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banner Friday, 16 March, 2001, 10:58 GMT
Supermen turn mortal
Australian captain Steve Waugh
Steve Waugh must lift his team for the Chennai Test
Australian cricket fan Scott Henry tries to come to terms with his team's shock defeat in the Calcutta Test.

In the mid-90s, amid the greatest anti-Labour movement I can recall, Australia was embroiled in the giddy pre-election hysteria that is usually associated with a change of office.

The Liberal Party, raging favourites for election to federal government, decided the Goods and Services Tax (or VAT, in British vernacular), should be introduced as soon as possible.

And why not? It was the election they could not lose.

In the event, aided by a swing that Terry Alderman would have been proud of, the Liberals managed to lose.

I imagine that is how Steve Waugh and his so-called team of 'invincibles' feel right now.

Indian fans celebrate at Eden Gardens
The kangaroo lost its boxing gloves in Calcutta

After an unprecedented string of 16 Test victories, perhaps our proud heroes were entitled to be forgiven for a spot or two of complacency.

But many Aussie fans are not in a forgiving mood.

After seizing the initiative against India in the first innings, and forcing them to follow on, how did we contrive to lose the match?

Not only have Australia suddenly assumed a veneer of vulnerability, they stand in real danger of losing the series.

Now, it is game on for Sunday's third Test.

Die-hard Antipodeans would have liked it to be a dead-rubber that mattered little, but now it represents everything that this dominant cricket team has stood for over the past five years.

A win will seal the series and reaffirm to us Aussies all that is great about our game.

A loss or draw may revealt the truth we've tried to avoid - that this Australian cricket team are mere mortals after all.

The first Test in Mumbai validated the assumption that we are not only the best cricket team in the world but also the best sledgers.

VVS Laxman acknowledges applause from the crowd
Laxman's 281 was an incredible innings

In three days, the spoils of victory fell our way and the shame fell the way of the Indians. We won the game and we won the argument.

Things changed in the second Test. In India¿s crucial second innings, Sourav Ganguly's verbal bouts with Glenn McGrath did one thing - unsettle the Indian captain enough to sacrifice his wicket.

Then, with new pair Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman at the crease, a sense of slaughter appeared to consume the fielding Aussies and they lost the plot in the process.

Arrogance or complacency? Regardless, the Australians' so-called aura of invincibility has now been shattered.

Can they now shrug off the second Test as an aberration and carry on as normal?

One-one. The decider.

For once in recent history, Australia, the supermen of world cricket, find themselves on a level playing field.

Bring it on.

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