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India turn the tables

Aakash Chopra | 14:14 UK time, Tuesday, 21 October 2008

India's convincing win in the second Test proved that "old-fashioned" cricket still works. Before the series began Ricky Ponting had made a lot of hue and cry about how the Australians were going to play a new brand of cricket - i.e. aggressive and new-age - while the Indians are still stuck up on the old-fashioned way of playing.

Now, with the series standing at 1-0 to India at the halfway mark, Ricky might have to eat his words.

India didn't put a foot wrong in this Test match. As I'd mentioned earlier, winning the toss is crucial in this part of the world, and that was proved to be right yet again. Mahendra Dhoni won the toss and India piled on the runs.

It's a flat wicket, alright, but one still has to score off the bad balls and keep the good balls away. India started strongly with both Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir providing a good start (twice in the match) and then the middle order capitalized on that.

Sachin Tendulkar became the highest run-scorer in Test cricket and Sourav Ganguly crossed the 7000 runs mark, scoring a century along the way. India not only managed a huge first-innings total but also scored at a very brisk rate.

MS Dhoni

Dhoni's contribution, as shown by his man-of-the-match award, was invaluable. His two fifties put the game that much out of the Aussies' reach. His batting was backed up by his fantastic work in the field, not just as keeper, but also as an inspiring young captain. That's new-age cricket for you!

A few words on the track. This particular pitch is made of black soil and if one takes away the grass and moisture, it becomes a really good surface to bat on. The bounce is always on the lower side, and without any grass or moisture, the lateral movement is non-existent too. The ball just skids onto the bat to be hit through the line.

I never expected the Australian spinners to make an impression here but even the quicker bowlers let them down. What surprised me was their complete inability to get the ball to reverse swing in the air and that left them with very few options. At times (especially in the second innings) they looked like they were waiting for things to happen and the batsman to make a mistake.

When it was India's turn to bowl, they found a new hero in debutant Amit Mishra. He became only the sixth Indian to take a "five-for" on debut. The absence of Anil Kumble was a major cause of concern before the start of the game but Mishra slipped into the role seamlessly.

It just shows the depth of talent available in India. We have a quality fast bowling line-up and even the spin department looks very efficient. Add to that the formidable batting order and it just makes you wonder whether this was such an unexpected result after all!

The Australian batting failed twice on a beauty of a track and this was a combination of several things. Firstly, the pressure of 469 runs in the first innings is a lot, regardless of the quality of batting at one's disposal. Secondly, the Indian bowlers used the conditions better than their counterparts and kept a tight leash throughout. Last but not least, the shot selection of a few Australian batsmen left a lot to be desired.

The tables have now turned. If it was India who needed to do a lot of thinking after the first Test, it's now Australia's turn to come up with the answers because they seemed to have none to the questions thrown at them in this match.

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.


  • Comment number 1.

    Yes. Australia were outplayed in each and every department of the game, though to my mind, most specifically in captaincy [which incidently may have swayed the MOM for him]. Its early days yet but going by his past winning captaincy record, it may turn out to be the norm with Dhoni's leadership that he has an uncanny knack for handling his bowling attack. He used a mere four bowlers so imaginatvely that it looked as though he had eight. I am not sure, it is quite possible that of a sudden India have discovered the most combative and lethal combination in bowling, but the way Dhoni uses his resources they deliver whenever they come on. Dhoni's tactical acumen is apparent from the fact that his most successful bowler in the first innings was given the bowl only towards the end of the Australian innings, and the bowler gladly gobbled up two tailenders. If I may quote the Russian chess grandmaster Tal, the threat of a possible move is more effective than its actual execution. The timing of Mishra's coming on was masterful. And he is a captain who is constantly communicating with his bowlers even though most of them have played Test cricket much longer than him.

  • Comment number 2.

    The difference was Ian Chappel. Put him in any side and he is perfectly capable of demoralizing the side enough. And it definitely inspired some Indians to show off. He was a great cricketer in his time. He should be given the honor of choosing the ocean he would like to be dumped.

  • Comment number 3.

    Probably you meant Greg Chappell

  • Comment number 4.

    Rather than look at the negatives - and it doesn't help your point that you are confusing your Chappells - how about focusing on the enormous POSITIVE impact made by Gary Kirsten?

    In truth, we should not be at all surprised if India win this series fairly easily. A nation of one billion with the massive funding available from the riches of the BCCI should be able to beat a nation of 20m more often than not.

  • Comment number 5.

    Well played India!! You throughly deserved this win.

    But beware, Auz will come back roaring in Delhi! (Hopefully!)

  • Comment number 6.

    Oliver Brett
    None of us can claim to be entirely unbiased, but I must pick up on what I sense is a whiff of latent hypocrisy, especially as it comes from a BBC man.
    You know full well, Mr Brett, how test cricket in India rates compared to compressed forms of the game. The 'riches of the BCCI' appear at least much more resolutely geared to 20/20, than to test cricket. India's population has consistently been burgeoning since I was at school in the 1950s/60s, a factor not always correlative to the quality of teams they have been able to field. Indeed, until relatively recently, India has struggled to produce more than the occasional seam bowler of genuinely test class, the exceptions being Kapil Dev and Javagal Srinath.
    Of far greater relevance, to my mind, is the overt challenge that Australia have consistently been able to lay down to all comers for well-nigh 15 years, a challenge only very temporarily met by England in 2005, but far more often by India. Success has been less well handled by some Aussies, who have, whether they like to be reminded of if or not, blatantly indulged in boasting, sledging, or off-field character assassination that seems wholly out of step with their pre-eminent position. It is the combination of challenge and this cranked-up, highly personalised ante, that India, armed with to my mind the second-best team in the world at present, have met full-on.
    Nonetheless, you are only as good as your current ball. England ought to have kept that in mind instead of indulging in the inane hype that followed their 2005 victory. And I hope they do so next year!

  • Comment number 7.

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

  • Comment number 8.

    Not sure if ur comments were a deliberate attempt to spark controversy but if not they show a huge misunderstanding of the demographics...

    Yes, all things being equal, then a nation of 1 billion should beat one of 20 million. However the vast majority of India's population is born into poverty, with little or no chance of ever playing professional sport.

    Anyway, I look forward to seeing China win the next football world cup, Mr Brett! You numpty!

    p.s. - it must be due to Britain's 3 to 1 numerical advantage over the Aussies, for the reason that they have consitantly beaten them at cricket over the past 20 years...

    Double-numpty!! ;-)

  • Comment number 9.


  • Comment number 10.

    India may well win the series comfortably, and have played great cricket so far....but their quality batting line-up's days are numbered. Unless they can find some quality replacements quickly, they may well find themselves sliding down the ratings ladder faster than Australia. As for their bowling, yes, Inshant, Mishra and the evergreen Zaheer are looking great at the moment....but where's their strength in depth? How many Indian seam bowlers have made the top ten in the rankings over the last ten years?
    By the way, this is not meant to be a snipe...just a warning not to get carried away.

  • Comment number 11.

    Oliver Brett,

    I don't know about others, but I live in the UK and pay TV license which funds the BBC. And i hate to think that I'm paying for the salary of a nincompoop of a man whose "expert" comments defy and logic; rather whiff of hypocrisy and controversy.

    While India may be a country of one billion, the percentage of population having access to proper cricketing facilities are just a small fraction of the population. In fact, most Indians play their cricket on the streets and have never had a proper cricketing gear.

    In contrast, I've seen almost every village in UK having a good green lush ground and excellent cricketing facilities. In fact, you should not be surprised but the absolute number of people in UK having access to quality sporting facilities may well exceed those available to the Indians.

    Did your head drop in shame then when India beat England in the test series last year? Also, as pointed out by Brandyrecovery, does your head drop in shame also when the get consistently beaten by Australia in the ashes (save one series), a country with a third the population of UK?

  • Comment number 12.

    Look at how India play under Dhoni, in this test and when Kumble was off the field in the 1st test. Then think about how England play under Pietersen...the similarities are almost frightening...

  • Comment number 13.

    Congratulations to Team India. Our batsmen and bowlers are in form. They need to carry on the good work at the Feroz Shah Kotla Grounds in the Capital. Fine centuries by Saurav and Gautam and handsome contributions by the entire unit. Best wishes.

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 14.

    Oliver Brett,
    tutututut .. naive comments indeed!!

  • Comment number 15.

    "we should not be at all surprised if India win this series fairly easily. A nation of one billion with the ..."

    Cant believe you get paid to write.


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