| Sourav Ganguly has always been a talented player with a great eye, feels Steve Waugh
Brisbane: Australian skipper Steve Waugh said on Monday his team would have to play some “excellent cricket” to get past their “evenly-matched” opponents.
“It’s going to be a very competitive series. It’s not going to be one-sided as both teams are evenly matched. It’s going to take some exceptional performances from a number of guys to win matches for their sides,” said Waugh.
Describing the drawn Gabba Test as a “50-50 match” for the two sides, Waugh predicted India would be a very difficult side to get past in the remainder of the Test series.
“It was probably a 50-50 Test match but Indians showed they are a quality side and we would have to play excellent cricket to win.”
Waugh said the final day’s play went as planned for them and that his declaration was also prompted by the absence of Sachin Tendulkar because of a stiff back.
“It was our plan to take the last four wickets, bat with purpose and then have a bowl at them for the last 20 overs. We did exactly what we wanted to and it was to finish off the match strongly.
“One of the reasons for our declaration was we knew Tendulkar was off the field. We took a couple of early wickets and if we had taken one or two more wickets, anything could have happened.”
Tendulkar was off the field for 48 minutes during Australia’s second innings and could only have batted after the fall of the fifth wicket.
Waugh also applauded Sourav Ganguly for playing probably his best knock against Australia.
“He certainly hit the ball very cleanly. He has always been a talented player with a great eye. When he hits the ball it generally goes for four. He scored his runs very quickly and it was a gutsy innings. We have our work cut out to stop those fours.”
Waugh was amused at the contrasting fortunes he enjoyed with the bat in this match, starting with a hit-wicket nought in the first and ending with an unbeaten 56 in the second innings.
“I was nervous when I came in (in the second innings). No matter how many Test matches you play, you are always nervous when you don’t have the runs in the first innings. I was a bit lucky in the second innings but thereafter played pretty well.”
Waugh said even though India would take a certain bit of confidence out of this match, it would be fair to say his side had batted under tougher conditions. “I thought we had the tougher conditions. When we batted it was difficult. Particularly the second day when it was going all over the place and jumping off a length.”
But Waugh was not at all amused with what the media had to say after the mix-up he had with Damien Martyn in the first knock led to the latter’s run-out.
“I wasn’t pleased to read what was written in the newspapers the next day. It was made to appear as it was a criminal offence. It’s a sport and mistakes do happen. Too much was made of the incident.”
Australia named an unchanged squad for the second Test with India starting in Adelaide on Friday.
Steve Waugh (captain), Matthew Hayden, Justin Langer, Ricky Ponting, Damien Martyn, Simon Katich, Adam Gilchrist, Andy Bichel, Jason Gillespie, Stuart MacGill, Nathan Bracken, Brad Williams.