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Undone on the backfoot, literally

cricket Updated: Feb 03, 2008 23:52 IST
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay
Hindustan Times
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If pushing India on the backfoot was what Australia had in mind, they wasted little time in doing that. Ricky Ponting had said before this match that his team had plans ready for every Indian batsman and it was evident soon after the start what the plan for the openers was.

The visitors were literally forced to move back from the first over with Brett Lee and Nathan Bracken pitching it just short of good length on or around off stump. It gave Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag almost no chance to come on to the front foot.

Lee was quick to get his act right, making the batsmen block from near the chest or leave it outside off. Bracken wasn’t as accurate to begin but didn't take long correct his line.

With Bracken not bowling full length to him, he perished trying to force the ball square on the off. Unable to drive or cut, it was the only way Sehwag could have kept the scoreboard moving and it also meant there was every chance of him getting the edge since he was playing away from the body. In his case, the ball ricocheted on to the stumps off the inside edge.

That the bowlers changed the length for Gambhir and invited him to play on the front foot and just outside off strengthened the belief that bowling a similar line off a different length was their ploy against the openers. Kept back consistently, Tendulkar got a surprise full one from Bracken in the fourth over and slow to come forward, he edged it past the slips.

Forced back again by Lee in the seventh over, he was a little unfortunate to see his back leg touch the stumps, but the length of that delivery was such that he couldn’t have played that delivery any differently.

The bowler didn't quite intend to get him out in that manner, but his plan was clear and he was consistent. The batsmen drove him just twice in his first spell of four overs.

Under the circumstances, Tendulkar and Sehwag are the biggest wickets for India’s oppositions and having realised that, Australia came out with a plan to first restrict them and then force them into mistakes. Executing this plan was equally important and on Sunday, Australia did it almost perfectly.