One last chance for the Indian cricket team

Indians would be hoping for some miraculous turnaround to beat the Aussies at the SCG.Sydney ODIs Analysis

india Updated: Feb 08, 2004 02:36 IST

Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly will get one last chance to dent the Australian pride when they take on the World Champions in a do-or-die second final of the triangular series here on Sunday.

Failing to come good after a promising start to the ODI series almost a month back, the visitors would be hoping for some miraculous turnaround to beat the Aussies at the SCG.

But it would be an uphill task against a rampaging Australian side, who seemed to have over come the Test blues and have now beaten the visitors in four of the last five one-day matches.

Indian captain Sourav Ganguly, however, would not be looking beyond the eleven who did duty at Melbourne to turn the corner against Australia.

Ganguly will repose his trust in the same batsmen and bowlers who looked listless and flat in the first final in which the tourists were thrashed by seven wickets yesterday.

He would rather back those men who gave his team such a competitive streak through the summer than develop cold feet in this crucial match for the visitors.

India has a long line of worry in the batting front where but for VVS Laxman, the rest have largely blown hot-and-cold in the one-day series.

India's brightest days in the tri-series have been when Laxman was at crease. Otherwise, the rest have struggled to live up to their form in the stupendous Test series.

Both Tendulkar and Dravid scored their best-ever scores in the Tests but have just not got going in the limited overs format.

Ganguly, who set the tenor of the tour with one of the brightest hundreds at Gabba, has neither raised hopes nor runs on the board subsequently. Virender Sehwag too, in essence, has played only one innings of substance on the tour.

Yuvraj Singh smashed a hundred in Sydney which suffered neither in content nor quality against the world champions but has appeared listless since then.

Ironically, young Hemang Badani alone has shown the consistency of Laxman, scoring 100, 34 and 60 not out in three of his last four innings.

Badani is an elegant batsman who has learnt the art of building his innings even though his running between the wickets could induce a clutter of run-outs.

Badani was involved in two mix-ups in Perth and followed it up with two more at the MCG even though he was not always at fault. The only possible flaw in Badani's presence at the crease has been a few knocks on his helmets as the left-hander has gone against his instinct to essay pulls at short balls.

Ganguly wants his batsmen to show the hunger which made the rival bowlers lose their hopes before they marked out their run-ups.

Nobody in the Indian camp takes rival skipper Ricky Ponting's assertion seriously that Brett Lee and Jason Gillespie have been bowling a run-denying line and length to the Indian batsmen.

The visitors feel that if their batsmen can establish themselves at the crease, the Aussie bowlers would take a pasting.

The odds surely are weighed against the Indians. The hosts have sniffed blood and they are moving in for the kill. They are even willing to be patient as Matthew Hayden showed during his pain-staking innings yesterday.

The history also favours the Australians. The World Champions had not needed a third final to clinch the trophy in the triangular tournament for over a decade now.

The only exception was the 2001-02 series when they failed to make the finals, playing against New Zealand and South Africa.

Indians have not only to contest with the Australian batsmen but also the menace of Lee and Gillespie who seemed to have got the top order by the scruff of the neck. India's best hope is to see them off in the first spell with the least damage and consolidate from there on.

The visitors would also love their bowlers to do what Lee and Gillespie has started to manage.

Despite the promise of Laxmipathy Balaji and Irfan Pathan, Indians have not yet come to terms with the Australian batting. Ajit Agarkar has done much to earn praise in bowling but his off-days could still be terrible.

Ganguly feels irrespective of what happens in the finals, his team has done enough to earn respect in the world of cricket. There is no denying this truth but their supporters worldwide would not buy the lolly.

Teams (from):

India: Sourav Ganguly (captain), Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj Singh, Hemang Badani, Ajit Agarkar, Laxmipathy Balaji, Irfan Pathan, Anil Kumble, Murali Kartik, Ashish Nehra, Sanjay Bangar.

Australia: Ricky Ponting (captain), Matthew Hayden, Adam Gilchrist, Damien Martyn, Andrew Symonds, Simon Katich, Michael Clarke, Jason Gillespie, Brett Lee, Brad Williams, Ian Harvey, Brad Hogg and Michael Kasprowicz.

Umpires: Rudi Koertzen (SA) and Darryl Harper (Aus)

Third umpire: Simon Taufel (Aus)

Match referee: Clive Lloyd (WI).

First Published: Feb 07, 2004 15:23 IST