| A common sight of Australians celebrating victory. (A file picture)
Sourav Ganguly and his team were made to sweat and had to call on all their experience to come out on top in their World Cup Super Six match against Kenya, and this without any meaningful contribution from Sachin Tendulkar. That in itself is a positive outcome. The fact that Sourav himself had to make the bulk of the runs was the most positive result for him and the team.
It is not often that both sides can say they got something positive out of a cricket match, but both India and Kenya will be happy with their performance in Cape Town Friday.
Kenya will have wanted to win the game after having India in early trouble, but Steve Tikolo and his band of merry men once again put on a brave show, though in the end the better team won. Had some of the more fancied teams shown the same commitment and joy of competing that this enthusiastic bunch has done they might still be in the competition.
Rahul Dravid and Yuvraj Singh also got some useful time in the middle and helped the captain ensure India avoided any embarrassment on their way to the semi-finals.
As each game goes by, India look the most likely opponent for the Australians who made reasonably short work of Sri Lanka in the other game played at Centurion. Adam Gilchrist and Ricky Ponting did the heavy work as they methodically destroyed the Sri Lankan bowling attack on a beautiful batting wicket.
Kumar Sangakkara made a difficult job even more difficult for his bowlers by making a mess of a stumping and a run out. As if it isn’t hard enough to beat the Australians without offering two of their best an extra innings.
Once again, the depth of the Australian talent pool was on display as the team effort crushed any hope of the Sri Lankans causing an upset. If anyone beats the Australians it will seem like an upset because they seem so poised and assured.
Australians have a gameplan that they stick to come what may and even if they get under pressure the collective will is so strong they can extricate themselves from nearly any situation.
No matter how many runs you might make, they believe they can get one more. No matter how few runs they make they expect to bowl you out for one less.
This was how it seemed against the great West Indian teams under Clive Lloyd. If it wasn’t their fast bowlers battering you then their batsmen would intimidate your bowlers.
When asked how best to bowl to the likes of Greenidge, Haynes, Richards, Lloyd, Kallicharan and Rowe, Gary Gilmour replied, “with a helmet on”. The current bowlers must feel the same about Gilchrist, Hayden & Co.
Add to this their often brilliant fielding and the Australians must seem invincible to most teams who come up against them. This aura which the Australians have built up around themselves is often enough to intimidate the opposition who tend to worry more about what the Australian team is doing rather than focusing on what they need to do to put pressure on them.
It will take a tough team to put the Australians out of their mind and work on the process required to beat them rather than worry about the outcome.
A batsman who worries about the outcome cannot watch the ball with the intensity required to play well and the bowler who worries about going around the park is sure to.
The coaching job of all who come up against the Australians is best to focus the preparation on what their team needs to do rather than spend too much time on the Australians. A simple gameplan is required. Too much finesse will only serve to confuse his players. This in turn will help the Australians.
Some ‘old fashioned cricket’ is what is required. Especially when bowling. The objective should be to bowl as ‘tight’ a line and length as possible without too many frills. If you try to get too fancy you are bound to bowl some bad balls. Any variation should be to the pace rather than to line and length.
If a bowling team can bowl with discipline to these simple rules they are more likely to have success. At least if the Australians have to take risks to score their boundaries the odds must be greater that wickets will be taken. The other thing is to minimise the errors of extras such as wides and no balls. These are things that are in your control.
So is fielding. A commitment to a full effort for 50 overs is essential. Some good saves and holding your catches will be a great assistance to the bowlers.
An equally simple batting plan is also required. This can vary slightly depending on wicket conditions on the day. Again, it is important to concentrate on the things you can control rather than worry about the outcomes.
Have a plan for each bowler and work the plan. Sometimes that means controlled aggression. At other times it may be to take four or five runs an over with minimal risk. It is not ‘rocket science’ but it is necessary if you want to have consistent, rather than intermittent, success.
This is what New Zealand did against Australia in Australia last summer and is what is going to be required by anyone who hopes to beat them on, or before, March 23. (PTI)