Monday, Dec 15, 2003
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It was a magnificent fightback by the Indian batsmen on the third day at the Adelaide Oval. The Australians once again ran into the Dravid-Laxman combination.
Apart from the ability of the individuals concerned, partnerships are built on understanding and this is why Dravid and Laxman, who have been together since their junior days for the South Zone, have come good together so often.
That epic partnership between the two at the Eden Gardens in 2001 against the Aussies will forever be remembered. However, I would rate their stand in Adelaide higher because it was achieved in Australia, the toughest challenge for any visiting side.
The Indians were definitely under pressure after the loss of four wickets on the second day, but Laxman's delightful strokes took some of that pressure away and Dravid was solid at the other end.
Still India was not out of the woods at the start of the third day, and had the Aussies got a couple of quick wickets, they could have had the Indians on the mat. Dravid and Laxman batted positively and did not allow the Australians to gain a psychological stranglehold.
Laxman is at ease against both pace and spin and his timing is breathtaking. He has been in fine form for India ever since the beginning of the New Zealand tour, and his ability to play strokes even against good deliveries sets him apart. Happily for India, he is at his best against the Australians.
Dravid's record in Australia during the 1999-2000 series was ordinary and he must have been under some pressure after his failure at the 'Gabba. Australia was the only blemish in his otherwise outstanding `away' record, but now Dravid, just one short of a double hundred, has erased it. He carried on after Laxman's dismissal, which was very important since Australia could still have come back.
Sachin Tendulkar missed out again and looked tentative outside the off-stump in the initial stages of his innings. We saw that in the home series against New Zealand too when Scott Styris removed him with a similar delivery outside the off-stump in Ahmedabad.
Tendulkar is not playing his natural game, and appears too keen to succeed and build up a big score. Sourav Ganguly's run-out dismissal was unfortunate and the Indian batsmen would have to be decisive in their calling.
Finally, a word about the Australian bowling. Without Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee, the Aussie attack does not look menacing at all. The Australians, for a change, have problems on the bowling front.
By K. Srikkanth
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