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Thursday, Aug 11, 2022
Outlook.com
Outlook.com
Series Review

Mission Accomplished

Smarting under the unexpected 1-2 defeat suffered in the 2000-01 series, the Aussies learn their lessons well by planning meticulously to beard the lion in its own lair this time around.

Mission Accomplished
| AP
Mission Accomplished
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

Notwithstanding the dramatic 13-run defeat suffered in the fourth and final Test at Mumbai, Australia held a distinctive edge over India right through the high-profile series for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

The Aussies, smarting under the unexpected 1-2 defeat suffered against India in the 2000-01 series here, learned their lessons well from that failure by planning meticulously to beard the lion in its own lair this time around.

The 2-1 victory achieved by Australia was well-deserved as they looked far better prepared than India whose form had slumped severely since nearly conquering the Kangaroos in their backyard and then recording a historic Test series win in Pakistan.

As was revealed later by stand-in captain Adam Gilchrist, who led the Aussies to the series-clinching triumph in the third Test at Nagpur in the absence of regular captain Ricky Ponting, the planning had started soon after the defeat in the deciding Test at Chennai in the previous series.

Gilchrist said when the team played and won the TVS Cup one-day tournament last season, he and the others were preparing themselves to take on the twin threat of Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh for their next visit to this country.

The result of this advance planning was evident in Bangalore in the first Test itself when the Aussies, despite being confronted by a pitch from which all the grass was removed by the groundsmen by using steel brushes, bested the hosts with consummate ease and conviction.

The Bangalore pitch sported cracks resembling a dried bed of rivers, but the Australians made light of this and batted resolutely to clinch the huge 217-run win. The spark for their upswing of fortunes so early in the series was provided by the immensely talented youngster Michael Clarke whose century on debut, the first by an Australian batsman overseas in more than a century, had class and character written all over it.

Significantly had Ponting been available from the first Test, Clarke would have been cooling his heels in the dressing room. On such strange quirks of fortune are the fates of some rubbers decided!

Clarke and left-handed Simon Katich showed the rest of the Australian frontline batsmen how to tackle the Indian spinners on the Bangalore pitch and none learned lessons from their example better than Damien Martyn, later declared the man of the series.

Martyn shouldered the burden of carrying the Australian batting on his shoulders from the drawn Chennai Test onwards.

The West Australian, who hit two centuries on the tour and amassed 444 runs, looked well in control in every subsequent innings, save the last one at Mumbai when Murali Kartik deceived him with a faster one and trapped him leg before to pave the way for the pulsating home team win.

Martyn used his feet well to tackle the spinners but with wisdom coming with age and experience, was also choosy in stepping out, in marked contrast to Clarke whose twinkle-toed approach to combat the spinning ball was an absolute treat to watch.

Clarke too scored 400 runs in the series, the second biggest tally in the series after Martyn's, and these two batsmen -- with good support from Katich, Gilchrist and opener Matthew Hayden (who failed to take full advantage of the starts) -- formed the backbone of the Australian batting.

In total contrast was the batting performance of the home team which was also handicapped by the elbow injury of Sachin Tendulkar, which forced him to skip the first two Tests, and the thigh strain of Saurav Ganguly which made him miss the last two matches of the series.

Barring the occasional sparks provided by Virender Sehwag, the lone Indian centurion in the series, the others failed to do justice to their top billing.

There was no steady partnership at the top of the order, with Aakash Chopra and Yuvraj Singh playing musical chairs in the first three Tests before both were dumped in favour of newcomer Gautam Gambhir in the last Test.

The result was evident with the middle order coming under severe pressure from the relentless accuracy of Glenn McGrath and the fiery spells of Jason Gillespie, well supported by the nagging line of attack of Michael Kasprowicz.

The Indian middle order went into a shell from which they could not recover till the series had been lost in Nagpur.

With the pressure of expectations off Laxman, he produced his best form of the rubber in scoring 69 in Mumbai.

The wristy Hyderabadi also strung together a match-winning 91-run stand with Tendulkar who finally showed welcome signs of having fully recovered from his injury during the course of his second innings knock of 55 on a very difficult pitch.

PTI

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