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Oh! What an opportunity missed

By K. Srikkanth

What an opportunity missed by India. Despite the Aussies displaying their usual fighting qualities, it was a match that was lost by India.

On the field, India put down so many catches, that I almost lost count. You just cannot afford to be so sloppy on the field against the World Champion.

Had the Indians held on to those catches, the Aussies would not have progressed beyond 180. Instead, the Indians allowed the Australians to reach a competitive score.

Then while batting, all that the Indians needed to do was to bat through the fifty overs. The match would have been theirs.

There was a lack of planning in the Indian innings. Building up of partnerships, which is a critical area in any chase, was also lacking.

Even if the pitch was assisting spin, you would not expect part-time spinners like Michael Clarke and Andrew Symonds to be among the wickets in such a big game.

The final is all about holding one's nerve and the Australians emerged better in that department. When it came to the finish, the Australians packed a punch.

The lack of resistance from the Indian lower order was deplorable. With Ajit Agarkar striking the ball well, all that the rest had to do was to hold firm at the other end.

The manner in which the Australians kept coming back in the match showed their great resolve. Take the case of Andrew Bichel.

He took punishment at the hands of the Indian batsmen, but produced a fine off-cutter to castle Sachin Tendulkar. This is what separates a champion team from the rest. When it matters most, they strike.

Left arm paceman Nathan Bracken once again turned in a brilliant spell and does seem to be a man with a bright future. He is hard to score against, and is at the batsmen all the time.

And the manner in which the Australians fielded showed what a determined bunch of cricketers they were. Nothing was given away.

It is indeed creditable that the Australians, who participated in the TVS tri-series with a second string attack, still managed to deliver in the toughest of conditions. It does say a lot about the side's character.

I feel sorry for the Indian bowlers who put up a fine display, but saw the fielders letting them down. Ajit Agarkar produced a good yorker to dismiss Adam Gilchirst and Matthew Hayden, who appeared to be out of sorts, perished early. Murali Kartik, like he has done in the other matches of the series, bowled quite beautifully.

Damien Martyn once again showed what a reliable customer he was in the middle order, and the manner in which he stroked the ball through the off-side did reveal his class.

I was especially impressed by the young Clarke, who produced the innings that made a difference. He is such a fluent stroke-maker that it becomes difficult to check the flow of runs from his blade. Clarke took little time to adjust to the pace of the wicket, which was on the slower side.

The Australians did show us why they are the World Champions. There is so much depth in the side, so many ready replacements on hand.

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