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Indians will have to focus hard now

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EXCEPTIONAL PLAYER OF SPIN: Michael Clarke has been a huge factor in Australia’s success, taking the attack to the Indian spinners right from the first over.
EXCEPTIONAL PLAYER OF SPIN: Michael Clarke has been a huge factor in Australia’s success, taking the attack to the Indian spinners right from the first over.

Members of the side who still have their heads in the clouds must be brought down to earth ASAP, writes Steve Waugh

Things have clearly not gone well for the Indians in the first two games of this series. It’s early days yet, but when the opposition scores 300-plus against you in two successive innings, it’s something to be concerned about. They need to rethink their bowling and tactics and keep the intensity going on the field right through the 50 overs. If they manage to do this quickly, they might hit the road to recovery in Hyderabad itself.

India got a little over-excited in Kochi, when they had the Australians at eight for two. They got ahead of themselves, thinking the match situation, crowd and heat would get to the middle order batsmen. Unfortunately for them, the Australians are the most resilient side in world cricket, and once again, someone stepped up and took them to a very strong position.

Brad Haddin has had two good outings so far, once again proving that he would have played in almost any other side in world cricket. He is no flash in the pan cricketer, and but for the phenomenal Adam Gilchrist would have kept with distinction for the Australian team. His batting is very solid and even though he has hardly played in India, he has handled quality spin effectively.

Big worry for Dhoni

In fact, this has been one of the big worries for Mahendra Singh Dhoni over the last two games. The spinners are unable to build on the good work done by the fast bowlers during the power play. The result is that the Australians are not losing wickets between the 20th and 35th overs, which enables them to attack freely in the last 15 overs.

Harbhajan Singh usually bowls at his best against the Australians, but this has not been the case in the last two games. Perhaps the new faces in the side are approaching Harbhajan differently. It also helps to have Michael Clarke, an exceptional player of spin, in the middle order. He has not allowed the spinners to settle down and has attacked them right from the first over.

The Indians on the other hand have been unable to pick Brad Hogg’s wrong one so far. Hogg has been one of the most underrated members of this Australian side. He played a crucial role in the World Cup wins of 2003 and 2007, but is underrated as a bowler. In Australia, he has spent much of his career in the shadow of Shane Warne and Stuart MacGill, but when he has got the opportunity to play international cricket, very few batsmen have picked him off the hand. He is a great fielder to boot and has been one of the unsung heroes of the team’s incredible run in one-day cricket.

The conditions should have favoured India in Kochi, but it is the Australians who have gone ahead in the series. The Indians will have to focus hard, and members of the side who still have their heads in the clouds must be brought down to earth ASAP.

Ricky Ponting, who has an awesome record against the Indians, will be back to lead the side. India have a challenge on their hands, and it will be interesting to see how well they handle it.

Gameplan

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