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Under the veneer, we are hurting

The quality of batsmanship exhibited by Rahul Dravid and V V S Laxman for the second time in four Tests between India and Australia has been truly extraordinary, writes Brett Lee.

india Updated: Dec 16, 2003 23:29 IST
Brett Lee

The quality of batsmanship exhibited by the Indian duo of Rahul Dravid and V V S Laxman for the second time in four Tests between India and Australia has been truly extraordinary. Both were able to recreate the magic of Kolkata at Adelaide, and magic it was, as they seemed to have some hold over the Australians from the minute they got together at 85 for four.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and I'm sure that our bowlers would feel that they could have done a couple of things differently against these two.
However, I think it was sublime batting rather than ordinary bowling that saw Dravid and Laxman put on 300-plus so quickly.

Gilly (Gillespie) bowled well right though the Test and was unlucky not to have got a couple of wickets more. It was a difficult ask for Williams who was playing only his second Test, having to bowl to two of the best batsmen in the world, when they were in prime form.

The selectors had picked the best team available for the conditions at Adelaide, and it is to India's credit that they outplayed their hosts in both departments of the game, that too after conceding 400 runs on the first day.

The Australian team is renowned for being deserving champions, but we are also gracious losers, and there is no shame in accepting defeat at the end of such a wonderful contest.

In my last article I had mentioned the value of maintaining a good length and not offering width on the Adelaide pitch. The only bowler who did that consistently in the latter half of the match was Ajit Agarkar, and he got good returns for his discipline.

The pitch did not deteriorate as dramatically as it normally does at this venue from late in the fourth day, so the Australians will be a little disappointed by their batting effort in the second inning. The Indians on the other hand looked resolute on the last day, but one felt for Gilly and Co as well, as this was no regular fifth day Adelaide wicket.

Perhaps the overcast conditions on the first day-and-a-half prevented the wicket from breaking up as much as it normally does.

It's not just the Australians on the field who seemed awestruck by the Indians. The media too is excited by India's performance, and they feel that this win will really spice things up from hereon. Make no mistake, beneath the veneer of graciousness, the hosts must really be hurting.

We all pride our near-perfect record at home, and falling behind in a Test series at home is something that has not happened to us in a long time. The gap between this Test and the Boxing Day Test will only add to the hurt and the hosts will come out firing on all cylinders at Melbourne.

We were all also keen to give our captain Steve Waugh a winning farewell, and all the guys will try their level best to ensure just that in the next two games. It is now upto India to defend their 1-0 lead in the series, but Australia is going to really make it hard for them.

I have also got back to cricket from Friday onwards, with a game against Victoria. I bowled with pretty pace in the first innings, and was pretty handy with the bat as well. It's been a good comeback, and my ankle has held out well. The only setback has been a stomach bug, but it is nothing too serious.

I have another three-day Pura Cup game before the two back-to-back Tests against India. If I am picked for all three, it will be four straight games in three weeks. I'm keen to get as much cricket behind me as possible, but it is upto the selectors to decide on whether or not I need another game before the third Test. The series is at half-way point, and things are beautifully poised right now.

This is just the intermission, and the climax at Melbourne and Sydney promises to be heart-stopping. The victory may hurt us in the team, but for the cricket follower, it certainly has set things up nicely.

First Published: Dec 16, 2003 22:53 IST