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It Requires Extra Ordinary Circumstances To Topple Mighty Australia

By Orin Davidson
India are making a brave fight back, but for all the guts displayed by Sachin Tendulkar and company in Sydney, Australia already seems to have the current Border/Gavaskar series covered.

The mighty Australian.

Unless you are an eternal optimist for India, there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind Australia will win series and erase the world record set by the team under Ricky Ponting’s predecessor Steve Waugh for the longest streak of successive wins by any Test team.

For the simple reason that at the halfway stage, Australia has stayed on top of their opponents without ever falling behind after one Test and a half in the four-match rubber.

The world champions made it look like child’s play winning the first game at Melbourne and although India made a huge improvement in the second encounter, they are nowhere closer to taking the initiative, than they were at the beginning of the series.

India’s best performance so far was highlighted by a brilliant bowling start at Sydney and an excellent follow up batting display, but the fortunes remain even-steven, without the visiting team feeling justified they are on course to leveling the series.

It is simply because Australia is just too powerful even after the retirement of Shane Warne, Glen McGrath and Justin Langer.

India’s RP Singh was sensational in leading a strangulation of Australia’s top order when the homesters found themselves unusually backed against the wall on 134 runs for six wickets in the first innings on a supposedly slow Sydney pitch.

Then came Andrew Symonds who crashed a pulsating unbeaten century, albeit being given two chances, and took Australia out of a precarious hole in the process. Spin bowler Brad Hogg helped immensely too, when the world least expected, smashing a career best 79.

In admitting that he was out at 31 caught behind, it was a revelation by Symonds as unusual as an empty Melbourne Cricket Ground (MSC) on Boxing Day, for an Australian player.

No Aussie ever gives a hint he is out which is why they never walk or admit not taking a catch cleanly or not making a clear run out in the field.

Symonds comes across as aberration of the typical Aussie cricketer, like Adam Gilchrist who was once famously deemed the first Australian to walk since Bill Lawry lost his car keys.

Nevertheless, the uncanny ability of their players to pull off spectacular feats in times of need, never ceases to amaze, which exemplifies their depth that stands them head and shoulders above other team in both forms of the game these days.

Australia went on to amass 463 at Sydney which would’ve demoralized most teams, but India rebounded with another brilliant showing that saw them rallying to amass 532 runs in reply.

Tendulkar scored a great unbeaten 154 which confirms he is finally emerging back close to his best after the long post injury rut that influenced so many fans to conclude his batting ability was in decline and beyond redemption.

There is an old theory that states a batsman is not worth his salt unless he scores a century in Australia.

One small indicator of Tendulkar’s greatness is that he passed that test the very first time he played Down Under. His latest ton makes him one of the rare players to accomplish the remarkable feat of notching three -figures in Australia on every tour there, which amounts to four to date. And yesterday’s (Friday) 154 not out pushed his average at the Sydney ground to a stupendous 326 per innings, emphasizing his greatness, like no other statistic and his classification as India’s best batsman ever.

As a result the tourists notched a first innings lead of 69 which is all they have to show for giving Australia the biggest fright they likely will have for the entire series, although it is only halfway done.

For one thing India’s attack has been severely weakened by the absence of fast bowler Zaheer Khan. For all that Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble has done so far, Khan is their trump card on this particular tour and without him they have lost a serious bowling edge.
Wickets win matches and had Khan been available for this current Test match India would’ve been the team carrying the whip at this time.

The left arm seamer is said to be suffering from a heel injury and was promptly sent back home to India, thus being ruled out of the remaining three Tests.

Which seems a quirky decision.

For someone who bowled more than 40 overs without breaking down in the first Test less than a week earlier, it sure seems strange he has suddenly become so badly injured he cannot continue the tour.

Why he was not given some more time to heal for a chance to at least play one more
game is baffling considering his importance to the team. India though, has a history of chopping and changing its teams regardless, which might explain their inability to build world champion teams despite having a cricket population larger than the combined numbers of the rest of the world several times over.
Khan’s four wicket haul in the Brisbane first innings proved his worth in all types of conditions which followed up on his vital role in India’s series win over England last summer there.

With Khan out of the way, don’t expect another similar type Australia collapse in the remainder of this Test or the others at Perth and Adelaide.

No disrespect to RP Singh, Kumble, Harbhajan or the backup seam bowlers.
But it takes more than one or even two bowlers to come good at the same time to make Australia vulnerable especially when they are playing at home.

And with Ricky Ponting due his customary big scores, the odds are stacked higher against India reproducing any type of bowling performance similar to the first half of Wednesday at Sydney.

It begs the question – what is required for any team to beat Australia in a Test series, or even topple them from their pedestal on top of the world?

Surely it is not for a lack of talent in the other major Test playing nations like West Indies, South Africa, Pakistan, England New Zealand or India.

Proper organization has to be the key. It is no surprise England was the last team to defeat Australia in a Test series two years ago. They are closest to Australia in terms of adopting a professional approach to developing their cricket.

And unless West Indies, India, Pakistan and New Zealand follow suit don’t expect to hear of Australia being dubbed ex- world champions anytime soon.
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