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Series in pocket, Aussies say cheese...

Hosts India pay the price for dropped catches & warped strategy against Australia, writes Akshay Sawai.

cricket Updated: Oct 15, 2007 12:59 IST
Akshay Sawai
Akshay Sawai
Hindustan Times

Person at the counter: Mr Sreesanth, Mr Rahul Dravid, will you pay by cash or credit card?

Sreesanth and Dravid: What?

Person at the counter: Let me explain. Mr Sreesanth, you dropped Andrew Symonds when he was on two. Mr Dravid, you dropped Adam Gilchrist when he was on 16. Symonds made 107 not out. Gilchrist made 51. The two of them, as you can see, scored 132 runs after being dropped. Now you got to pay up — 140 runs. So, cash or credit card?

Dravid and Sreesanth are thinking about it. In the meantime, India have paid the price. The Future Cup is gone. The 18-run win here on Sunday gave Australia a winning 4-1 lead. The last match in Mumbai on Wednesday is just a dumb stat now.

Symonds' predatory innings (88b, 9x4, 4x6), a foot-tapping half-century from Gilchrist and captain Ricky Ponting's 49 helped Australia post 317 for eight in 50 overs. It was their third total over 300 so far. Winning was always going to be difficult for India, though an opening stand of 140 between Sourav Ganguly (86) and Sachin Tendulkar (72) raised hopes.

Robin Uthappa's 28-ball 44 and his 72-run partnership with captain Dhoni for the sixth wicket kicked some life into the final stage. But Australia had a few runs too many on the board. Left-arm spinner Brad Hogg starred with the ball, taking four wickets for less than five runs an over. Man of the Match Symonds bowled a tight 10 overs in addition to his century.

Points to ponder

The defeat will be tough to take for India. The team's brain cell will need to analyse some of the moves they made on Sunday.

One, the dropped catches were unpardonable. Two, should more established batsmen have come in at No 3 instead of Irfan Pathan, even though he did his bit with a 29-ball 29? Shouldn't the middle-order have capitalised on the start? The expensive efforts of the bowlers, especially Sreesanth, would also be a reason for worry.

Catches lose matches

Racially abused in Vadodara, Symonds made a statement on Sunday with his century. He celebrated the achievement with the abandon of Zorba, jumping, pumping arms and acknowledging the dressing room with a raised bat. What was good to see was the Indian spectators as well as the players applauding him.

Sreesanth and Symonds have been in several one-on-one situations so far. On Sunday they found themselves in another. Symonds was on two when he swept Harbhajan Singh uppishly towards long leg. Sreesanth ran in from the boundary but floored it. It was the turning point. Earlier, Dravid's series of disaster continued when he failed to latch on to a chance Gilchrist offered at gully off Sreesanth's bowling.

Sachin-Sourav effort in vain

But, for about a half of the Indian innings, it seemed the task was not beyond reach. A mix of patriotic and dance songs played during every break in play. Ganguly and Tendulkar rewarded with their magic, honed in the maidans of Mumbai and Kolkata. Ganguly more than did his duty, but India could not keep up.

First Published: Oct 14, 2007 14:11 IST