|Change of format, but no change in result for India|
Thursday, 02 February 2012 Written by Administrator
Sydney: The format changed, but not Indiaâ€™s fortunes. In the first of the two T20 Internationals, Australia won again in the near absence of a challenge from Indiaâ€™s batsmen who finished 31 short chasing 172. The damages were minimised by skipper MS Dhoniâ€™s 48, but the contest had ended in the eight over when India were reduced to 53-4. This time, they werenâ€™t undone by Australian pace, but by the spin bowling of the 40-year-old Brad Hogg and part-timer David Hussey.
India have lost 13 of their last 14 international fixtures abroad, an immense worry since the under-fire veterans had a hand in eight of those. They had young players in the other games. Compare that to Hogg, who is making his international comeback having retired in 2008. He was named in Australiaâ€™s T20 squad after a prolific run in the Big Bash League.
Australiaâ€™s score was set up by Matthew Wadeâ€™s breezy 72 and Husseyâ€™s 42 that maintained the pace David Warner had set with a quick 25. After India elected to bowl, there were two major takeaways from Australiaâ€™s innings. The first was the energy and the body language of the Indians on the field.
The generational difference was all too visible: in the Tests, India displayed a calm, emotionless resignation to their fate. But the limited overs squad is different. The average age of the eleven Indians playing in Sydney today is 26 years. They dived around, gave the hard chase, and when wickets fell, they celebrated with palpable energy. When Rahul Sharma bled from his right hand after dropping a difficult return catch off Travis Birt, he went off the park, got taped up and returned to finish his overs. Unfortunately for India, the energy ceased to exist once they came out to bat.
The second was Australiaâ€™s dismantling of Indian spinners. Ravichandran Ashwin tossed some up to Warner and Wade who took full advantage and provided the template for attacking batting. Their confident forward stride was followed by a lovely straight swing of the bat. The ANZ Stadium â€“ hosting its first international cricket fixture today â€“ has long straight boundaries, nearly 90 metres on both sides. But Wade and Warner could clear them with ease several times. Wade struck three sixes, Warner two â€“ including one switch-hit over extra-cover off Ashwin.
This sits in contrast to Indiaâ€™s defensive approach to Nathan Lyon in the Adelaide Test, and how they played Australiaâ€™s spinners today. Australia ended the contest after taking three wickets in three overs. Gautam Gambhir mistimed a drive to cover, Virat Kohli hit a short ball to long-on, and Rohit Sharma â€“ whoâ€™d been waiting since December to play for India â€“ was bowled first ball by a quicker one from Hussey. The shot-making was tentative and the strike rotation poor. There were no partnerships in the top-order. The young team has much to learn and it is unlikely things will get easier for them in the one-day internationals to follow.