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Spot-on Oz signal ominous times

cricket Updated: Feb 02, 2008 04:06 IST
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay
Hindustan Times
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If the Australians wanted to make a statement, they couldn't have made a louder one. To see them turn out in shirts with nicknames on the back, one might have thought they were perhaps taking it a little easy since it was just a Twenty20 game.

That thought was dismissed in the first over when Michael 'Pup' Clarke flung himself at point to stop a sweetly-timed jab by Virender Sehwag and and then threw down the stumps at the non-striker's end to effect a spectacular run out.

The acting captain's flow of adrenaline made it clear just how fired up the Australians were and how keen they will be when they lock horns against India and Sri Lanka in the tri-series.

Clarke said after the match that the events of the last few weeks had nothing to do with their performance on Friday and that they were merely trying to do their best. What was on view suggested there was nothing 'mere' about it.

The way the team fielded - catching everything that came their way including a brilliant diving effort by Clarke again that sent back Harbhajan Singh - bowled and batted was a warning for the rivals.

The way the fielders positioned themselves, getting behind or under the ball, showed how eager and focussed they were. They came charging in, making a batsman quiver in doubt whether to leave the crease. It was high-intensity stuff that remained the same even when the task had become easier.

Brett 'Binga' Lee was hurling the ball as fast as he could and the one with which he got Dinesh Kartik was probably the quickest he has fired this season. It was a full toss all right, but facing it at 155 kph, the batsman saw it crash on to the stumps well before he could bring his bat down.

"We spent a lot of time on our home work. We studied how their batsmen play in T20 and our preparation was spot-on. Our execution of plans was perfect and what you saw today was perhaps the first step in our endeavour to be the best T20 team in the world," Clarke said.

But did his team do everything keeping T20 in mind? "Oh no. This win will give the momentum we were looking for ahead of the one-day series and lots of confidence. Full credit to the bowlers, the batters today had an easy job," Their task might have been easy, but the ferocity of the drives and cuts showed the batsmen were hardly taking it easy.

The Indians are out to fight fire with fire. At least, that is what this ODI team has been saying in recent times. If Friday was any indication, this young and ambitious bunch must get ready to face what they are saying.