It's do or die for Indians

It's do or die for Indians

Cricket: One-day series: Dhonis men need to win sixth one-dayer to keep the series alive

It's do or die for Indians

Riding piggyback: Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh and Virat Kohli in a playful mood during India’s practice session in Guwahati on Saturday. AP

It was a striking scene to see the duo checking the pitch and ground conditions meticulously before having a small parley with the ground staff.

It was, perhaps, a reflection of their professional approach, ability to focus on job at hand and ambition to stay ahead of their opponents. Those qualities have enabled Australia to stay ahead of India despite a spate of injuries to their impact players and take a 3-2 lead ahead of the sixth one-dayer to be played at the Nehru Stadium here on Sunday.

After nearly an hour the rest of the Australian team arrived at the ground, and they restricted their training to a session of Australian Rules Football, just enough to keep their bodies tuned to the conditions here and get a feeling of the ground.

But when the lens zoomed in on the Indian nets, the usual exuberance and entertaining pranks were missing, even bouncy characters like Harbhajan Singh  and Suresh Raina were noticeably quiet on the day. One might just get the feeling that the entire team was still struggling to cleanse their memory of that heart-breaking narrow three-run defeat in Hyderabad on Thursday.

But they will perforce have to approach morrow’s match with a fresh mind and renewed focus. Any failure in doing so will make them muted spectators of Australia walking away with a series win.

For that the Indians needed to look into a number of areas and that include practically every aspect of cricket. But the most important factor among those multiple issues is to increase the number of partnerships. If you take a look at the Australian batting card, their totals in this series have been built around consistent partnerships.

Even when they scored 350 in the fifth one-dayer, fifties of Shane Watson and Cameron White shone as brightly as Shaun Marsh’s hundred. But on the other hand, Indian scorecard presents rather anemic picture and the only time they managed to fire in unison was when they posted 354 in a winning cause in Nagpur.

It has much to do with the rather subdued shows from young guns in the side like Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja on whom there were a lot of expectations coming into the series. But their outings so far have not vindicated those anticipations. Raina has two fifties to his credit but the half-century in Nagpur came in almost a no-pressure situation when Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh had already battered the Australians.

Raina had a superb chance to emboss his name in golden letters, but the young left-hander threw his wicket away when he was batting quite beautifully in the company of Sachin Tendulkar.

Jadeja too offers a similar story. The southpaw has a crucial role to play while coming at number seven. While his bowling has been well above average in the series, batting, his primary occupation, has not touched the desired standards.
The Saurashtra youngster also displayed a disturbing tendency to bungle during running between the wickets. Jadeja’s run outs in Mohali and Hyderabad occurred at crucial times that made the difference between win and defeat for Indians. These two youngsters will have to put their foot on the pedal before the patience of the management wears thin.

From a team perspective, Australia have already showed their admirable on-field traits like guts and fighting spirit. So, the time has come for Indians to emulate the Australians, ironically, for a win against them.

The teams (from):

India: MS Dhoni (capt, wk), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Sachin Tendulkar, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Virat Kohli, Ravindra Jadeja, Harbhajan Singh, Ashish Nehra, Ishant Sharma, Munaf Patel, Praveen Kumar, Amit Mishra, Sudeep Tyagi.

Australia: Ricky Ponting (captain), Michael Hussey, Cameron White, Shane Watson, Graham Manou, Shaun Marsh, Adam Voges, Mitchell Johnson, Doug Bollinger, Nathan Hauritz, Ben Hilfenhaus, Jon Holland, Andrew McDonald, Burt Cockley, Clinton McKay.

Umpires: Asoka De Silva, Shavir Tarapore; Third Umpire: Sanjay Hazare; Match referee: Chris Broad.