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HindustanTimes Mon,22 Dec 2014

Cricket Columns

Rising youngsters reinforcing India’s progress
Ian Chappell
March 19, 2013
First Published: 00:03 IST(19/3/2013)
Last Updated: 02:17 IST(19/3/2013)
Murli Vijay congratulates Shikhar Dhawan for his performance after the end of third day's play of the 3rd Test match against Australia in Mohali. (PTI)

Not only is the Border-Gavaskar Trophy safely back in India’s hands but the hosts also have a wonderful opportunity to exact full revenge for the hammering they received in Australia two seasons ago.

This was the least convincing of India’s three successive wins in the series, coming with just 15 balls to spare, but the fact that it was still a six-wicket drubbing shows just how superior the home side has been in this lopsided contest.

However, the Australians can take some satisfaction from making the Indians fight to the finish. This was one of those losses where the defeated side could walk off with their head held high, but it was mainly thanks to their lion-hearted fast bowlers.

Despite those efforts, Australia still managed to lose a game that was shortened by rain.

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Their batting is a major concern with more than 20% of the runs contributed by the number nine batsman, and the fast bowlers far outshining the spinners on an exceedingly dry pitch. For each positive, Australia follow with three negatives to keep the scales tipped well in India’s favour.

The positives
On India’s part, not only have their positives been mostly produced by the younger brigade, with Shikhar Dhawan being the latest to shine brightly, but their rising stars are also reinforcing their progress.

This time it was Murali Vijay, who constructed back-to-back Test centuries. It’s almost as though India are rubbing it in by saying to the Australians: “We have a long production line of skilful young batsmen and you don’t.”

With Murali, Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli, India are now well placed to have yet another era of four world-class willow wielders.

While India’s spinners, with some valuable contributions from their seamers, have been able to keep the Australian batsmen pinned down, it’s been the ability of their young willow wielders to amass huge partnerships that has sapped the opposition’s spirit at crucial times in the contest.

Knowing they’ll have ample runs to work with helps add to the bowlers’ confidence and allows them to remain patient in a land where this is a cricketer’s most vital ally.

Cool customer
Fittingly, Dhoni was there to orchestrate the winning moment but if he felt this was vindication following the drubbing in Australia, he kept it to himself.

He really is a cool customer and there are few better front-runners than Dhoni when the skipper has the upper hand.

Despite the loss and a sore back, Michael Clarke deserves credit for trying to save the match by attacking India rather than resorting to any negative or dubious tactics. This added to what was a thrilling finish and an absorbing game.

With India in-charge of the trophy again, all Australia can hope for in Delhi is a repeat of the fight they showed in the last hour of the game coming earlier in the contest.

If they achieve that, and any positives they produce aren’t negated by a string of failures, then the tour won’t have been a complete disaster.


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