A WALK IN THE PARK FOR THE AUSSIES

Glenn Mcgrath excelled with the ball, getting rid of Sachin Tendulkar with a beauty.-S.SUBRAMANIUM

It was smooth sailing for Australia as the Indian bowlers failed miserably at Mohali. A report from VIJAY LOKAPALLY.

The drooping shoulders of the Indian cricketers presented a pitiable sight for the thousands of fans who had thronged the PCA Stadium in Mohali.

Rahul Dravid stood helpless in the slips, as did Sachin Tendulkar, watching their team being decimated by the well-controlled aggression of the Australian batsmen.

The defeat was shattering, no doubt, but it was also an eye-opener to the future. This Indian team was an over-rated combination, capable of excelling only when the opposition played below its potential.

Skipper rahul dravid is not known to make excuses. He likes to put up a brave front, defending his colleagues without exception. But he too conceded, "We are not playing good cricket."

Well, it was an understatement because India's performance of late has been dismal. "Young and inexperienced," was how Dravid described his fast bowlers after they let the side down with some awful stuff.

The basics were forgotten as Irfan Pathan and Munaf Patel tried too hard to make an impression on the Australians. That they failed to make an impact only underlined their poor assessment of the situation.

A target of 250 was competitive by any yardstick. "We fell 20-25 runs short," observed Dravid but the Aussies would have made that too on that night. The Indians could neither bat nor bowl and all the tall claims of the team being a good fielding side were hardly justified.

"We need to look into our fielding on big grounds. Some of us don't seem to have strong arms as others," confessed Dravid, who put up a decent batting performance along with Virender Sehwag and Mohammad Kaif.

Yet again there was shuffle in the batting line-up. Dinesh Mongia was preferred to Kaif for the number three slot. The absence of Yuvraj Singh put pressure on the middle order. Glenn McGrath got rid of Sachin Tendulkar with a beauty. The ball just moved a bit and induced a forward defensive prod by the batsman who did not look convincing at all.

Sehwag played a plucky innings and Kaif managed a few runs. Dravid batted with his customary style and added substance to the team's total. India had suffered from its recent batting failures but the team's score at Mohali was quite competitive.

It was the turn of the bowlers to falter. Pathan and Patel sprayed the ball to give away some easy runs to Adam Gilchrist and Shane Watson. Dravid struggled to set the field as runs came at a rapid pace. The spinners too made no impact as Australia raced to the target on the strength of its batting depth.

Ricky Ponting and Damien Martyn made a mockery of the attack and what seemed a competitive total did not even test the Australians at any point.

"They had a very inexperienced attack," said Ponting on the wayward Indian bowlers. He underplayed his own half century and gave credit to Martyn, who picked up his second Man of the Match award in as many matches. His batting has a silken touch and the authority with which he placed the ball on the off spoke of his calibre.

The Australians were far superior in all the departments and the convincing victory only highlighted the difference between the two teams. India has many, many miles to go before it can even think of matching the high standards that the Australians have set themselves.

THE SCORES

Mohali, Chandigarh, October 29, 2006. Australia won by six wickets. India: V. Sehwag lbw b Johnson 65; S. Tendulkar c Gilchrist b McGrath 10; D. Mongia c Hussey b Watson 18; R. Dravid c Clarke b Lee 52; M. Kaif b Lee 30; M. S. Dhoni lbw b Bracken 28; S. Raina c Watson b Bracken 13; I. Pathan c Martyn b McGrath 10; Harbhajan Singh (not out) 5; Extras (lb-5, w-9, nb-4) 18. Total (for eight wkts. in 50 overs) 249. Fall of wickets: 1-46, 2-89, 3-126, 4-186, 5-197, 6-224, 7-239, 8-249. Australia bowling: Lee 10-1-54-2; McGrath 10-1-34-2; Bracken 10-2-56-2; Johnson 8-0-33-1; Watson 9-0-48-1; Symonds 3-0-19-0. Australia: A. Gilchrist c Raina b Sreesanth 23; S. Watson lbw b Mongia 50; R. Ponting c Tendulkar b Sreesanth 58; D. Martyn (not out) 73; A. Symonds b Pathan 20; M. Clarke (not out) 2; Extras (lb-8, w-18) 26. Total (for four wkts. in 45.4 overs) 252. Fall of wickets: 1-61, 2-111, 3-185, 4-230. India bowling: Pathan 7- 0-42-1; Patel 8.4-0-61-0; Sreesanth 8-1-43-2; Harbhajan 10-0-49-0; Mongia 9-0-36-1; Sehwag 3-0-13-0.