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Hosts & the darkness

The India-Australia ODI series ended with the final match here being washed out without a ball being bowled but there remain a few things which will be remembered, reports Atreyo Mukhopadhyay.

cricket Updated: Nov 11, 2009 23:36 IST
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay

The India-Australia ODI series ended with the final match here being washed out without a ball being bowled but there remain a few things which will be remembered. Be it from an Indian point of view or that of the visitors, there were certain salient features which played a big part in how things unfolded. Here we go.

After the standout success of the Indian medium-pacers against more or less the same opposition last year in the four-Test series, it was expected that the speedsters would stand up to be counted again. It didn't happen. Not only did they concede runs, they also failed to take wickets.

The Indian spinners didn't fare any better. The team needed them to take wickets and despite returning handy economy rates, their strike rate wasn't up to scratch.

That turned out to be a big difference in the end because this was supposed to be an area where India were expected to be ahead of their rivals.

Australians were far more effective when it came to tightening things up whenever the situation demanded. Each time it looked India were going to break free, the brakes were put. India's failure in clinching the close ones turned out to be crucial in the end.

Sachin Tendulkar was in command chasing 350 in the fourth ODI. He didn't have to go for the boundary-scoring shot when he did because Ravindra Jadeja was getting runs from the other end. His failed attempt proved crucial to India's fortunes.

Not much was expected of the Australian middle-order. There were a few vulnerable spots, batsmen suspect against Indian spinners in such conditions. The top five came good invariably on most occasions to prevent the lesser ones from being exposed. That made a huge difference.

One-day cricket is largely about batting and Australia unquestionably put up a better show on this count. Even without Michael Clarke and an in-form Tim Paine, the experienced four in the top five scored consistently unlike the Indians and this was a major difference between the teams.

Fielding was another decisive factor. In the fifth match in Hyderabad, India dropped Shaun Marsh twice before he went on to notch up a century. Against a team with potentially weaker players coming down the order, these chances had to be taken. Failure in doing so proved to be decisive in the end.

For India to succeed at home, Virender Sewhag and Yuvraj Singh were the guns expected to fire. As it turned out, Sehwag seemed confined to the T20 mode and Yuvraj came good just once in five matches. It invariably was too much of a handicap for the team and it showed.

India were never up to the task when it came to seizing key moments either. Neither could they build partnerships when needed nor were they successful when it came to breaking them.

In a long series like this success often hinges on one outstanding incident, a moment of truth in other words. While India kept missing it, Australia found theirs. In the fourth game in Mohali defending a modest 250, Ricky Ponting ran out Yuvraj with a direct hit to derail the chase, and virtually the Indian campaign for the rest of the series.

Series Stars

Top run-getters

Mike Hussey: 313 runs at 104.44 in 6 matches (3 fifties)

For India

MS Dhoni: 285 runs at 57.00 in 6 matches (1 hundred & 1 fifty)

Top wicket-takers

Shane Watson: 10 wkts at 22.00 in 6 matches (3/29 best)

For India:

Harbhajan Singh: 8 wkts at 33.87 in 6 matches (2/23 best)

Highest individual score

175: S. Tendulkar in Hyderabad

Best bowling figures

5/35, S. Bollinger in Guwahati

Man of the series:

Watson : 256 runs at 42.66 and 10 wkts at 22.00