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Australia outdone by a superior side

Aakash Chopra | 10:23 UK time, Wednesday, 12 November 2008

India did the unthinkable by beating Australia 2-0 and regaining the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. Very few people gave India a chance of beating Australia but India not only defeated them, they did it in convincing style. India outplayed the best team in the world in every department.
 
The Indian batting shone in almost every innings and made the Australian attack look toothless. The openers set the tone in almost every game and the middle-order barring Rahul Dravid built on that. Dravid's form is perhaps the only area of concern for the Indians but he's too good a player to be short of runs for too long.
 
The Australian bowling-attack never looked like taking 20 wickets in a match, which is obviously a minimum requirement to win a Test. They managed to bowl India out twice only once in four Tests which underlines their ineffectiveness.

Despite the lack of a quality spinner in their ranks everyone expected a more spirited or perhaps more strategic approach from Australia. They're known to have plans for every player and every situation but they seemed quite clueless on more than a few occasions on this tour. 
 
The Indians, meanwhile, not only seemed to have their plans ready but they also executed them to perfection. Whether it was a different line of attack in Mohali from the fast bowlers or a slightly negative line of attack in the last Test to dry up the runs, India managed to change gears almost at will and with that the momentum on various occasions.
 
The Indian bowling asked more questions than the Australians had answers for. The Australians must've been prepared to play a lot of spin as the Indians are traditionally known to bank on their spinners to do most of the damage, but the quality of fast bowling India displayed surprised Australia.
 
India have a top-quality new-ball attack at their disposal in Ishant and Zaheer. While Zaheer is a seasoned campaigner and swung both the new and the old ball appreciably, Ishant bowled with a lot of vigor and aggression. Both managed to get the ball to reverse swing and laid bare the Australian batsmen's weakness to handle it successfully. It reminded me of the famous Ashes series in 2005 in which the English bowlers too exploited this very weakness in the Aussie batting line-up to produce a remarkable series win.

India's Ishant Sharma
 
This series was also the last one for both Kumble and Sourav who retired from Test cricket after it. It seems to be the end of an era in Indian cricket: an era in which India graduated from a tough team to beat at home to an almost invincible team in home conditions. India started winning more games while touring overseas as well.
 
The good thing is that they've left the team in able hands and the future looks promising. Please don't get me wrong, they will surely be missed because it's tough to fill the shoes of such icons but the team seems to be moving along in the right direction. 
 
Coming back to the game in Nagpur, India did all the right things in the match to put themselves in the position of regaining the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. It started with winning the toss and then just doing the basics right. The pitch didn't offer much to the bowlers with bounce being on the lower side and the pace on the slower. 
 
Tendulkar went on to score his 40th Test century and his 10th against the Aussies. If a team needed to force a result, it was Australia and for that they had to create opportunities. Instead they dropped catches and allowed India to score 441 in their first innings.
 
The only bright spot for the Aussies was debutant Krejza, who took eight Indian wickets in the first innings to go with the four in the second. He got a lot of tap from the batsmen but showed a lot of heart to flight the ball and look for a wicket despite taking the beating he did and his brave bowling display was rewarded with a man-of-the-match award on debut.
 
Jason Krejza

Some of the tactics employed by Australia surprised me. After a solid start in the first innings where they were scoring at nearly four runs an over (189 for 2 in 49 overs), they went on to score just 166 runs in remaining 85 overs on day three and played into India's hands. On the fourth day they managed to reduce the Indians to 160 odd for 6 at tea and were within striking distance of wrapping up the innings in quick time. But they started off with the part-time bowlers and let the opportunity slip once again.
 
Yes, the overrate was slow and the captain would've been penalised with a one-Test ban but letting go of the chance of winning the Test and with it retaining the trophy didn't make sense.
 
India managed to claw their way back into the game and once they had the cushion of 382 runs to bowl with in the last innings on a day five pitch, the trophy was theirs even before the result was known.
 
Australia tried to chase the target but made a right hash of it. They were outplayed by a superior side and the questions regarding their supremacy on international cricket loom larger than ever.

India take on England in a seven-match ODI series followed by a two-match Test series.

While England have shown great improvement under Pietersen's captaincy, beating this Indian team would take some doing. Personally, I would've preferred at least one, if not two, more Tests because seven one-day matches are a couple too many to keep the interest going. In either case, it's certainly an exciting six weeks of cricket to look forward to.

Aakash Chopra opened the batting for India in 10 Tests, forming an all-Delhi combination with Virender Sehwag during India's tour of Australia in 2003-04. He also made his mark as an exceptional bat-pad fielder. He writes columns for the Hindustan Times and Cricinfo. He recently wrote Beyond the Blues, out in December, his season diary for Delhi's 2007-08 championship season.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    The opening paragraph is all wrong.India did not do the unthinkable in beating Australia.They were actually favourites with the bookmakers here in London.

    Wasn't any great surprise as Australia were always going to struggle to cope with the loss of 3 all time great players.

    Agreed that the test matches against England should be 4 tests.Fed up with one day,20/20 getting more coverage during a tour.

  • Comment number 2.

    All well and good, but you have to admit, Stewie Clark and Binger where not even close to their best. Might not have changed the result if they'd bowled to their potential, but still, all the talk of the Aussie demise in world cricket afther a series loss in India (after one win in 30 odd years) might be just a tad premature.

  • Comment number 3.

    I think you are getting a bit carried away.
    Firstly not sure how you can say this was 'unthinkable', India were favorites at home.
    India beat the aussies not that long ago at home and drew away, so it shouldn't suprise anyone that they won.
    Aussie dominance is coming to an end- don't get me wrong- they'll still challenge for the no 1 spot, but it will be a lot harder for them and it will involve series defeats at times.
    I'm not sure things are going to be that easy for India though-Ganguly and Kumble have already retired and it's only a matter of time before Tendulker and Dravid call it a day. The loss of these 4 will have a similar effect as losing Mcgrath and Warne did for the Aussies.
    You can't replace the experience of these players in the short term particular away fom home no matter how talented the youngsters are.
    I think we are looking at an interesting time in test cricket- India, Aussies, England and SA are all going to be competing for the 'best in the world' title.

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    This is a rather rediculous assertion - 'unthinkable'?? What are you talking about? Australia will struggle to beat many teams away from home these days - especially in South Asia, but not limited to there. Pakistan will struggle to beat Aus due to the former's constant chaos in the cricketing world. But Sri Lanka likely will beat Aus without much difficulty. England is likely to beat Aus as well. South Africa too will give a good fight. NZ won't. WI won't either, unless the Millions have made a difference! But really, Aus are no longer what they were. Let's accept that as a fact.

  • Comment number 6.

    haha

  • Comment number 7.

    i agree to some extent

  • Comment number 8.

    Well done to India. They thoroughly outplayed the Aussies. As others have said though it's not quite unthinkable. India should match anybody at home.

    I can't imagine the Aussies will be down for too long though. In fact its ominous when people like Ian Botham say that England will easily beat them. How many times have we said something similar?

    As for India, can they start to dominate away from home? I'm not too sure. Do the Indian Authorities really back Test cricket. 7 ODI's and 2 test matches against England is pretty poor and pointless. Why does the ECB agree to this? How can we judge India as a Test nation playing the good teams over 2 tests?

  • Comment number 9.

    India did the 'unthinkable' and won back the Gavas/Border trophy after several attempts. That is a fact.

    However, we really shouldn't get carried away, India are expected to at least draw in India and Win more.

    What is true though is that the Aussies are going through a transition and after this series and against England, India will also be going through a transitional period with Kumble, Ganguly and probably 1 other retiring.

    However, a positive note for India has been the emergence of their bowling outfit. The batting will always be there and will be with the emergance of quality batsmen so its great to see they can bowl the aussies out twice in a match.

    This is probably the reason why I think India are on the ascendency a little bit more than Australia and should now go on and aim for the number 1 team in the world. In Dhoni, I think they have a best person to do this.

  • Comment number 10.

    India did nothing unthinkable.They could have beaten Australia in Australia early this year but for some ridiculous umpiring in the Sydney test. Moreover, the Aussies lost in their stronghold of Perth marking the ineffectiveness of their pace attack in the absence of McGrath.On a separate note, I think people here rate the poms quite highly.I guess KP or no KP,they'll still lose to this Aussie side.and India needs to win tests consistently for another year before they can lay claim to No 1 title.

  • Comment number 11.

    Unthinkable ? You`re kidding. Besides the lose of great players, there were only 4 players in this Aus squad who had played a test in India before. None of the bowlers had played a test before and several players had played less than 6 tests in total. Can`t remember the last time Aus fielded such an inexperienced team. Tour actually went to expectation. Congrats to India for a fine, consistent performance.

  • Comment number 12.

    India have played an incomplete side, give this side another 12 months and we will be formidable once more.

    There were a number of good performances from India and few from the Aussies, little luck fell our way. If the Indians got some of the decisions from the umpires which the Aussies received then there would be a few vastly experienced umpires in forced retirement right now, that's for certain. And yet not a whisper from the Australian camp about these instances.

    Congratulations India, enjoy it while it lasts.

    Tick, Tock.

  • Comment number 13.

    "Slightly negative", LOL

  • Comment number 14.

    Unthinkable? Hardly. India did beat Australia in a home series a few yrs ago. They have always done very well against the Aussies . They also drew the series in Australia a few months ago

  • Comment number 15.

    I don't know what you mean that India did the unthinkable! I wonder if you have ever followed Indian cricket, especially during the last 10 years. I don't even know, if you know Peter Roebuck the great legendry cricket writer or Mihir Bose for that matter or even all the journalists in the English Press who covered this series. Well, just to brush up your knowledge Peter Roebuck had this to say in his own words"The greatest rivalry in Test cricket for some years has been the one between Australia and India." Well that takes quiet some courage for an Australian to say publically! And this series victory is not just some flash in the pan, it has been in the making for years now! And did you even follow what happened when India toured Australia down under in 2007/08? Okay, India did not win the Test series and everybody in the cricketing world knows the Sydney Test , and even that unfortunate Sydney Test, did you even bother to read what Peter Roebuck had to say about that Test? And what do you have to say when during the same tour India won the ODI 2-0 beating Australia overwhelmingly!. So in short what India did in this series was not the unthinkable but the thinkable. And I think any cricketing country in the world would like to do something which their predessors did not do. Your article is not worth a piece of salt and I say so since I follow with interest all cricket matches no matter who the countries are! I wonder if you will have the same to say if England beat India or if India beat England. Whoever wins this England/India series we should give that team the credit. Cricket is not about Patriotism or any such nonsence, its all about playing this wonderful sport and testing each others skills. Thats what it was meant to be in the first place!

  • Comment number 16.

    If 20 wickets is the minimum to win a test - what is the maximum !!!!

  • Comment number 17.

    "if you know Peter Roebuck the great legendry cricket writer or Mihir Bose for that matter or even all the journalists in the English Press who covered this series. Well, just to brush up your knowledge Peter Roebuck had this to say in his own words"The greatest rivalry in Test cricket for some years has been the one between Australia and India." Well that takes quiet some courage for an Australian to say publically"

    Peter Roebuck is neither legendary nor Australian...

    He is heavily syndicated in Indian newspapers.

    He who pays the piper calls the tune...

  • Comment number 18.

    While I appreciated the previous blog by this writer, I am not so much appreciative of this one though. The content lacks richness, the analysis of the game is grossly incorrect to at some points and at times the writer fails to induce ingenuity in his writing. I don't understand why bbc is wasting its web-space to accommodate blog like this one. Get some quality analysts who can write well unless you want to turn your readers away.

  • Comment number 19.

    For your kind information I read a lot of Australian newspapers on the web and if you don't like the unbiased way Peter writes about cricket in the Australian newspaper then off course you have a problem. If you want to disown Peter as not a Australian, I think you should ask yourself the question who were the 1st inhabitants to come to Australia were in the first place, before disowning anyone as a puppet of the Indian syndicate. I think that is an insult to cricket journalists anywhere in the world. Peter may not be a legend to you but he is to the rest of the cricketing world. And lastly we don't discuss politics on this forum but cricket fair and square.

  • Comment number 20.

    Jovial - how do you know I am not one of the "first inhabitants" of Australia. Very presumptious of you.

    And I cannot fathom what they (or I) have to do with the fact that Roebuck is English, not Australian.

    Roebuck's Anti-Australian agenda is clearly evident in his writing and he struggles to view cricket involving Australia objectively.

  • Comment number 21.

    India's experienced lot (fab 4 plus Kumble) retiring is not likely to have a similar effect on the Indian Test team as the Australian greats' going had on the Aussie team. There are very competent replacements waiting in the wings. Just see how Gambhir's suspension for the last Test wasn't even noticed. In the bargain we have tested a new cap. This kind of bench strength should keep every ones' performance level up.
    Indian fans are in a tearing hurry for their team to be put on the no.1 pedestal, but the standard of fielding of this team was woeful. And it doesn't look as though we can expect any significant improvment as our cricketers are not the best of athletes. This is one aspect in which at least half the team continues to struggle. Even elementary errors go on persisting. At times fielders are unforgiveably lazy. Not all of them are even good runners between the wickets. Dhoni and Vijay were two exceptions. Some smart stumpings by Dhoni, which now we have come to expect of him as routine, relieved the dismal fielding effort somewhat. Him running out Hussey on an obviously erratic shy at the wicket by Vijay was exceptional and together with Mishra's farewell to Ponting, a highlight of the Nagpur Test.

  • Comment number 22.

    oh!, so Peter is English and that disqualifies him for giving his views. Have you seen Allan Borderl/Ian Chappel/Steve Waugh talking to the media in India after this series was lost. They were just as critical as Peter. Lastly Bob Simpson also writes a great deal to different cricketing magazines.
    So if you want take Peter out of the way and send packing to England, why not add Border/CHappel/Waugh/Simpson out of your way and you will be at peace with yourself l
    When a journalist gives his views he does so from his point of view and in all honesy.

  • Comment number 23.

    India derserved to win through the cricket they played and it is not UNTHINKABLE, hope they continue to play like that.

    Australia only win by bullying and sledging opposition out, without sledging Australia are not as formidable and on this tour it showed.

  • Comment number 24.

    what's so remarkable about it? what if ponting had not cared about the over rate on the fourth day at tea? Weren't they in trouble? Doing the unthinkable is when India can win a number of series on the trot against any opposition. Don't think they will ever be able to manage that, not with those lazy fielding antics!!

  • Comment number 25.

    It's hilarious that you think Roebuck writes without a bias against Australia. Pretty much everyone but you can see it.

    I've followed cricket long enough to see quite a few false dawns from the Indian side. Seems like more of the same here.

  • Comment number 26.

    Australia were pretty awful to be honest. You can't really call them the best team in the world any more, when South Africa beat them soon I think it will be offical that SA are the best team in the world, which i dont think you can argue too much with at the moment.

    If you can't bowl sides out you will end up loosing lots of games no matter how good your batsman are.

    England should provide a much sterner test for India.

  • Comment number 27.

    Aussie were beaten fair and square, period. India started as favourites although some doubters (the Beeb included) were not very confident of our "Dad's Army" and their ability to cope with the new age cricket promised by the champions - a claim that was eventually rubbished by the gross incompetence of an undercooked Australian side.

    As for England providing a sterner test for India - well, I hope they do. The past fornight of Stanford circus has left far more cracks in the English dressing room than they'd care to admit. India will surely try to capitalize on those and don't be surprised if the sledging goes along the lines of "has your wife stopped lap dancing" to "whatever happened to your pink ferrari, mate"

  • Comment number 28.

    India beat Australia comprehensively.

    Whether it was unthinkable or not is besides the point.

    Whatever sound bites come from Aussies / journos/ English etc are just that. Soundbites.

    Fact is the series was won 2-0.

    That won't change.

    Congratulations INDIA!!!

    Who's next in the thrash list ? :-)

  • Comment number 29.

    "England should provide a much sterner test for India."

    er.. can they make 100 runs without getting all out?

    last time I checked they could only manage 98, and that too against a club class team.

    ouch!

  • Comment number 30.

    jovialANANDSAMUEL, at least get your facts straight before you insult others: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Roebuck -- Roebuck is English.

  • Comment number 31.

    The Aussies tried to win the last test and though they fell short, I applaud the effort. Unlike the last England-India test series, with India up 1-0, England played for a draw in the last test match.

  • Comment number 32.

    Come now chaps.

    Yes, Indian bowling is seeing a resurgence.

    Yes, the Aussies without Warne, McGrath and Gilchrist are not the team they once were.

    But to suggest that teams the calibre of the Bangladesh or England are now likely to beat Australia is not even plausible enough to raise a laugh.

    The minnows of international cricket are still the minnows, that much is unchanged.

  • Comment number 33.

    What a load of garbage!
    I hope the BBC doesn't pay for this...... how embarrassing.

    India always beat Australia in India. When the Aussies won in 2004 it was the first time in over 30+ years.

    India played well but were also very lucky. Aust had many injurries, lost the toss, got the worst of the poor umpiring decisions.

    Aust will no doubt be disappointed. But they did just beat India in a test series less than a year ago. I'm not sure losing in India means much at all really.

    The big test for the Aussies will be RSA.

    It will be interesting to see how India fare against England. Perhaps England can catch them in a moment of weakness. India may lose some concentration after such a big series. Maybe, probably not.

  • Comment number 34.

    Australia were never favourites on the dust-bowl pitches of India. In fact, nearly ever team over the history of the game has struggled to get a result over there for the very same reason. Remember, India only really became 'beatable' in India when Australia started doing it.

    I would be very wary about jumping to conclusions about either team. India are far too inconsitant, and will be losing some more irreplacable players themselves very soon. The only difference is that Australia have a VERY strong domestic system, and while the likes of Warney/Mcgrath/Gilly will never be fully replaced, there is a much better chance of it happening in Australia than India.

  • Comment number 35.

    One thing that everyone seems to have overlooked is that once "Punter" Ponting is put under pressure he really goes to pieces. It happened in England with his infamous outburst after being run out, it has happened here in India, first of all by confused selection and on field tactics, secondly by blindly running himself out in the last innings, all signs of sheer panic and bad judgement. He is not a very good captain, his record with Warne and Mcgrath has covered up his tactical and mental weaknesses. He handled the series againgst India in Australia very badly, was lucky to escape censure and his comments and whingeing in India have been incredulous to anyone who has watched the on field cricket. I am not sure how long he will last, but for any watching opposition captain the message must be to get under Ponting's skin, as he cleaerly cannot cope with it.

  • Comment number 36.

    Unthinkable ? Well, yes to some extent, if we see, it was 2-0. Aussies didnt win a single match...it happened last in 1981-82 if my statistician is telling me right figures....

    And all those talking about Eng beating us...fellas...get a life...

    I wont say Aussies will come back...since i dont think they have gone anywhere....they are very much there on the top...

  • Comment number 37.

    winning in perth was unthinkable!!! in india we were the fav. indian cricket has been on the rise for the last one year and we have proven it by thrashing the oz's at home.Nxt england will get a thrashing from us(wrong time to come to india)

  • Comment number 38.

    Good call by nickinsingapore - I've maintained for some time that Ponting looked better than he really was cos he had Warne's cricketing nous to fall back on. When his back is up against he wall, what does Ponting do - he whinges. Just like a Pom!! It's the same for all the other captains out there, so just get on with it. And to throw away the chance of winning, just so as not to be suspended is so arrogant. One test - and against a team not ranked as high as some others ...(sorry to all you kiwis), surely he could have gone for the win.
    Well done India for rattling him so badly and congrats on winning the trophy. Let's see if the Kiwis can learn from this .....

  • Comment number 39.

    Nice blog Aakash.

    Indian cricketers have realised that Test Cricket is the real thing.

    Legends and icons have shaped their status by playing Test cricket. Anil, Saurav, Sachin, Laxman, Rahul, Veeru, Bhajji, Zaheer and MSD are top class performers in Test Cricket.

    The love, respect, admiration and farewells to Anil Kumble and Saurav Ganguly have further confirmed that Test Cricket is the pinnacle in the careers of cricketers.

    Congratulations to Team India.



    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 40.

    With all due respect Akash you lack depth or balance to reflect on India's victory. In fact, most of your columns in general fall short of required insight.

    It's an impressive victory, but it's not least bit unthinkable. India, like Sri Lanka, are masters in their backyard.

    Over rated superlatives and adjectives are a good indicator you are not yet ready for primetime.

    Also competition was closer than you think.

    I only witnessed a 'unthinkable' when Ricky Ponting practically conceded the chance of winning by bringing in part timers after tea on the fourth day of the final test.

    Other than that the series win was not fully unexpected.

  • Comment number 41.

    Whats all this nonsense about Warne/McGrath/Gilchrist not being in the side....Did the Poms expect them to play cricket till their dying day...???

    When the Aussies win a series at home...all is fair and square. When India wins a series at home...its because they always have a "HOME " advantage.
    Time to scrap this kind of ridiculous nonsense...!!!

    Victory.....and Defeat should be taken in the right sporting spirit...with a large dose of magnanimity and humility.

    The term " L O S E R " applies to people who dont possess magnanimity or humility in Victory or Defeat....!!!

  • Comment number 42.

    Hang on guys. Australlians are hurting after losing three great players who retired recently. Moreover, Symond's exclusion hasn't helped either, plus Brett Lee's domestic problems. They will bounce back surely as there is no dearth of talent there. Meanwhile, India gets better with every match. All the better for world cricket, we get to see better, more fiercely contested cricket.

 

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