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India need to carry the hard edge to win crunch matches

India need to carry the hard edge which takes them over the finish line, writes Allan Border.

india Updated: Jan 10, 2004 14:24 IST
Allan Border (PTI)
Allan Border (PTI)

Cricket is about momentum and confidence which wins generate. Australians have started to roll and they would be that much more difficult for the opposition from now on. India have an excellent batting line-up and some promising youngsters but need to carry the hard edge which takes them over the finish line.

I suppose the day-night game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground had a bit of everything. Some excellent and some very poor cricket was witnessed from two teams who have come hard at each other throughout the summer.

I thought Indian catching was brilliant but their ground fielding was terrible. I wish anyone has an answer to this curious situation. Indians seemed so sure about their movement whenever the catch was hit in the air but when it came to stopping the ball cleanly and intercepting it, they were an eyesore.

Australians too must be upset at the way they went about their innings. Andrew Symonds and Michael Clarke were absolutely brilliant in reviving the innings but they committed the terrible crime of one-day cricket by not batting through the overs. If they had kept their head, a total in excess of 300 was a certainty. Still at the start of the day if Australia were given a total of 288, they would have taken it.

It is obvious Clarke is coming of age. He could be the next superstar of Australian cricket. He has established himself in one-day arena for sure and would be wanting to take the next obvious step and aim for Test cricket. His batting was outstanding, he plucked four catches and his ground fielding was sensational. He has been a vital cog in Australia's wheels lately, is a brilliant lad and one who inspires high hopes.

I guess from the Indian point of view the dismissal of Sourav Ganguly would be hard to digest. The Indian captain was in brilliant form under lights and just the way he paced his innings was fantastic. His run-out was terrible news for Indian chase.

It is generally accepted that if both the partners go quickly for the other end, the chances of a run-out are minimal. It only happens when there is hesitation. The new player must take the blame for he was unsure of his response or aware it was his captain who was key to his team's fortunes.

The way Sourav left the field must have been frightening for his partner. That he followed it soon after meant he still would have caught his captain in a foul mood.

With every wicket knocked down, the Indian dressing room would not have been quite the home for the young man who has just flown in from India.

Sourav had teased and dominated the Australian attack in turns and with Yuvraj Singh had forged a telling partnership. They knocked the ball around and sensibly hit the bad balls to pickets. Yuvraj then had a rush of blood and the next ball witnessed Ganguly's dismissal. Just two balls before, India were winning the game.

Their tail has not responded to situations. John Wright needs to sit down with the guys and tell them of their responsibility. They just needed to push the ball in the outfield and sensibly pick up runs. Instead, they went for aerial route which was not required. India's asking rate was only nine per over and it isn't too difficult on a big ground like MCG which is very hard to protect from the fielders' perspective.

It was a game India should have won.

Ajit Agarkar is infuriating as a batsman. As a bowler, he has been the find for India - if the expression could be used about a cricketer who has been around for five-six years. He has done just about everything right as a bowler but is an extreme opposite as a batsman.

The shot he played against Jason Gillespie to get out was terrible. You don't do this against a quality bowler and it is not sensible if one remembers Gillespie would not have bowled again in the match after the delivery.

The Indian tail completely lost the plot. I still believe they had chance only if they had picked gaps. Australians applied the pressure and Indians' tail did not respond.

First Published: Jan 10, 2004 14:24 IST