Indian batsmen fail miserably

It was a memorable match for Adam Gilchrist who took six catches behind the stumps and made an unbeaten 79 to steer Australia to victory.-AP

Mitchell Johnson was enjoying his outing in the park, every dismissal lighting up his pleasant visage. He was on the ball even if the Indians were off it, writes S. Dinakar.

It was a memorable

There was a flow to Mitchell Johnson’s bowling that only comes with natural ability. At Vadodara, he was in a territory where mind, rhythm and skill blended into one. The Indians were beaten by a mile, undone by Johnson’s velocity and craft. They were pounded by high-quality pace, swing and cut from the left-armer.

Johnson was enjoying his outing in the park, every dismissal lighting up his pleasant visage. He was on the ball even if the Indians were off it.

Every delivery from the Aussie posed a question. Johnson, using the crosswind, swung the ball into the right-hander. And then, switching his line in a jiffy, he moved it away from the left-hander. He varied his length well and used the crease to create the angles.

The Aussie’s air-speed and swing meant the batsmen were probed relentlessly. A pitch of reddish hue favoured the spinners, but Johnson used the cutters — both off and leg — effectively. The dry, dusty surface, not properly watered, was not the ideal one for one-day cricket.

Johnson has improved his repertoire and is more versatile now. It was at the MRF Pace Foundation earlier this year he Johnson learnt the nuances of cutting the ball in the sub-continental conditions from Dennis Lillee.

With his fluent run-up and a whippy round-arm action, Johnson is not the easiest of bowlers to read. He can be skiddish off the surface and has a short-pitched delivery that can follow the batsmen, get him to fend off the chest or the shoulder. Not for him the wasted deliveries that soar over the batsman’s head.

He can follow the short-pitched sizzlers with scorching yorkers. If his five for 26 on a distinctly sub-continental pitch at the Reliance Stadium in the fifth Future Cup ODI is any indication, this Johnson is bound for glory. The match was going to end only one way after the host was shot out for 148.

Johnson was helped by the fact that senior pace spearhead Brett Lee sent down a terrific spell with the new ball and then bowled zestfully in his second spell. Lee caught Rahul Dravid plumb and at the crease with a swinging full length delivery in the first over.

Then, he returned to lure and snare a well-set Sachin Tendulkar with a teasing away going delivery in the corridor. Tendulkar, stroking fluently, promised more in his 400th ODI.

The game ended in a largely disappointing note for Tendulkar. He might have been responsible for the run-out of Sourav Ganguly as well, first giving a start and then turning back after the left-hander played Lee to mid-wicket.

India needed a start from its experienced duo, but the Australians had struck in the first over. That was the beginning of the slide.

Then Johnson assumed centre-stage. The in-form Yuvraj Singh, shaping for a cover-drive through the gap, was brilliantly caught by Adam Gilchrist who dived right to pouch an inside edge. Mahendra Singh Dhoni was well held off his gloves down the leg-side.

India had lost half the side for little over 50. Despite some resistance by Tendulkar and the lower order, there would be no comebacks for the host.

India had missed a gilt-edged opportunity after winning the toss. All it required was to see through the first hour with minimal damage and then the spinners could have entered the scene big time. This was also an afternoon when Gilchrist equalled the ODI record for the ’keepers (six dismissals). The Aussie, who first set the mark in 2000, has achieved the feat on five occasions.

Then Gilchrist belted the bowling in a 77-ball unbeaten 79 as the Aussies chased down the target with ease. Dhoni innovated by opening with Harbhajan Singh on a spinner-friendly surface but there was no stopping the visitors.

Johnson walked away with the Man of the Match award. The left-armer will be pushing for a Test spot in the near future. That’s not a good thought for the batsmen of the world.

A section of the crowd, angered by the Indian display, threw plastic water bottles into the ground. Such acts need to be condemned.

There were also allegations from the Australian camp that Symonds was racially abused by some spectators.