Chasing a total of over 300 on any ground is always tough. When you need to do it at Kochi, it becomes tougher.
But what were we doing chasing in the first place? We could have lost the toss and been asked to bowl first, but choosing to do so is akin to looking a gift horse in the mouth. Isn’t this the pitch where Sachin got a five-wicket haul with his slow turners? Doesn’t the pitch at Kochi always wear down? If the answer to both questions is yes, then we certainly made a mistake, especially given that the Indians took the field with two spinners.
I gather that the decision was made due to the presence of clouds and perhaps initially justified by the bagging of a couple of quick wickets. But from then on we lost the plot, partly due to poor bowling and partly due to some very good batting. This Australian team seems to be on a mission; the manner in which they counterattacked was great to watch.
What wasn’t great to watch were the totally unnecessary antics of Sreesanth. It was childish of him to appeal for a run out against Symonds. I think Dhoni has handled him well and I also feel it is a matter of time before Dhoni’s warning of him having to sit out a few games comes true. Sreesanth has to curb himself and uphold the spirit of the game.
Coming back to the match, we didn’t seem to have picked any lessons from the manner in which the Aussies recovered from tough positions, both at Bangalore and Kochi. Our batsmen too could have done the same for even though the Australian spinners got some turn from the pitch, they were never unplayable.
Still it is only one match lost as yet and there’s a lot of cricket to be played. I would suggest that the batting should be strengthened by leaving out Ramesh Powar. It will be tough on him following his splendid bowling in England, but as his landing problems showed in Bangalore, he seems to have hit a rough patch. We should depend on a strengthened batting line-up to come good and use Yuvraj, Sachin and Sourav (if he is fit) to fill in for the fifth bowler.
Incidentally, I was in Kochi on the day of the second ODI, having been invited to attend a function to celebrate 75 years of Indian Test cricket. I was asked about the high points of my career and I had no hesitation in saying that they were the series wins against the West Indies and England in 1971. It was an evening of wonderful memories.
Chivach Sports / Hawkeye Communications