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There are still few creases to iron out
Arun Lal, PTI
December 18, 2003
First Published: 01:19 IST(18/12/2003)
Last Updated: 01:19 IST(18/12/2003)

It's the day after. Once the dust settles and the euphoric celebrations are allowed to run their course, there must be a time for assessment and to take stock of the situation. No doubt, it is one of the great days in India's cricket history but there is still a lot of cricket to be played in this series. For this victory to live in memory, India have to win this series.

The Aussies must be kicking themselves for underestimating this Indian side and they suddenly have a lot of work to do in many areas.

They will definitely try to hurry up Lee, but it may not be the most prudent thing to get pressurised and hurry him up before they are ready.

The team composition may also have to be examined closely. With Gilchrist being such an asset, they may consider going in with five bowlers. Especially if a couple of the bowlers' fitness is in question.

They probably will have to rethink their strategy of attacking from the start when they are batting. More so, if they go in with five bowlers.

Although this has worked for them in the past, getting their runs so quickly also gives the opposition the opportunity to win the game and is also fraught with danger as they can be out cheaply as in the second innings.

The Aussies pride has been hurt and they will come at us with everything that they have. I am reminded of a story of a man sitting on top of another, beating him up badly and crying at the same time. When asked as to why he was crying, he said, "As soon as I let him go, he will get up and beat the hell out of me.” The moral of the story is, never allow him to recover.

Consequently, India must retain the winning habit. I am a firm believer of momentum in sport and the momentum is clearly in India's favour. The self-belief, focus, upbeat feeling, taking incredible catches, all point towards a momentum which has to be maintained at all costs.

It's so easy to get carried away - not necessarily get complacent but relax just enough to allow the opposition a foothold. It’s important to stay focused and make sure they play the match versus Australia A at Hobart from Dec 19 with the same resolve and desire.

They will also have to assess the composition of the side. Definitely in Sydney, and to an extent in Melbourne, there is some help for the spinners. Every side has to assess its relative strengths.

Is it wise to keep an in-form Murali Kartik out of the playing XI? Just because there is pace and bounce doesn't mean that pace bowlers have to play. The best bowlers must play. Australia have always relied on their strength and have played fast bowlers on the slow turning tracks of India.

The opening combination needs to be looked at. They are getting set and losing their wickets far too often. It’s imperative to concentrate hard, as no team can afford to have batsmen throw their wickets away after getting set.

Ability and commitment are not under question but somewhere focus and determination are flagging. The next game is another opportunity to iron out these difficulties.

The wicket-keeping is a matter of concern. While Patel has made runs, he too is suffering from the concentration syndrome and is getting up too early. It's important that the fielders around the bat keep him focused.

Agarkar and Laxman are the two players who have rediscovered themselves and are the ones who are providing the decisive edge to this team. Sachin is struggling to maintain his high standard but will be happy for the time he spent at the crease in the second innings.

The Australians over the years are geared to playing just one way and that is attacking cricket. While that makes interesting viewing it can come under severe pressure at times like this.

I believe that it may not be possible for them to activate a Plan B. This is where the Indians should score over them.


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