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Loss hurts, but don’t berate the team

Nobody in India is celebrating their team has run the world champions close, writes Ravi Shastri.

india Updated: Oct 16, 2007 01:09 IST

Nobody in India is celebrating their team has run the world champions close. A 318-run target against Australia always demands something extraordinary. Openers Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly were up to it, and so were Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Robin Uthappa in the final stretch, but a flash of brilliance was missing in the middle overs.

You need a blinder from one of your bats to subdue them. The pitch may not swing or offer seam movement, the pace might not be a factor but Australia give nothing away in the field. They regroup and regroup till they stub life out of their rivals' innings.

A couple of issues are glaring. The series is about to end but the Indians haven't yet sorted out Brad Hogg. He took four wickets, and given the state of the match, he was the difference in India's stumble at the altar of victory.

Andrew Symonds was the preferred choice because he not only played an extraordinary innings, he also backed it up with a stupendous performance with the ball. On hindsight, it was in the middle overs of the two innings that India lost the match.

India had Australia on the racks at 129 for four and then lost the grip through Symonds' brilliance. His stands with Haddin and James Hopes gave Australia the total they wanted.

When it was India's turn, the acceleration never arrived in the middle overs. It would be debated endlessly if the team was better served by sending Uthappa, Dhoni or Yuvraj Singh ahead of Rahul Dravid with the score on 189 for two, especially with Ganguly at the other end. Rahul has not had runs under his belt in the last couple of innings and it needed the exuberance of youth to have a go from the outset.

India must rue their lack of mobility in the field. On the other hand, they were guilty of avoiding hard running. We were neither good in the field nor alert between the wickets. Still, this Indian side has the making of a good team. Before slamming Dhoni's men, one must remember that the Indians are in the process of forming a crack one-day unit. Australia, on the other hand, are already a well-oiled machine.

Almost at will, they can call upon a new name to come and deliver. Just when you have covered a flank, another one is prised open at some other corner. So lament the loss of series but don't berate your team. There is no shame in losing to Australia provided the lessons are learnt well.


First Published: Oct 16, 2007 01:07 IST