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‘Says a lot about our character’

Apart from opening up a handy lead in a series reduced to a best-of-three affair after the first four games, Australia have also gained a few psychological points from Thursday's nerve tickler in Hyderabad. Atreyo Mukhopadhyay reports.

cricket Updated: Nov 07, 2009 02:02 IST
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay
Hindustan Times
‘Says a lot about our character’

Apart from opening up a handy lead in a series reduced to a best-of-three affair after the first four games, Australia have also gained a few psychological points from Thursday's nerve tickler in Hyderabad. All of it has got to do with confidence and for a side besieged by injuries on a tough tour, it couldn't have come at a better time.

Keeping the Indians at bay on pitches manufactured to suit batsmen only, the visitors not just batted big when it mattered but also ensured that with an attack missing key front-liners, they were up to the task, even when it meant denying the genius in Sachin Tendulkar an incredible immortality ode.

No wonder Ricky Ponting was counting positives after escaping to victory on Thursday despite posting 350, an intimidating target notwithstanding the nature of the pitch.

"Look, a win is a win, whichever way we get it," Ponting said. "The circumstances it came in say a lot about the character of this team and the individuals. Despite the conditions favouring batsmen heavily, we had a good second half with the ball in the way we pulled things back and it was good to get across the line."

Most winning captains would say similar things but in the context of the game it wasn't much short of a miracle. India needed 19 from three overs at one stage with four wickets standing and two of those overs formed part of the batting powerplay.

After being battered left, right and centre till then, the Australian bowlers and fielders had to get the act absolutely right and they did.

What satisfied Ponting most was the fact that he got contributions at key moments from players who had joined as replacements for the injured regulars. So there was praise for Shaun Marsh, who anchored the innings with a maiden ODI hundred, and Clint McKay. The medium-pacer came in for special accolades for plucking out three key wickets including Tendulkar's in a commendable debut outing.

Individuals drew applauds, but it was the basic ethic of teamwork and the determination to brave the odds which stood out. The chips were down and that's when the batsmen showed the need to apply themselves as was evident from the fact that they lost just four wickets and when it came to bowlers, they put their hands up when all seemed lost.

There was reason for Ponting to say “we will celebrate tonight before getting back to work”. The captain of a team which can take a host of adversities in its stride with a bunch of newcomers must be the most deserving man to utter such words even though the series isn't over. Whatever happens from the sixth match here onwards, Australia will have reason to smile for what they have done.