The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Eyes on win and weather
- Sourav focuses on work ahead, thundershowers forecast
Four in fist: Kumble, who took four wickets, after Ricky Ponting’s dismissal. (AFP)

Sydney, Jan. 4: Not many hours after Team India registered an all-time high of 705 for seven declared in the decider at the SCG, Australian opener Justin Langer paid a handsome compliment.

“We need to learn from the Indians. Their patience, the application, their great technique. Really, throughout the four Tests, their batting has been awesome,” Langer, who has himself taken two centuries off the Indians (including one today), pointed out after stumps on the third day.

In fact, Langer conceded that for the first time in his 11-year career, his mind was on “batting time and not getting runs”. As he candidly put it: “It’s never happened before, it’s something we aren’t used to. But, this afternoon, Matt (Matthew Hayden) and I began with playing out time being our objective.”

Interestingly, Langer’s debut was in the series Australia last lost at home — versus the West Indies, in 1992-93. And, when was the last time that 700-plus runs were conceded' The answer goes back seven decades. Little wonder, then, that Langer talked about not being used to...

Cut to the present and unless Simon Katich plays the innings of his life, Australia is on course to concede a huge lead (despite a pep talk from Martina Navratilova) and head towards defeat. Even if a draw is forced, the Border-Gavaskar Trophy will remain with India.

It’s to be seen whether the follow-on is going to be enforced — assuming Sourav Ganguly gets that option — but the picture is quite dismal. Ironically, in the farewell game of Steve Waugh, universally credited with having carried Australia to a different level of Test cricket. Actually, it’s turning out to be a bizarre good-bye.

Even as the Australians resume on 342 for six, the Indians are going to follow the weather bulletins with interest. It began raining late tonight and thundershowers are forecast for the final afternoon. Tomorrow, it should be cloudy.

“The weather factor is there, but we must close the Australian first innings before anything else comes into play. Yes, there’s already some excitement, but I’m telling the boys not to look too far ahead. Work remains to be done,” Sourav told The Telegraph.

After another excellent day in office, and with an unprecedented series win a distinct possibility, the captain had reasons to smile. The success of 19-year-old Vadodara schoolboy Irfan Pathan, who produced two telling deliveries, made that smile broader.

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