Oz will come firing at Indians

After knocking out England on Diwali night and earning an early Ashes advantage, Oz train guns on the hosts, writes C Shekhar Luthra.

india Updated: Oct 23, 2006 23:02 IST

Having dealt England a Diwali knockout and earning an early Ashes advantage, Australia have the Indians in the crosshairs — and their captain Ricky Ponting has assured that his band of braves will not let the intensity flag.

Ponting has said his team would play India with the "nothing-to-lose" attitude they had in their win over England. "Against England, it was a knockout game and it will be the same against India," Ponting said. "I'm happy with the brand of cricket we played. We expect to display the same intensity and skills against the Indians."

Australia were, in fact, under pressure coming to Jaipur, having been ambushed by the West Indies, the defending champions, in Mumbai; a defeat to England at Jaipur would have ruined their hopes. They needed to summon something special, and that their bowlers did by shooting England down for 169.

Australia thus earned their first points of the event, which they have never won.

"It was a great performance. We did not have a great start (when batting) after the kind of bowling performance we had. But it was a comfortable win in the end," Ponting said. "We went in with a nothingto-lose sort of attitude and it paid off for us. It was a resounding victory ."

It was, but England did have their chance, twice over. A big one right at the start when Andrew Strauss and Ian Bell put on 83 runs for the first wicket, and the second when Sajid Mahmood and James Anderson reduced Australia to 34-3.

But neither chance was taken — the batsmen who followed Strauss and Bell collapsed one after the other; with the ball too, they failed to choke Australia as Damien Martyn - celebrating his 35th birthday etched a match-winning 78, an innings that earned Ponting's approbation. "In my eyes, he has not been under any pressure," Ponting said. "He is a vital player for us coming in at number four and he showed how good he is, how to win matches."

Ponting said Mike Hussey who added , 118 runs with Martyn for the fourth wicket, had given the team a lot of flexibility .

"Chasing a small total was perfectly suited to him and he played the way it was required of him," he said. "He sums up the situation pretty well. With Martyn and Andrew Symonds going with him, it gives us a lot of flexibility."

For England, the partnership spelt trouble: Martyn was in sublime form in this, his 205th game, showing just why despite , the hiccups of the recent past, he is rated as highly as he is by the Aussie selectors.

What was also quite exhilarating to watch was how, in the midst of all this talk about youth and a pack of young, aggressive Turks making their presence felt at the top of the international ladder, here was one more 30-something player showing that even if cricketing life doesn't quite begin at 30, it definitely does end not at that mark. England, actually had not , done too badly when they started the defence of their 169, despite being mauled early on by Australian openers Adam Gilchrist and Shane Watson, who had the board reading 30 after only 3.5 overs.

And then darkness struck - one of the four light poles on the northern side failed. That 10-minute delay seemed to inject fresh life into England pacemen Anderson and Mahmood.

The first ball after the unscheduled delay an incoming delivery from Mahmood, , uprooted Gilchrist's off-stump as he tried to play across the line to the mid-wicket region. In his next over, Mahmood had Ponting edging an outgoing delivery to slips, where Strauss held on to a smart catch. The huddle was back and the exodus of spectators — leaving for the Diwali puja — was halted in anticipation of some drama. They got a bit, as Anderson castled Watson — Australia losing three wickets for just four runs.

But then, Australia are not world champions for no reason. Hussey and Martyn stepped in to fill the breach and that was that for England. Ponting said Australia would try to use short ball more often in the future to unsettle batsmen.

"It's amazing how many wickets Shane Watson gets with his bouncers," Ponting said. "I think the bouncer is under-utilised in one-day cricket. But it is not so much the bouncer itself but what delivery you follow that up with is what matters."

Australia themselves, as a team, have a hard act to follow after Jaipur — but if anyone can do it, it's the men in yellow. India had better watch out.

First Published: Oct 23, 2006 14:42 IST