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Aussie supremacy under threat from India

I don't remember Australia being put under the pump and beaten at their own game in a Test by anyone barring the West Indies, writes Ravi Shastri.

cricket Updated: Oct 21, 2008 01:27 IST

I don't remember Australia being put under the pump and beaten at their own game in a Test by anyone barring the West Indies of the 1980s. The pace bowling has been a disappointment and problems with the spin department have resurfaced.

Particularly annoying for the world champions would be the inability to stick to their game plan. They wanted India's scoring reduced to a trickle but that didn't happen. The Indians reached 314 for 3 from 65 overs at nearly five runs an over. The Aussies were also unable to show patience, which has been their avowed aim on this trip. Frankly, Ricky Ponting's men have never witnessed such a collective failure ever.

Consequently, India could win by more than a 280-run margin. Australia could lose only their second match in over three years-the only one after the Ashes loss of 2005, also coming against India in Perth. Not only have India emerged their fiercest opponents on the field, they are also beginning to close the gap between the world champions and them.

One doesn't remember any international captain of having a year as spectacular as Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Everything he has touched has turned to gold: Each badge on his chest is bigger and shinier. The youth brigade under his wings has caught the nation's imagination. Another one has done so in this Test, albeit in fortuitous circumstances.

Amit Mishra was a leg-spinner forgotten to the nation before Anil Kumble's misfortune opened the doors of his salvation. He ticked all the boxes in his very first bowl in international arena: be it variety, accuracy or a very big heart, which has got to be a spinner's calling card.

I have seen rare talents fall by the wayside as bouts of panic grips them once an attack is carried out to them. A spinner ought to be prepared to lose everything in order to win big and Mishra knows the rule by the heart.

It was also such a joy to hear Dhoni encourage him all the time to flight his deliveries. A young spinner, or any spinner, values nothing more than his captain standing by his side.