| Nathan Bracken has been a true revelation
It was Damien Martyn who took the day-night tri-series match in Mumbai away from India. Martyn is not known to be in the league of Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden or the Waughs. Nor does he figure in the first list of opponents’ team meetings. But after Saturday’s classic hundred, the Indian team better work Martyn out on the drawing board before facing him in future encounters.
Martyn played a luminous innings when his team was groping for a formidable total. His great footwork on a square turner helped him use the crease to play shots all around the park.
A strong off-side player, Martyn held the innings together till the very end and found an able partner in Michael Bevan to lift the Australians to the total they wanted. Bevan played his role of sheet anchor to perfection.
It is this batting depth which allows the two dreaded openers — Gilchrist and Hayden — to be so dominant and aggressive. The depth is in the presence of the Symonds, the Martyns and the Bichels. They can all win games for Australia on their own. And this is why the early dismissal of Hayden did not stop Gilchrist from wielding his magical wand at will. He appeared capable of hitting each and every ball, and was mainly responsible for scattering the Indian bowling.
Symonds, an old teammate from Gloucestershire, played a great little innings. A mighty six played over covers in the early part of his innings, conveyed the aggressive attitude and ability of this batsman.
The Australian batters just kept coming at the Indians. There is a relentless energy and conviction about the way the Australians play their brand of cricket. There is never any respite or any such moment when you feel you are in absolute control. Even when they appear down, they seem to attack you rather than defend nervously.
The gamble of opening the attack with Sehwag might not have worked but one has to understand and appreciate the innovative ideas of the Indian team.
A few decisions are made with respect to the wicket and also to bring about the surprise element to introduce a break in the predictable pattern. Indian bowlers might have looked off target, but it had lot to do with the way the world champions batted.
At times it just does not seem to work for the bowlers and I myself, having been in such situations, have wondered what has happened to the form which continued till the last spell' Or what went wrong even after going through all the hard practice sessions'
This feeling would only last until the next game where you get your line and length, along with a few wickets. Our bowlers are strong enough to make amends and ensure a quick comeback. On Saturday, only Agarkar had a decent spell, picking up four wickets.
With 280-odd on the board, it was never going to be an easy task for the Indian batsmen. The dew factor in the early evening helped the Aussie bowlers with the extra bounce and fair amount of swing.
Sehwag’s dismissal did not help the Indians in pursuing the required six runs an over. Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid did raise hopes, but it was soon swept away by the inexperienced Michael Clarke.
With the wicket turning square, it was quite difficult for the batsmen to come to terms with it. In the absence of senior bowlers, the Australian second string has operated exceedingly well on Indian wickets thus far. They held the Kiwis by the neck and bowled them out cheaply in Faridabad and continued the good work in Mumbai.
Nathan Bracken has been a true revelation. The tall fast bowler is making the most in the absence of the pace trio of McGrath, Gillespie and Lee. His ability to bring the ball into the batsmen has troubled all the openers in the tournament. He is the only bowler to have bowled consistently even in the slog overs.
Andy Bichel and Brad Williams have supplemented him well to fetch the world champions two straight wins after the Gwalior loss. Not bad for a side which was said to lack quality bowlers on this trip!
It is only true to say that the Australian cricket culture is so strong that the absence of key players has not really affected the side. The real test would come as the teams reach the final stages. The experienced versus the inexperienced — it could still be a telling factor.