India won the Twenty20 tie in Mumbai in convincing fashion. They played like the World Champions they are in this form of the game.
Peter I-may-be-one-eyed-but-at-times-I-am-also-blind Lalor, dismisses the game as a Bollywood drama, in his piece in The Australian. But I will persist with reading Lalors’ outpourings. I am, like John I-am-the-only-true-optimist-in-Australia Howard, an eternal optimist! My hope is that he will grow up one day to see that there is a world out there beyond the edge of his own nose!
Despite the best efforts of the Lalors to downplay and downgrade this Australian loss — afterall, the Lalors have to find succour in something when their team loses — this was an impressive win. Despite the utter lack of grace in defeat in their writings, this was a solid performance from India. When India batted, it seemed that they were in total control. Not for once did I think India would lose. Friends of mine switched off their TV sets of drifted off to sleep even as early as the 11th over of the Indian reply. It was that obvious that Australia had run out of ideas; it was that clear that India would win! Such was India’s dominance when batting.
Normally, Indian TV sets are turned off because of disgust at the teams’ performance! Not so on Saturday! One saw a totally relaxed and playful Indian dug out. The players seemed confident, cheerful and playful.
Lalor can continue to turn his nose at the Twenty20 game. I am confident that he would have filed a different report had Australia won and that is why I feel he needs to stop wearing nappies when he writes. Moreover, he sniggers at this victory and at this form of the game at his own peril. This form of the game is here to stay.
My view is that Australia hasn’t understood this game. It is not that this form of the game does not present a stage where skill could be demonstrated. It is not that teams with more muscle and no skill will win. Any such conclusions would be wrong — and would be in the growing dictionary of Lalorisms! It does, however, shorten the gap between the best and worst teams because intensity-levels need to be switched on for a relatively shorter period of time.
Australia, one felt, got it wrong by selecting the wrong team for this game. I could not quite understand why Brad Hogg sat this game out. It is somewhat known that the Indian players do not rate Hogg’s spin too highly. Most players are, apparently, able to read Hogg vry well and ascribe the wickets he has got mainly to the fact that Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson have often made the early inroads. Be that as it may, I do feel Hogg would have created more pressure on the Indians than the bowling complement that Australia had for this game.
Australia also lacked the intensity in this game — especially when India batted. Apart from Ricky Ponting, the other batsmen appeared to be trying too hard. They did not play with their customary swagger and confidence that one has got so accustomed to.
And who knows? Brad Hodge may have played his last game for Australia. He has had a nightmare of a month and will want to put this behind him. Age is not on his side either!
After Australia won the toss and elected to bat, the Indian bowling and fielded was what can best be described as an “Indian effort”. Apart from Harbhajan Singh and, to a lesser extent, Murali Kartik, the rest of the bowlers bowled too many “gimme” balls. The worst culprit in this department was Sreesanth. A different team or even a different Australia would have taken this ill-disciplined attack apart. However, the wrong Australia turned up to the park on the day and India got away with a highly gettable 167!
The Indian batting was clinical, controlled, fearless and purposeful. Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa and Yuvraj Singh batted with composure and calmness that meant that India did an Australia and won in a canter.
In fact, it looked like the players had exchanged clothing at the start of the game! While India played with flair, purpose and intensity, Australia played without a plan, with flagging spirits and displayed some ordinary fielding and bowling. The bowling was mostly off target and the number of wides and no-balls reflect that. The fielding was also somewhat ordinary.
A question has to be asked: Why won’t this same team do for the ODIs against Pakistan?
In an interesting move, India rested Zaheer Khan. And that is the sort of courage that Team India needs in its selection as it moves forward into a brave new world.
Another topic for another day…