India proved why they are not number one

06 Nov 2009 by Mahendra Prasad in India vs Australia 2009 ODI Series

india_australlia_5th_odi-jpgThe heartbreak at Hyderabad will rankle the Indians just as much as the loss in the Chennai Test against Pakistan a decade ago. It was a match India should have won considering they had six wickets in hand and just over 50 to get. But they blew it away rather embarrassingly and the last few minutes of game proved why they do not deserve to be the number one team in the world. The frenetic running between the wickets was absolutely pathetic, and that is to put it mildly; Ravindra Jadeja’s run-out was symptomatic of the Indian effort, if you take out Sachin Tendulkar and the contribution Suresh Raina to an extent.

The defeat will once again raise questions regarding Sachin not being a finisher despite the fact that he scored more than 50 per cent of the runs in the chase. However, it was clearly the younger brigade which let India down. The fact that Raina doesn’t know how to pull has been demonstrated in his dismissals umpteen times, yet he keeps playing that fatal stroke at inopportune moments. And Thursday’s dismissal is one he would not like to remember, but one is sure he won’t be able to forget it soon considering it ended up costing India the match. Time and again, Raina has looked good enough to take India to the finishing line. However, he’s been a failure on most occasions.

Similarly, Jadeja had another great opportunity to become a hero, only to squander it away with some nonsensical play. His charge down the pitch when the ball hadn’t gone anywhere but straight to the fielder was a clear indication that he couldn’t handle the pressure out in the middle. And the Aussies pounced on him and every chance they got to mow down the Indians. Praveen Kumar’s six in the dying moments did give India hope. Unfortunately, the earlier batsmen had just left him with a little too much to achieve.

What hurt India most was there was only one partnership of note, which took them to the doorsteps of victory, but was broken just as the Aussies were beginning to run out of ideas. Virender Sehwag cannot be blamed on this occasion, since he had not option but to go after the bowlers right from the start. However, chasing such a mammoth target, India desperately needed at least two out of Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh and Mahendra Singh Dhoni to fire. That did not happen and if India still got so tantalizingly close to the target, it was only due to Sachin’s efforts. He has to ask himself though whether he needs such stressful times at this stage of his career.

India have now lost two consecutive matches chasing. Remember they came into the series with a strong batting line-up as their strength and have faced what can be termed as an efficient bowling line-up at best considering the number of injured players in the Australian side. This certainly doesn’t augur well for the home side. Their bowling too struggled at Hyderabad, however that had more to do with the pitch. The loss though has to be attributed to a total lack of mental application by the batters, especially towards the end when a cool head would have done the trick.

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