Do-or-die battle for India at Chandigarh
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Do-or-die battle for India at Chandigarh

The time is now; India must beat Australia in today's ODI to keep the series alive, writes Subhash Rajta.

cricket Updated: Oct 08, 2007 04:01 IST
Subhash Rajta
Subhash Rajta
Hindustan Times

Both India and Australia have problems to contend with. The Australians have a problem of plenty, and the Indians apparently have problems in plenty.

While the Australians juggernaut is in cruise mode, India, on the other hand, are struggling to get their act together be it in batting or bowling; of the fielding, it is better to maintain a diplomatic silence or just say that perhaps it is not as bad as what one was forced to watch in England.

But add to this the criticism some Indians have faced for uncontrolled “rash and aggressive” behaviour on field, behaviour not backed up by performance (unlike the Aussies who have made aggression a performing art) and the (idle) chitchat about seniors not pulling their weight, and the scenario becomes bleaker.

Clearly, the odds are heavily stacked against India as they head into this crucial fourth ODI of the series. They will need to put in a massive effort if they have to stop the Aussies from taking an unassailable lead midway through the series, which if it happens will reflect poorly on a team that is still basking in the glory of the Twenty20 triumph.

The only ray of hope in this dismal scenario might be the assertion by Robin Uthappa he turned up for skipper MS Dhoni in the press briefings -that the team retained its optimism even after losing two matches rather easily. “We have had two tough matches, but the team is pretty positive and hopeful to turning it around,” he said. So, there is always hope and the belief that India might as well throw everything they’ve got at the Aussies, they’re staring at a whitewash in any case.

Uthappa, of the new breed of young India dashers, also showed that he (like his young team-mates) was not in the least bit discomfited (confidence-wise at least) as he asserted that India were not a lesser side than their opponents. “Actually, the somewhat below par showings so far are a combined effect of fatigue and the lack of time we have had to adapt to this form of game again. Most of us are still in the Twenty20 mode and it would have taken us some time to get out of it,” he said, adding that they were gradually coming to terms with it.

Well, good for them but they would really have to do it sooner than later, for there are several areas that need brushing up and even if they somehow manage to pull off what will undoubtedly be a surprise win here, they will be trying to claw back into the series for the remainder of the Future Cup.

The openers have not fired so far, the middle order too hasn’t been able to make up for the failure at the top, the seamers have failed to control the Aussie onslaught towards the end even when they have picked up a couple of early wickets, and the spinners have looked completely ineffective in the middle overs. So, yes, there’s a bit of work to be done!

Uthappa agreed and added a rider. “Yes, there are problems, but we are not overly concerned. I think the batsmen need to take more responsibility and our bowling coach is anyways working with the bowlers,” he said, also hinting that India might come out with two spinners. “The wicket looks good, should be a high scoring game,” he added.

Uthappa, incidentally, also laughed away the talk of pressure on the seniors and its possible effect on what goes on in the dressing room. “It’s a media creation, there is nothing like it (uncomfortable vibes) in the dressing room,” he said. “Everyone is pretty relaxed and enjoying themselves.”

As for the Aussies, they looked as confident and composed as ever. “We have been playing positive and aggressive cricket and we will just continue with that,” said Ponting.
Frankly, India better beware!

First Published: Oct 08, 2007 02:14 IST