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banner Saturday, 10 March, 2001, 08:57 GMT
India in downward spiral
Former Indian spinner Bishan Bedi
Indian Test legend Bishan Bedi offers his thoughts on their chances in the second Test against Australia.

Indian cricket is sinking and palpably so.

Not like the historic Titanic, but more like a dry autumn leaf, which is bereft of any destination.

The sad part is that no sensible prescription is remotely on the minds of Indian players or the selectors, individually or collectively.

We see no brain in Indian cricket to set against the well-oiled machinations of the Australians, who are not a great side if measured individually.

Steve Waugh and his men are a hardened bunch of professionals who have made winning a laudable habit - not by chance but by design.

After the debacle at Mumbai, India had one practice game in Delhi to redeem themselves. Rejuvenate would be more apt.

Sourav Ganguly batting for an Indian Board President's XI
Ganguly dodges a bouncer

The Indian captain, Sourav Ganguly, decided to throw all conventions out of the window and took upon himself to lead the Board President's XI.

The plea was that he needed some practice against the visitors. On the face of it, the move had substance, but very little conviction.

The intensity of Ganguly's involvement could well be compared with a reluctant schoolboy, who simply hates the weight of his school bag.

It was hoped that Indian captain would make a deliberate attempt to stay at the wicket and lift his self-confidence, as well as his own self-esteem. No such emotion was on display.

Team spirit goes a long way

A scratchy innings was followed by a thoughtless selection meeting and then a long rest in the dressing room, while all the Aussie batsmen who needed batting practice made the most of it even though the game ended on a drab note.

Had the Australians wanted to win, they would have done that effortlessly, but physical workload would have taken its toll.

Very sensibly, the Australians had to two back-to-back tests in Calcutta and Chennai on their minds.

Steve Waugh throws flower petals on children in Calcutta
Waugh meets local children in Calcutta

Discretion became a better part of their valour, and to hell with pleasing the crowd.

If Ganguly was not interested in fielding, nor were the Aussies and rightly so.

In cricketing terms, there is not much to choose between the two sides.

If anything, the most outstanding individual sits in the Indian dressing room and the Australians are truly wary of him. Sachin Tendulkar is his name.

Alas, Sachin alone cannot match the combative spirit of this vibrant Australian team.

As I see it, the most significant difference between the two teams is 'body language'.

I have observed Steve Waugh and his men from close quarters in the dressing room, which is a very happy and healthy spot.

He has a good team of helpers, who simplify professional sport to the maximum.

Waugh himself is no laughing matter. He earns the respect of his colleagues, unlike his Indian counterpart who only wishes to command from a pedestal where survival itself is pretty tough.

Honestly, it is beyond me to suggest how the Indians will come back into the series.

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See also:

09 Mar 01 |  India v Australia
Slater receives Test ban
07 Mar 01 |  India v Australia
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06 Mar 01 |  India v Australia
Agarkar blow for India
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