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Rediff.com  » Sports » Slow and steady, Aussies lose the race

Slow and steady, Aussies lose the race

Last updated on: November 09, 2008 10:37 IST

Australia did not know what hit them until they realised the impact and ensuing pain.

After all, it is not everyday that one sees the World champions crawling for 85.4 overs and scoring just 166 runs for the loss of eight wickets. That too in a do-or-die Test.

Resuming Day 3 on 189 for 2, Australia were outdone by Mahendra Singh Dhoni's magic yet again. They were bowled out for 355 in their first innings after displaying one of their worst batting performances in recent times.

Opener Simon Katich, who scored 102, tried to defend his team's tactics of not trying to break free and letting the game drift in India's favour.

"We knew that we could get out trying to score. So we took the other option of waiting," said a visibly shell-shocked Katich, at the end of the third's play on Saturday.

"Well. Huss [Michael Hussey] and I were pretty content to try and wait it out, and then review it later in the day. Unfortunately, that didn't happen due to both of us getting out. When that doesn't come off, it doesn't look great. Had we been able to ride it out and get to the end of the day, scoring would have been lot easier towards. And we were hoping to not only draw level with India but also possibly go past tomorrow. Unfortunately that didn't come off," he added.

India fast bowler Ishant Sharma, however enjoyed an opposite feeling and showered rich praise on his fellow-bowling colleagues.

"Till now it feels good when two sessions have gone badly and against you, and to come back and have a good day. Not just one person but if the entire team is bowling well then it's a great feeling.

"Australia is the number one team in the world and if you concede just 166 runs after bowling nearly 85 overs in a day it is brilliant. Yesterday evening we tried some things which didn't work out and we conceded a few runs quickly. It is bound to happen with everyone. Today we didn't try too hard, just stuck to our basics," he said.

With just two more days and a vital lead of 86 runs in their pocket, there is no doubt that India will look ride on the momentum and finish off the Aussies in style.

"Obviously, we will play to win. We always want to win. Not just our team, but every team plays to win. Our efforts will be concentrated towards looking for a victory. It is better to win 2-0 rather than 1-0," Ishant added.

Australia have been on the backfoot for most of the four-Test series, making many wonder if this is the most defensive team from Down Under. However, Katich still sought to defend his team's ultra-slow tactics with the bat.

"You are kidding me, are you not? Were we the defensive team with an 8-1 field? You obviously don't understand the game," he replied, when asked why his team was so defensive with the bat.

Youngster Ishant said he was not surprised that the all-conquering was found wanting against a disciplined Indian bowling attack.

"Obviously, they are known as a very attacking team. If they are known as an attacking team, they are trying to do things but it can't go in their favour always. It went in our favour and that is very good for us."

"I don't think it was a negative line. You can see that some balls... Hussey and Katich got edges and it went through the hands. It happens sometimes. We have certain plans against every batsman. We went for a few runs the last evening and today we just were bowling in our right areas. It was all about building the pressure and bowling in the right areas. We were not doing anything else except that," he said.

A special word of praise was also reserved for debutant Murali Vijay, who accounted for two crucial run-outs, those of Matthew Hayden and Simon Katich.

"A young player making his debut, he was very active on the field. The way he handled himself and two crucial run-outs, the game turned in our favour there also. If you have two brilliant run-outs from your team, it is very good for us," said Ishant.

Our Correspondent