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The Daily Star, Bangladesh 1st Super Six Match: Australia v India
Shakil Kasem - 4 June 1999

Beyond the boundary - Mean, Methodical And Mcgrath

India put on a show that defied all explanation. In fact, it was so comical that, except for Apple Singh, no one perhaps had any clue of what exactly was going on at the Oval yesterday.

Having won the toss, Azharuddin opted to field. It could remain as one of the unsolved mysteries of this English summer, why such a decision was taken. India's parliament may be fractured and divided, but the cricket team when it comes to committing harakiri seem united as one. Not being satisfied with putting a strong batting line up into having the first use of a user friendly batting wicket, India proceeded to tackle Waugh and Gilchrist with the most inept display of quick bowling seen this side of the Suez.

The first three wickets fell almost two hours after Azhar won the toss and took his decision, fatal as it turned out to be. It was no surprise really, that the part time bowlers got those wickets. The quickies failed quite miserably. Three quarters of the way into the Aussie innings, India had resigned itself to chasing whatever the Australians would put on the boards. By then the Australians looked well and truly on their way to a massive total. I did mention in my column yesterday what the scenario was likely to be. Although, I shall refrain from saying I-told-you-so, Mark Waugh did get his 80 plus and Australia were in excess of 280.

My predictions continued enjoying a purple patch when McGrath dealt the single most telling blow that sank India to the floor, for a count that all but knocked it out of this competition. The Aussies were in a hurry, because they actually won the match in the very first over. This is not a tournament that Tendulkar would want to remember with any fondness. He may as well start plotting his revenge. Of course, he has a few years in which to plot properly. The next World Cup is in 2003.

With Tendulkar gone early, the Aussies went headhunting in earnest. Dravid, Ganguly and Azhar were dismissed with an ease that was almost obscene to behold. Not all the hype and hoopla of the world could save India from disintegrating. The team that was supposed to be positive, hungry and destined to reach the final, were then brushed aside by the Aussies, who showed true grit and savage aggression in their approach to winning this most important of matches. They have not harmed their cause at all in the Super Six. Jadeja and Robin Singh prolonged the inevitable, as well as India's agony, but the outcome was never in doubt, after Azhar had inexplicably led his team out in the morning.

It was a sorry caricature of a match that could have reached great heights. It was not meant to be, after the Indian think tank blundered atrociously after the toss. It is a fact, Tendulkar holds the key to India's batting success. With him gone cheaply, it was a matter of time before the law of averages caught up with the two in-form batsman. Since nothing is going right for Azhar, he was not really expected to do much. India had somehow roared its way into the Super Six, what was surprising was why it should have bowed out with a whimper. Apple Singh could have the answer, but he was nowhere in sight. Azhar perhaps could have explained the whole comedy at the presentation ceremony, but I was too disgusted to watch.

Australia deserves all the breaks it has got so far, because it has the resilience and the collective ability to their put their performances where their mouths are. Getting an act together at the right time is not an easy thing to do. The Aussies have perfected it to a fine art. They batted well and, for good measure, bowled with a venom no snake charmer in India had the antidote for.

After all the Indian promises of the past few days, it was a sickening anti climax. Had it not been for the euphoria of the Bangladesh team arriving yesterday, cricket was at its lowest ebb. For the statisticians, Jadeja got the fifth hundred of this competition. Ironically, again by an Indian. More importantly, what a waste.

Source: The Daily Star, Bangladesh
Editorial comments can be sent to The Daily Star at webmaster@dailystarnews.com