemed to release some sort of pressure, but the quicks kept it tight and soon Kohli and Dhoni were out in familiar fashion. And soon the rest of the batsmen too. The heart and the effort shown by the young Australian quicks augurs well for the home side for the rest of the summer. However, their consistency will be a factor. India’s second innings holds answer to that.

It was always going to boil down to India’s (in)ability to take 20 wickets that was going to determine its fate in the series. That Australia has a dodgy batting record and prone to collapse would have raised optimism. And you needn’t be a cricketing sage to have figured out how crucial Zaheer Khan is to this attack. His mastery over his art is mesmerizing, but his presence at mid-on talking to Ishant and Umesh seems as important.

Zaheer’s opening spell had the inexperienced Australian top-order in check and Umesh Yadav reaped the benefits of Zaheer’s tight bowling at the other end. And Ishant produced a quick spell with pace and bounce that on another day would have tagged him a cluster of wickets. His 149.9 kmph off-cutter to knock over Clarke in a spell where he constantly was around and over the 150 kmph mark augurs well for India given the scare of his ankle injury coming into this Test. Zaheer came back to trigger another collapse to leave the Test wide open.

Two champions of the game, ironically both on the selectors’ radar for the chop, stepped up to the challenge and constructed an important partnership in the context of the game. The impressive Indian bowling unit went past the bat on numerous occasions, but the champions held strong, attacking at every opportunity. That none of their younger teammates crossed double digits makes the partnership that much more valuable. Should Australia go on to win this Test, this partnership would have played a pivotal part. And perhaps the dropped catch by Dravid late in the day. His catching in the slips to spinners has been abysmal this year.

May be the bowlers will hold the ace on day four as well. May be, we are in for another Australia-India classic. Laxman might be itching to put his stamp on another famous chase. Perhaps a Tendulkar masterpiece to on another Test involving Australia. Or may be, the two locals, Siddle and Pattinson will have the last laugh. Or, may be something else. In any case, it promises to be worth it to wake up at 5 am IST to catch the action.