Australia v India :: ODI :: “Hard but Fair”

India won the toss and started positively by chosing to bat first in overcast conditions in this, the first match of a tri-series ODI that involves Australia, India and Sri Lanka! Electing to bat first was a bold move. Most of the Channel-9 commentators and ABC commentators felt that this was a wrong move, especially since Australia went into the game with 4 pace bowlers!

Manoj Tiwary was chosen ahead of Praveen Kumar. Rohit Sharma was there, one thought, for an injured Yuvraj Singh. Dinesh Karthik also missed out.

The Channel-9 commentators thought that 240 would be a par score on this pitch under such conditions.

Healey started off by saying that India would be 40-5. Lawry said no way would India be 40-5 and attempted to shut Healey up. The former Australian ‘keeper said “Ok they would be 30-6 then!”

This brings to sharp focus the insular nature of commentary in Australia. Commetartors such as Robin Jackman, Geoff Boycott, Tony Greig, Ian Chappell, Michael Slater, Greg Blewett, Bruce Yardley, et al are regularly invited to Indian homes via TC sets. We still have on Channel-9 a paranoia-stricken and xenofobia-stricken approach that sees a clutch of former Australian cricketers willing Australia on to victory. Nothing wrong with that, but perhaps balance and perspective suffers as a result. But then, as Lalors would have us believe, Australian sport is about being “hard but fair”!

India started off steadily, but in the 4th over, Sehwag chose to cut a Nathan Bracken delivery close to his chest. The resulting under edge crashed onto his leg stump! India was 13-1. Soon after, through a freak hit-wicket dismissal of Sachin Tendulkar, India was 26-2! At the end of 8 overs, India was on 27-2. Rohit Sharma and Gautam Gambhir had to now hold the innings together. The 9th over saw 11 runs come to Gautam Gambhir from 30-year-old Ashley Noffke’s debut over in ODI cricket. At the end of 10 overs, India was 44-2. Early marks had gone to Australia although the pitch wasn’t really doing anything! The batsman had basically handed the initiative to Australia.

The 11th over saw a dogs’ breakfast of a fielding from James Hopes who put in a fielding effort that Munaf Patel would have been proud of! I am not sure if Peter Lalor is going to write about it though! He may not have even observed it — most of his type are oblivious to internal blemishes by the Australians! Their mirrors just see the bad and unruly behaviour of crowds in Mohali! The rest of their world is somewhat perfect! The end of the over saw India reach 52-2, not quite the five-down-for-nothing that Healey had bleated about!

The 13th over saw two catches dropped at slip by Mike Hussey at 2nd slip and Ricky Ponting respectively! Gautam Gambhir poked at two Mitchell Johnson deliveries and down went two catches. In the very next over, bad judgement from James Hopes meant that a skier was put down in the deep off a Rohit Sharma dance-down-the-pitch shot. I am sure Lalor was watching these too, but I am sure he will have bad India fielding and bad India over rates to write about later on in the night! The Australian catching, truth be said, has been woeful all summer.

Gambhir was living dangerously. He had played some excellent shots, no doubt, but his off-side pokes were either being spilled or were falling in vacant paddocks.

The two Indian youngsters got the score moving nicely till the 20th over when Gambhir fell LBW to Mitchell Johnson — a bowler who’d probably, by then, lost confidence in his colleagues’ ability to catch the ball — for 39 off 51 balls. India was 91-3. This bought debutant Manoj Tiwary to the crease. He played and missed and copped a verbal spray from Mitchell Johnson immediately. “Welcome to cricket in Australia, but don’t worry we play hard but fair”, was the message — at least, that is what a Lalor would have you believe! At the end of the 20th over, the score was 92-3.

Tiwary had just come into the country for 24 hours as cover for Yuvraj Singh and seemed like he may have wanted a bit more time before he was thrown into the deep end! The Australians were testing him with the short stuff. Immediately, Rohit Sharma departed and it was 93-4. Tiwary did look totally uncomfortable and out of place! He didn’t seem to belong on this stage. And he did not last long. Tiwary was probably chosen ahead of the more settled and acclimatised Dinesh Karthik (or even Praveen Kumar) for his bowling prowess. One only hopes that he bowls really well.

M. S. Dhoni and Robin Uthappa reconstructed the innings slowly. Almost against the run of play, Uthappa gloved a rising delivery from Noffke to lob an easy catch to Michael Clarke. Once again, a good start was ruined by some reckless middle-order display.

After losing 4 wickets for 11 runs, India was badly on the back foot. The scoring rate dipped and crease-occupation was the name of the game. India crawled to 111-6 at the end of 30 overs, when the second drinks break was taken. The Australian over-rate was woeful — as it has been all summer; something that most match referees seem to be blind to these days! This perhaps forced Australia to use Michael Clarke’s left-arm spin.

Singles were the order of the day and India limped to 120-6 off 34 overs, when the mandatory ball change happened. At this stage is was nearly 90 balls and 68 mins since the last boundary had been scored! Things were turning out to be painfully slow for India at this stage. A rain break of over an hour reduced the game to a 45-over-a-side match along with a retention of the 45-minute dinner break! This is a bizzrre ruling? Why not eat into the dinner break?

This was followed by a few overs of acceleration from the Indians. Then, in an over from Noffke, a huge appeal for caught behind was turned down. The Australians were, of course offended. The crowd was also offended. Naturally. They’d have expected him to walk, because he is not Australiàn. Only Australians like the Gentleman Roy are allowed to stay their ground! The boos from the “hard but fair” Gabba crowd continued through the over.

When Pathan was out a few balls later he was roundly booed by the crowd. The poor crowd. It had to draw breath immediately to welcome Harbhajan Singh to the crease with a continuation of the boo-rhythm! The crowds’ aggression was perhaps understandable, although a Lalor would have you believe that the only hostile crowds come from Mohali or Mumbai! Sir, if you please, crowds in Australia play “hard but fair”. Do you mind!

While the crowds’ “hard but fair” hostility was understandable, Ian Healeys’ Laloristic commentary cry of, “Yeah! Stick it to him. Get right into him” commendation of the boos was thoroughly deplorable and despicable as Harbhajan Singh walked in to bat! Mind you, it was all “hard but fair” so it was all thoroughly ok! No problems there at all. The crowds at Mohali, sir? Naah! They are ruffians who won’t quite know the meaning of either “hard” or “fair”.

Harbhajan Singh came out in determined fashion. He combined some unorthodox shots with clever nudges and kept the scoreboard ticking along with Dhoni.

Dhoni lasted till the last over and then got out. The poor crowd. Had to draw breath once again to give a “hard but fair” (but of course) response to Sree Santh. Soon, the crowd had to draw its breath again to give a “hard but fair” send off to Harbhajan Singh as Singh got out. Just as it had given a “hard but fair” boo of no-ball every time Muralitharan came out to bowl.

India finished at 194 all out at the end of the 45th over.

Further rains meant that the game was reduced to a 43-over party with Australia needing to make 192 to win.

India, one felt, had one pace bowler less for this responsive track. Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar and Manoj Tiwary would need to combine to bowl 8-9 overs.

India’s best chance lay in taking a few quick early wickets. The “hard but fair” crowd continued to boo Harbhajan Singh as he fielded or stopped balls. But these are of course, unlike Mohali or Mumbai, friendly Laloristic environs.

India started badly. Pathan bowled down legside to a packed outside field and Sree Santh was intent on pitching in his half of the pitch! And then, against the run of play, Gilchrist edged a down-the-legside ball from Sree Santh to Dhoni behind the stumps.

Soon after that there was yet another extended rain-break. When the players came back, the game was shortened to a 26-over game with a target of 141. This would be a stiff target. Soon after resumption, both James Hopes (bowled Ishant Sharma) and Ricky Ponting (brilliantly caught by Sehwag in the slips off Sree Santh) fell cheaply and Australia were 39-3. Sreesanth and Sharma were, by now, bowling quite brilliantly.

With Australia on 51-3, though, the game was interrupted yet again by a rain break. And this was the end of the game. Both teams share two points in this circus.

The next match is a India Vs Sri Lanka tie… No “hard and fair” game that!

— Mohan

21 responses to “Australia v India :: ODI :: “Hard but Fair”

  1. Mark from Sydney

    The poor crowd….maybe it’ because they don’t worship the Monkey god. This is drivel. You should apply for a job at The Australian.

  2. Srikanth Mangalam

    Is Suresh Raina injured? I was surprised that they drafted Tiwary into the lineup when he was not even part of the original squad. He looked completely out of sorts at the centre.

  3. @Srikanth

    I suspect Tiwary was chosen ahead of Raina because they wanted a batsman who could also bowl well.

  4. In stark contrast to what we saw of the Indian batting in the test series, the last few days have been any informed fan’s nightmare. While honestly accepting the fact that I myself was probably very keen to see a younger side take over the realms of Indian one day cricket, I am not that enthusiastic anymore. I feel there has been either talent ignored at the domestic level as a result of which we are seeing a poor sample in Australia. Or its time to hit panic button. It was my first time watching Manoj Tiwary bat. I hope and pray that it was a one off day for him. If, however, what I saw on TV today is what he is all about, I pray that he has a backup profession. He didnt look like international cricket material to me. Rohit Sharma reminds me of Jadeja and can probably fit the No.6 slot. But so are all the other batsmen in this side. I am not an ardent follower of domestic cricket as some of you. Gambir, Uthappa, Rohit Sharma, Tiwari and Raina are all ok, but definitely not top class. They are probably brilliant for domestic level, but are not compact enough for stellar international careers. They are all lighter shades of Dhoni and Yuvraj at best. Are these the only alternatives we have?????? Our bowling department seems a lot more promising for the first time in years.

  5. Stop crying–geoff boycott and robin jackman haven’t been on channel 9 for 10 years. Like the rest of the content of your writings its based on fiction rather than fact! I hope you beat sri lanka because if you don’t I’m sure we’llhear outright bleating (or maybe more monkey chants)

  6. Monkey Chants ha ha ha ,..

    Know what for the world cup 2011, the official sponsors will be Monkey Tyres.

    So any player endorsing this brand would sport its logo in his entire kits.

    I will not be surprised if all OZ players endorse this brand too.. going by the histroy..

    Don;t talk as if OZs have been most innocent cricket playing souls on this earth..

    sledging is always two way.. u guyzz started it all and you will have live with it..

  7. theblackirishman

    Hi Bharath

    I had a different set of reactions when watching yesterday’s game. Rohit Sharma impressed me during the world cup and yesterday was no different. Even Ian Chappel had a favourable word or two about his composure & technique.
    Also, I enjoyed the Indian youthful response to 26/2. Instead of a playing conservatively and handing the initiative to Oz, it was refreshing to see a Gambhir & Sharma play some terrific shots.
    When you have 3 or 4 stalwarts of the same age/fitness group, their exit will take some replacing. If you look at India’s ODI performance in OZ, it has not been flash during the last few years.
    In my opinion, what I saw yesterday was promising. I expect it will take these young guns a few games to get the hang of conditions here. As Dhoni pointed out, the next month should see the wheat being sorted out from the chaff 🙂

  8. I agree with BlackIrishGuy.

    Rohit Sharma impressed. Although he will learn that an attractive 30 is worth nothing when his team does badly!

    These young guys will come good over time. They need to be persisted with. The problem with Greg Chappell was that he froze when his main proteges (Raina and Pathan) started to fall apart at the same time.

    These young guys need to be persisted with. The problem in yesterdays’ game was the absence of Yuvraj Singh there in the middle to hold things together.

    The fielding and running between wickets was positive. This is, in my view, a bold step in a good direction.

  9. Peter Lalor has written about slipping standards of Australian fielding!,25197,23153870-5001505,00.html

    — Mohan

  10. To be fair, the crowds in India are similar or worse. You should have seen the crowd in the last T20 match between India and Australia in Mumbai. I will only say crowds are what they are, Mumbai or Brisbane or Melbourne. The media panders to public taste. The fact that Indian media is no different from the Australian media extrapolates to the fact that the kind of audience or the larger public or the crowd they cater to is not very different. I am glad that Bhajji is taking this very well and I hope that others play it equally easy as well. I hope that Australian players play it the same way to the crowds when they are in India. The other day I was a spectator at the MCG and being fresh from Bangalore (just 3 weeks old here now), I found the crowd a tad lower in decibel level than the regular traffic on the streets of Bangalore except that they were a little more harmonious than the jarring of the horns and the auto rickshaw engines :-). I wouldn’t think Bhajji would have felt it any different :-). I see a positive side here, this is a trial by fire for Bhajji and others from the subcontinent and I am sure it will do them more good than harm.


  11. Healy is one of the most Biased commentators I have ever heard on TV.
    Slater is not too far behind. They believe being biased will make them popular amongst Aust fans and help them keep their jobs.Aust cricket has been embarresed once again for the antics of it’s cricketers,Aust media blames everyone else for this & can’t get over the same embarresment.They also can’t get over, no evidence so can’t
    convict,lynch mob mentallity.As far as Symonds goes, any bloke who wears Zinc cream to protect his lips from the sun during a “night game” would have to be a “Poser”. He wears that crap to try and Intimadate the opposition,nothing else.He’s been watching to many TV commercials where he is the “Star” Attraction.


  12. jeez, guys, it doesn’t matter what the Australians do!
    So the crowd were ‘hard but fair’ as opposed to sub-continental crowds? Everyone loves a villian, do you not remember Viv Richards getting jeered by the crowd? It is part of the game I obviously missed the bit where all
    opposing teams are politely clapped onto the field in other countries.

    “..Then, in an over from Noffke, a huge appeal for caught behind was turned down. The Australians were, of course offended. The crowd was also offended. Naturally. They’d have expected him to walk, because he is not Australiàn.”
    First of all you neglected to mention that replays show he was clearly out, and you want it both ways- Roy was given not-out and you complain, yet Australians can’t complain because…..?
    You also neglected to mention that Gilchrist was given not-out, but walked.
    Off topic it was good to see Virender Sehwag miked for the T20 game. Keep up the good work!

  13. @Nagaraj, @Nigel

    The “hard but fair” gig was all totally tongue in cheek… We are, at i3j3, a bit tired of the “hard but fair” deal. That was all. All crowds everywhere are parochial. It is just that when Australia tours India, the Lalors of the world start talking about “hostile” crowds; a word that’s been used so often in the context of Indian cricket and visiting-media that the dictionary itself is screaming out for a new word! I just thought I’d write a tongue-in-cheek article as though a Lalor-type would write when visiting India.

    I do not want any batsman to walk. The umpire is there to do a job. At the same time, I pointed out that the crowd did not boo Symonds when he stayed!

  14. Srikanth Mangalam

    On a side note, I was privileged to be in the crowd for entire Indo-Pak test match at Chennai a few years back when India lost the test despite a magnificant hundred by Tendulkar. I was seated in the famous “D” stand known for the most “knowledgeable” of crowds. The crowd was disappointed at the result, some of felt cheated as well. Those were the match-fixing glory days of Azharuddin and speculation was running high. Yet, the pakistani team felt the spontaneity to run across the ground after the victory, and the spectators were equally spontaneous in showing their appreciation for a great game. What a wonderful five days it was, talk of “hard but fair”.

  15. @Mohankaus

    Fair cop, ‘Hard but Fair’ has always been a bit of a joke (I equate it with Rugby league coach Jack Gibson.. for those in the know). However, it was interesting that Gilly commented whilst in the middle ‘now I know how Tendulkar feels at Chennai’, considering Chennai is a whole lot smaller than the G, the effect must be impressive to say the least especially if Gilly is only just feeling it after so many games all over the world… As for the crowd not booing Symonds, I think you are taking sportsmanship a bit far, they are, and always will be a parochial crowd, if situations were reversed, I am sure the crowd would be booing the non-walking Aussie in India! Anyway we should have a good one day series if it stops raining!

  16. @Nigel

    I think Gilly was commenting on how Tendulkar might feel in Kolkata, not Chennai! I could be wrong. Kolkata sees crowds of 100,000. The Chennai ground capacity would be approx 50,000 I think.

    I know I am taking crowd sportsmanship a bit too far. I guess all I was seeking from a Lalor-type was a recognition that crowds are crowds regardless of where they are located. They are there to support the home team! Fair enough… The next time we hear the adjective “hostile” or “unruly” to describe an Indian crowd, I hope that these descriptions here serve as a mirror to a Lalor. My feeling is that they won’t, but we live in eternal hope.

    The undisputed fact, though, is that an Indian TV living room invites (in this series) Ian Chappell and Michael Slater. The Australian TV living room continues to be fed with a continuing drone of jingoism from the Channel-9 comms.

    India appears to have shed its insular fears and embraced the world stage in this regard.

    — Mohan

  17. Has anybody seen this?

    Symonds must be feeling like a real dipstick!

  18. Srikanth Mangalam


    Your point about the commentary team is bang on. I never thought of it that way. Even british radio and tv coverage of indian tours includes one or two folks like Gavaskar or Bhogle.

    I compare Channel 9 commentary (that is unfortunately fed to my part of the world in NA) to Fox News in the US. Highly radical, right wing, jingoistic commentary that is provocative, fictional, and outrageous. Chappell and Slater’s views appear somewhat sanitized at times probably because they get exposed to broader minds in the ESPN team.

  19. @ Hedge

    Why would Symonds being feeling like a real dipstick, for whatever reason the mic didn’t pickup Harbhajan BUT during all the comments thrown at him by both Symonds and Hayden, he NEVER denies that he called him a monkey, on the contrary he says ‘he started it’ indicating that he did say it, or was he misunderstanding what the Australians were saying??

    It is over can’t we let it go?

  20. @Nigel

    Totally agree with you. It is over. Hopefully everyone has learned from it. Time to move on.

  21. great comments

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