For the last one and half months, cricket fans around the world got to see one of the best test series ever involving two great test playing nations. The Border – Gavaskar Series 2008 was exciting not just because the Indian won the series 2-0, but it also put an end to Australia’s dominance in World cricket. More importantly, India seems to have combined high energy, great motivation levels, team combination and the urge to perform under its new captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and coach Gary Kirsten.
Turning Points and deciding factors
According to me, the folowing were the turning points of this series that took things in India’s favour.
- Excellent opening stands in almost all tests by Sehwag-Gambhir as well as Sehwag-Vijay combo
- The partnership between Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh, in the drawn Bangalore test, when Australia was on top. India managed to save the first match, just like the rain hit first test in the 2003 series down under, where the draw inspired the things to come
- Kumble sitting out in the second test at Mohali, Mahendra Singh Dhoni taking the reigns and inspiring the team to a win. Dada proved why he’s a fighter yet again! Amit Mishra, the debutant, ran through the Aussies lineup with a Fiver in the first innings. An allround bowling performance in the second innings proved too much for the Australians
- The Delhi test will only be remembered for batting feast and Kumble’s retirement. I personally thought that he should not have played that match but gracefully retire when Dhoni showcased his leadership skills!
- Fab 4 one last time together, in the fourth test, proved too much for the Australians after a Dhoni led team decisively beat the Australians. Ponting’s decision to continue with his part timers to escape a match ban cost him the test and the series!
- The ‘lucky’ Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni winning all his tosses meant that there was no stopping for India. Toss is a real decider in the Indian conditions, so…
What was the difference between the sides?
Barring the injured Anil Kumble and out of form Rahul Dravid, it was really an excellent series show by Team India. India’s bowling attack was versatile and almost all the time pinging for wickets. Batsmen and all-rounders backed up each other and performed as a team. Dhoni’s leadership by example was a treat to watch and so was the spirit within. The only improvement area, perhaps, is the ground and slip fielding.
Australia on the other hand were marred by their poor team selection, especially in the bowling department. Their speedsters could not reverse swing the SG balls and their spinners were not causing any major challenge to the Indian batsmen. Australia’s major batsmen really did not click nor were they consistent. This added additional headache to the bowlers.
Ponting’s captaincy was below par as well and he even showed his personal grudge against own team mates on and off the ground.
Phasing out the old warhorses one by one and inducting the right people at the right time is something India is doing great and it is really working (at least within India). Australia on the other hand is still struggling in the bowling department after improper succession plans once McGrath and Warne were out.
Another learning is that the Australian team right now is just like any other team and they can be beaten by anybody. They may regroup and try to attack the way they used to do, but the skills do not seem to be the same anymore.
Two stalwarts going out
And for the stalwarts – Anil Kumble and Sourav Ganguly – that are going out, I will be dedicating separate posts soon…