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HindustanTimes Sun,21 Sep 2014

Cricket Columns

Despite injuries, India haven’t missed a beat
Ian Chappell
March 21, 2013
First Published: 23:57 IST(21/3/2013)
Last Updated: 02:54 IST(22/3/2013)

This Indian series has been a two-B tour for the Australia team — bad and bizarre.

The bad has been on the field with three consecutive Test losses, all of them comprehensive. The bizarre has been off the field where selections have often smacked of panic.

Four players were suspended for ill discipline, one of them being the vice-captain, who then flew home for the birth of his first child and returned a week later as a potential captain in the final Test.

That might be a perfect script for a soap opera but it's not a recipe for success on the cricket field.

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In addition to all the bizarre occurrences off the field, the Australians have only played intermittently good cricket and India have been spectacular at crucial times.

If four Australians were punished for not completing their homework, then the Indians should get a high distinction for their after hours diligence.

Right assessment
They assessed the Australians perfectly; very strong in pace bowling, poor players of quality spin bowling and only average purveyors of the slow stuff.

Consequently, the pitches have suited spinners and the Australians’ play has been predictably below par. Every time they’ve looked like building some momentum, the Indians have prised a couple out with spin and this has generally led to a collapse.

Whenever India have felt the need to flex their muscles, it’s been the hapless spinners who have suffered at the hands of their fleet-footed batsmen.

It’s hard to see how things are going to change in Delhi, despite claims from the Australian team that, following the suspensions, the side is more united.

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The Delhi pitch will suit spinners as much as Chennai and the Australians are in danger of being without their most proficient player of slow bowling and their best batsman, who also happens to be the captain.

Added task
Ironically, captaincy may just be the extra responsibility that Shane Watson needs to bring out the best in his batting.

In a perfect world, the batting order would be left to the captain (as it should be) and it would be fascinating to see Watson’s preference if he is in charge.

Nevertheless, there’s more chance of peace in the Middle East than finding Watson at the top of the order.

India could care less about Australia’s trials and tribulations. They didn’t receive any sympathy from their opponents when they were going down like a submerging submarine in their last tour of Australia. In Mohali, there were no signs of a let up from India.

India have suffered injuries and failures that have caused changes in personnel but they haven’t missed a beat.

It’s been good for Indian cricket that some young batsmen have received a chance and this selection panel deserves a lot more credit for that than their predecessors.


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