Sunday, January 20, 2008

It's not quite sinking in yet

The new hero for India, 19 yo Ishant Sharma dismisses Australia's captain and long time hero Ricky Ponting.

The Australian cricket team were accused of being arrogant in Sydney. They celebrated with great excitement after a very narrow win in Sydney. The two teams later shook hands in the dressing rooms. A storm followed the Sydney test match with many allegations of cheating, arrogance and racism, based in many events during the test match. The two teams made up and apologised before the Perth test match.
An exciting test match followed. Both teams fought hard. India fought harder and won a famous test match. It has been pointed out that the on field rivalry between India and Australia has been the closest over the last two decades. Since 1991-92 Australia have won 10 and India 8 (there have been draws as well). In that same time Australia lead England 27-9. In previous years neither side would win a test match on their opponent's soil. (This is because the style of play between the two countries is quite different, India are the best at spin, and Australia favour fast bowling.) But in recent years both have swapped wins on foreign soil. This only means that the competition is heating up.
Some journalists have tried to say that Australia's reign as world test champions is coming to an end. It is a little early for such comments. Australia have just finished a world record equalling winning streak of 16 tests. The previous streak was by Steve Waugh's team and ended in 2001. That streak was ended in 2001 and was also broken by India. But India did not go on to have their own long winning streak in between.
This was one test match. Undoubtedly India played very well and were the stronger side. Some would say that it is because Mc Grath and Warne have moved on, that Australia are now a weaker side. But the newer bowlers performed well against Sri Lanka (ranked equal 2nd in the world with India), and definitely won the match for Australia in Melbourne.
Three things lost this test match for Australia. Firstly, Matthew Hayden was injured and did not play for the first time in over 90 tests. Phil Jaques his opening partner was playing only his 5th test as an opener and Chris Rogers his first. Having two new players in the most important spots in the batting order brings a lot of instability to the batting order. Hayden will be back for the Adelaide test. Secondly, the Australian team had a very slow over rate. This is still their fault and lead to them losing, but it does not mean they were an under strength side. The slow over rate meant that Australia's number one bowler, Brett Lee did not get to bowl enough, as the over rate had to be sped up. Thirdly India played very well, there were all round strong performances by multiple batsmen, where as there has been too strong a reliance on Tendulkar in the past; Ishant Sharma was a bright new shining light for India.
Australia have had one knock down. Their victory in Sydney was narrow. But this team have always fought hard for their wins. They have never expected things to come easily for them. They are always striving to improve themselves. This loss will not be any different. The team admitted that they are very hurt over this loss, and they are fired up to win in Adelaide. A loss can be a good thing, it will keep the Australian team human. It will also give the Australian public a chance to cheer for their underdog again, a position we are some how more comfortable with.

Congratulations India.

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