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Aussies have adapted well to conditions

The stage is set for a terrific match between India and Australia on November 1. Whoever wins that one, will establish quite a lead. And the way things are placed, the winning team would be difficult to stop from reaching the final. Australia got just the shot in the arm they needed in annihilating New Zealand.

india Updated: Oct 31, 2003 01:00 IST
Arun Lal

The stage is set for a terrific match between India and Australia on November 1. Whoever wins that one, will establish quite a lead. And the way things are placed, the winning team would be difficult to stop from reaching the final.

Australia got just the shot in the arm they needed in annihilating New Zealand, albeit with more than a little help from the wicket, and of course, the New Zealand captain.

It’s quite inexplicable to want to bat in a day game which starts at 9am, and that too, in North India. There is bound to be a lot of moisture due to sweating under the covers, which does not get time to evaporate as the morning haze blocks the sun’s intensity.

Everyone will tell you that most times it’s advisable to field first as the wicket eases considerably by the afternoon. Unless it is obviously underprepared and dry, rarely does a wicket crack or break up in a one-day game.

To compound matters, the presence of grass in patches made the wicket unpredictable in pace and bounce. Moreover, the wicket at Faridabad had more than the acceptable level of moisture and surprised both the captains and proved to be a disaster for the Kiwis.

One-day game needs wickets that behave more or less the same for the duration of 100 overs, except for some early morning assistance during the first half hour or so. Nobody likes a match to be decided by the toss — moreso, if it ends in half a day — and least of all the paying public.

Not to mention the TV companies who are at their wits end trying to get their commercials through. There is too much at stake. It is, therefore, imperative for the Board’s pitch committee to oversee the preparation of the wicket. Especially in the North, when the weather is changing and its not easy to gauge the amount of water to put on the pitch while preparing it.

On his part, Ponting is heaving a sigh of relief, as he could well have been in Fleming’s shoes and in deep trouble. That’s how thin the line can be between being a champion and the conquered. This is international sport at its best.

Australia have suddenly found the form and rhythm that they were lacking in India. What makes them the champion side that they are, is the fact that they reassess and adapt almost instantaneously.

Their bowling, striving for pace and bounce in Gwalior, was all over the place. In Faridabad, it was based on a fuller line and length at the expense of pace, which reaped rich dividends. The other aspect of their game is their body language and they feed of each other’s success and positivity. Finally, the stand-out feature was their fielding.

It’s almost guaranteed that anything played in the air, even remotely close to a fielder, would be pouched. It is these features that other teams have to strive to emulate if they want to rival their professionalism.

Ponting would now be focusing on how to chase under lights against the Indian spinners.

First Published: Oct 31, 2003 00:38 IST