Arjun Raja is a NRIOL featured sports columnist. To read about Arjun Raja, please Know more.
Australia continued its dominance of World cricket over the past 3 months with a resounding win in the second test of the best of three test match series to regain the Border-Gavaskar trophy.
The Indian team is in shambles and the Aussies who are not known to give favours, even on one of their better days, played as champions. Steve Waugh, the captain is very keen to win all six tests in this Australian summer and he is 5/6th of the way there with the last test beginning in Sydney on 2nd Jan -The first test match of the new Millennium!!
In the second test played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Sachin won the toss and elected to field, more as an attacking move as he wished to give his quickies first use of the slightly favourable conditions.
The ploy worked and soon Australia were 28 for 2 but a determined 41 from Mark Waugh who was under tremendous pressure to perform in his 99th test match and his partnership of 95 runs with Slater carried Australia to safety. Important contributions from all batsmen meant a final score of 405.
When India batted, the familiar record played on. 11 for 2 in quick time was the score when Tendulkar walked in. At 31 for 2 the departure of Rahul Dravid, who is having an Aussie nightmare, was a major blow especially as he had scored a hundred against Tasmania a few days ago....
Then onwards until the score reached 211 for 9, nobody moved from their seats except for a short break for tea during which time they witnessed an innings of unbelievable skill and patience from the master Sachin Tendulkar.
It is often said that during tests in the old days, when Sir Donald Bradman walked out to bat, the crowds started filling the stadium. No record shows how many people walked through the turnstiles after lunch (when Sachin entered) but it was a substantial figure.
The Tendulkar show was a great success. He played each ball of its merit and soon posted a fabulous hundred - his fifth against the Aussies and his third in Australia.
He batted with the calm and assurance of a master craftsman, certain of his powers and supremely confident in his own abilities. The Aussie crowd watched with bated breadth as he began scoring his runs, slowly at first, then more freely as he passed his half century. Incredibly he now has 23 fifties and 22 hundreds!
While he batted, it appeared that a different game was being played, the other batsman were hopeless and didn't deserve the opportunity to prove their incompetence in front of the master.
The bowlers and fielders were quick to remind the other batsmen of their incompetence to bat at this level. But when Sachin played they were forced to acknowledge that they were up against a heavenly body. No point in making a noise while the master worked - it would be a total waste of energy. It was only after he was out that the public realised they had to get a snack and a drink!
In between this brilliant bit of batting, the Aussies found a new star in fast bowler Brett Lee. Fast he was and furious as well. He attacked the body and toes of the Indian batsman, both wicket taking deliveries and was justly rewarded with a five wicket haul on debut, five for 47.
The Aussies bowled India out for 238, a lead of 167. In the second innings they scored 208 to set India a target of 376 to win, but realistically for the Indians, a minimum of 125 overs to save the game.
That was asking for too much considering the miserable form the batsmen were in. Unfortunately to make matters worse, Brett Lee broke Ramesh's thumb, the first of many worldwide I reckon. He didn't bat again.
Rahul Dravid seems to have lost confidence in his own ability and it showed. He managed 14, his defence was sound but he was ultra defensive which is not the best thing to do against an attack like the Aussies. His unlucky dismissal caught of the glove down the leg side was the beginning of the end.
Sachin again showed his class with 52. It is no wonder that Sir Donald Bradman said that the only player who has ever reminded him of himself is Sachin and the Australians agree as well.
To them, seeing Sachin score a hundred and a fifty and still see their country win, was like having the cake and eating it too!
Kanitkar batting well on debut for 45, but India were finally bowled out for 195, to lose by 180 runs.
Australia 1st Innings: 405 all out.
Slater 91, Gilchrist 78, Ponting 67.
Srinath 4 for 130, Agarkar 3 for 76.
India 1st Innings: 238 all out:
Sachin Tendulkar 116.
Brett Lee 5 for 47.
Australia 2nd innings: 208 for 5 wkts decl.
Agarkar 3 for 51.
India 2nd innings 195 all out
India lost by 180 runs.
Man of the Match : Sachin Tendulkar. Read more
- Arjun Raja in Dubai, UAEJanuary 1, 2000
The views of this column are the author's own, and do not necessarily represent the views of NRI Online.For a listing of past columns by Arjun Raja, please Know more.