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Keeping the faith: Oz gain through Paine

cricket Updated: Oct 27, 2009 02:43 IST
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay
Hindustan Times
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There were whispers around the cricketing world, and maybe murmurs in Australia, when some of their giants bid adieu to the game one by one. There were huge voids to fill and it seemed as if the right alternatives were not in sight.

You can't find replacements for the likes of Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath or Adam Gilchrist because players like them arrive once in a few generations. But has their absence left Australia poor in terms of resources? As far as the team's performance in one-day cricket is concerned, the answer is certainly no.

Yes, Australia did lose the ODI series in South Africa earlier this year but the graph has been rising since. Not that only the old and experienced are doing the job, they have found new men in key positions and Tim Paine is one of them.

He has been steady and impressive after making ODI debut in August and continued the good work done in the Champions Trophy by helping Ricky Ponting consolidate the innings in Sunday’s first ODI in Vadodara after the early loss of Shane Watson.

“Tim's barely put a foot wrong after being put on top of the order. The way he played was outstanding…he handles the new ball and the spinners pretty well. His presence solves a lot of our problems," Ponting said of the 24-year-old.

Paine wasn’t exactly assured with deliveries outside off stump and saw a couple of edges off Praveen Kumar fly to safety early on. Once he settled down, however, he hardly looked a newcomer to Indian conditions.

The right-hander was wristy against Harbhajan Singh, who helped his cause by bowling an off-middle line. Paine kept pushing the ball softly into the gaps on the leg side. Although he was playing with the spin, the fact that he didn't play a single ball in the air showed that apart from skills, he also has a cool head. A fifty in his first innings in India wasn't a bad effort.

He swept Harbhajan on either side of the wicket too and made good use of his feet whenever the ball was tossed up - something not usually associated with Australian youngsters. With some neat work behind the stumps to go with that, Paine looks a good package. Don’t expect him to step into the shoes of Gilchrist, but here might be a handy keeper-batsman in the making, representing the new generation of Australian players.