For a team with a hattrick of World Cup titles and back-to-back triumphs in the Champions Trophy, winning a bilateral series shouldn’t mean much. It’s just a win against a country after having conquered the whole world. But Australia are bound to treat their success in this seven-match series from a different point of view.
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that this was the Australia A team with a few senior players. They were without at least five regulars and several of the first-choice replacements were also not available. Not many teams would have even thought of beating India in conditions they thrive in with so many handicaps. “It’s up there with some of our special wins,” said Ricky Ponting.
Adversities bring the best out of champions. Going by words then, the outcome of the series doesn’t defy logic because Australia are the world champions and there is no doubt that they were battling against the odds in terms of resources.
That is where the similarities between sayings and what happens in reality end and the story of struggle begins. Sure Australia had made a few good plans, like getting the naturally aggressive Shane Watson to be calm early on, using Cameron White as sledge-hammer at No. 4 instead of playing him as a builder and using the unheralded Doug Bollinger with telling effect. But the execution of these plans needed some doggedness.
To get the job done, especially while batting against the spinners, the experienced ones had to shoulder extra responsibility. A look at the scorecard shows how consistently Watson, Ponting, White and Hussey delivered and how adroitly they shielded the vulnerable slots in the batting order.
The job of the bowlers at times was made easier by the indiscretion of the Indian batsmen. Even then, they had to get used to pitches, which don’t offer as much bounce and carry that they get back home without compromising on the basics of length and direction.
Assisted ably by the fielders, the bowlers were up to the task, defending 250 in Mohali being a standout performance apart from the Sunday special.
The flights between India and Australia were, of late, frequented by injured Aussies returning home and replacements flying in. Apart from the team, the plane leaving Mumbai for Australia in the early hours of Thursday will have a trophy that is certain to be treasured by Cricket Australia for the way it was won.