Will India’s test series victory over Australia help or hinder England?

First things first – what a fantastic performance from India to secure a 2-0 test series win over Australia. To dominate the best team in the world as much as they did is nothing short of incredible and they can’t be praised enough for their achievements.

As much as this was a victory they would have thoroughly enjoyed, there is no rest for the wicked as they say. India need to pick themselves up again as they take part in the first of seven One Day Internationals against Kevin Pietersen’s England.

The biggest question for me ahead of this series and the following two test matches is – will India revel in the confidence of the Australia series or will they struggle to motivate themselves for the next challenge? In other words, will India’s test series victory over Australia help or hinder England?

Help

There is no doubt that the Indian team will be emotionally rather drained after what was an epic series against the Australians. Some of their players may believe that the hard work of their summer is done – now it’s just England to take care of. The cricket odds will be heavily favouring a win for the home side, so perhaps they will underestimate the threat England possesses?

Motivation will also be an issue. Having just beaten the number one team in the world so convincingly – are they really going to be as fired up against a team ranked fifth in the world? Will there still be the same sense of determination?

England could very well be facing a team suffering a ‘post beating Australia’ hangover and they must capitalise on this. Starting in Rajkot tomorrow where Sachin Tendulkar will not be present as he is being rested for the first three ODI games. Another Australian series related advantage for England.

Hinder

As much as there could be a sense of ‘after the Lord Mayor’s show’ as far as India are concerned, they are also just as likely to use the momentum built up against Australia to really punish England.

They will field a very young side as they build for the 2011 World Cup and this will contain a number of talented and enthusiastic individuals. There is strong competition for places in the Indian team right now and every single one of their players will know that they need to perform to keep their place.

Something else the series over as Australia has done is renew the ‘feel good factor’ surrounding Indian cricket. The county is cricket mad at the best of times and now that the team in entering a new era by winning games – excitement and support is likely to be more significant than ever.

Perhaps we will learn exactly how things will pan out for India and England after tomorrow’s first game of the seven match series. If England emerge victorious, it could be a very tight series, although if India win – it could be a repeat of the 2006 series between the two teams when the hosts thrashed England 5-1.

By Thomas Rooney – A sports writer who blogs about cricket betting

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Krejza lifts Australian hopes in the final must win test

Jason Krejza will never forget his test debut regardless of whether Australia record a victory in the final test match of the series against India. This is because the spinner helped ignite Australian hopes of forcing a positive result by taking an incredible 8-215 in India’s first innings.

These are the sixth best figures ever by a test debutant and go some way to ending the concerns about Australia’s spinning options. Krejza will have a long and successful future in the game if he continues like this, after all.

The wickets taken by the 25-year-old couldn’t have been more crucial either. Despite him taking three of the first five Indian wickets to fall, the hosts were cruising at 422-5. Mahendra Dhoni had just reached his 50 and was sharing a brisk partnership with Sourav Ganguly until Krejza really turned it on.

The wicket of Dhoni for 56 signalled the start of India’s collapse. After the new skipper fell, so did Ganguly, to Krejza – just two balls later. The spinner then took the remaining three wickets to reduce India to a much lower than expected total of 441.

Critics will point to the fact that Krejza was smashed around the park at times by the Indian batsman. However, no-one can take this achievement away from him and no-one can underestimate how important his wickets were. At 422-5, India were cruising and all cricket odds expected them to reach 600 at least.

Had this been the case, not many cricket bets would have been placed on Australia forcing the victory that they need to square the series. What Krejza’s wickets have done is give Ricky Ponting’s side hope.

Of course, 441 is still a decent total in a first innings. Therefore it was vital that Australia responded in a positive fashion. Well, despite losing Matthew Hayden early on – they have done just that. Simon Katich is unbeaten on 92 overnight and he has been joined by Michael Hussey who is 45 not out. They will resume tomorrow on 189-2 and they really need to push on.

There is still three days remaining in this match and Australia must believe they can win it. They need to build up a first innings lead and maybe even aim to only bat once. Katich will obviously play a key role, but other than him it is important that at least one of Hussey, Michael Clarke or Shane Watson also records a century.

An intriguing third day lies ahead.


By Thomas Rooney – A sports writer who blogs about cricket betting

 

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Dhoni expects Australia fight back after drubbing in Mohali

Mahendra Dhoni has had worse test matches. Not only did the stand-in captain lead his side to an impressive 320-run victory over Australia, but he also received the man-of-the-match award after scoring 92 and 68 not out. Then, there was the small matter of the two catches and a stumping he achieved. Overall, it will go down as one of the best few days in his career so far. The player himself admitted that ‘nothing went wrong’ during the entire test match.

 

The victory in Mohali gives India a 1-0 advantage in the series with two matches to play. It also gives them the belief that they can dominate the best team in the world and they can intimidate them. Because that is exactly what they did from ball one of this test match. Ricky Ponting even stated afterwards that India ‘outplayed us in every aspect of the game.’

 

It wasn’t just Dhoni that can be proud of his performance though – every member of the Indian team contributed something. Gambhir, Tendulkar and Ganguly were all in the runs and all of the bowlers got their fair share of wickets. As team performances go, it really was superb. Dhoni even claimed that it was ‘one of India’s best matches in test cricket’. That is quite a statement to make, but when you thrash a side that has only lost once since 2005 – it is probably fairly accurate.

 

As for Australia, well they will be very disappointed with the way they performed. After the last test match, Zaheer Khan said that he didn’t think Australia could bowl India out twice and in all fairness to him – he could be right. The tourists bowling attack lacked that extra spark someone like Shane Warne or Glenn McGrath would provide. Confidence was low and in India’s second innings they looked drained and were seriously lacking in belief.

 

This then affected the batsmen in the final innings of the match as they were brushed aside for just 195. No batsmen looked like taking command and even when Michael Clarke and Brad Haddin gave them renewed hope late on day four, the latter was bowled by Zaheer in the first over of day five. It was then game over as far as the second test was concerned and in many people’s eyes as far as the series is concerned. The cricket odds are now heavily favouring India to go on and defeat this dwindling Australia side in the remaining two matches.

 

The Indian camp won’t be taking this for granted though. Dhoni has said that he expects to have a much tougher battle on his hands when the sides meet again next week. He says that Australia are ‘still the number on team in the world’ and that they will ‘come back strongly’ in Delhi.

 

All I can say is that they would have to come back very strongly if they are to eclipse and India side that will be on an all time high after one of the most convincing test match performances in recent years.

 

By Thomas Rooney – A sports writer who blogs about cricket betting

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India batsmen frustrate Australia in Bangalore

The first test match of the eagerly anticipated series between India and Australia is over and after five days of entertaining cricket, the teams go into tomorrow’s second match all square. Set a victory target of 299, the hosts reached 177-4 before stumps on the final day.

After the match there was criticisms aimed at both teams. First of all, Ricky Ponting claimed that Australia were ‘the only team trying to win the game’. This was because, in all honesty, India settled for the draw on day five. Sachin Tendulkar – who normally pushes the run rate along quite briskly – was extremely patient for his 49 off 126 balls. Then, VVS Laxman and Sourav Ganguly made sure of the draw with a rather cautious approach. Lazman in particular was very willing to ‘dead bat’ the ball.

Ponting is bound to be unhappy with this approach from the Indians. In all fairness though, what did he expect them to do? Go out to the middle all guns blazing and present Australia with loads of wicket opportunities? The cricket odds weren’t exactly favouring India to reach their target, so they were perfectly entitled to see it out for a draw. Especially after they found themselves 24-2 and then 77-3.

The Australians weren’t immune from criticism themselves though. Zaheer Khan – who helped India reach 360 in their first innings with an unbeaten 57 – claimed after the game that the Aussie bowling attack was incapable of taking 20 wickets in a test match. Zhan pinpointed the weakness of their spinning options and the fact that neither of their opening bowlers – Brett Lee or Stuart Clark – were particularly threatening.

These comments may be rather accurate, but it has to be recognised that this is just one test match. Australia were the better side throughout and their bowlers will improve in time. Yes, they miss the presence of a Shane Warne or Glenn McGrath type character – but they are capable of bowling out India twice. They will prove this at least once this series – I’m sure of that.

Looking ahead to the second test that gets underway tomorrow, this Australia bowling attack that we speak about has suffered an injury blow. Stuart Clark, the man currently ranked as the second best test bowler in the world, has an elbow injury and will miss the match in Mohali. A 23-year-old debutant in the name of Peter Siddle will take his place. Ponting describes him as a ‘no nonsense’ type of bowler and it will be interesting to see how he does.

Finally, there is one major incident to look out for in this second test match. Tendulkar needs only 15 runs in his two innings to overtake Brian Lara as the leading test run-scorer of all time. He is already the leading One Day International run-scorer and holds the record for amount of centuries in both forms of the game. Not had a bad career has he really?! I just hope he can mark his latest achievement with a glittering century to set the second test match between these two teams alight.

By Thomas Rooney – A sports writer who blogs about cricket betting

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Ponting hits century on day one, but India launch fight back late on

Ricky Ponting has an awful record in India. In fact, he averaged just under13 there prior to the series that got underway earlier today. Therefore, the fact that he has stamped his authority on day one of the series by recording his first ever century in India will be immensely pleasing for him. The gritty innings from the Australian captain helped his side reach 254-4 at stumps on the end of the first day.

After winning the toss and choosing to bat, Ponting was soon walking out to the crease. Matthew Hayden was caught behind off the bowling of Zaheer Khan in the first over of the match. Replays suggested that the opening batsman was rather unfortunate to be given out, but nevertheless – the pressure was now on Ponting to rebuild the innings.

Being the true cricketing great he is – Ponting did just that. His team needed him to produce the goods and all credit to him for doing so. After he and Simon Katich were joined at the crease, they put on a massive second-wicket stand of 166 to put the tourists firmly in charge of proceedings. It could have been very different though as Ponting was given the benefit of the doubt when hit on the pad after refusing to play a shot off the bowling of Ishant Sharma – who bowled a very aggressive and impressive spell.

Ponting and Katich complimented each other superbly during their partnership, with the latter happy to nudge and nurdle while his captain played a more positive innings. Just as they were looking as if they could take the game away from the Indians though, Katich fell to Sharma. With tea just around the corner, the left hander edged the ball straight into the gloves of Mahendra Dhoni. 166-2.

Michael Hussey came to the crease though and took over where Katich left off – he and Ponting were looking very comfortable. Ponting reached his 36th test century after the tea break and judging by his celebration, it was one he was particularly pleased with – who can blame him?

However, this is set to be a series with many twists and turns and India launched a fight back with a couple of late wickets to give them renewed hope of restricting the Aussies to below 400. With the score on 226, Ponting did something no one expected him to do – he made a mistake. He attempted to sweep Harbhajan Singh and when the ball struck his pad, he was given out LBW.

India then sensed a chance to grab another wicket and took the second new ball just before the close, hoping it could tempt Hussey or new batsman Michael Clarke into a costly mistake. Into the last over it looked as if Australia would make it to day two without any further casualties, but Clarke was trapped LBW by Zaheer in what turned out to be the last ball of the day.

So, although Australia will be happy with their days work, India will be very grateful that they managed to get two late wickets. The first session tomorrow morning is very important, that’s for sure. Cameron White – who is making his test debut – will join Hussey in the middle and India will fancy their chances of making the early breakthrough that could trigger a batting collapse from the tourists.

We will have to wait and see on this I suppose. As for day one, well it does belong to Ponting. It is a huge monkey off his back to get a decent score in India, and with it coming on the first day of the tour – I think lots of cricket bets will be placed on him leading the run-scoring charts for much of the series.

Thomas Rooney – A sports writer who blogs about cricket betting

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Ganguly given lifeline as Australia are dealt an injury blow

The test series between India and Australia may not get underway until next week, but it appears things could be going the hosts’ way already. Not only have they decided to stick with former captain Sourav Ganguly, but Australia have lost their number on spinner, Bryce McGain, to injury.

More about this injury in a minute, but first let’s discuss the call up of Ganguly. The 36-year-old has been named in India’s 15-man squad for the first two test matches and has been given a lifeline by the selectors. His highest score in the recent series defeat to Sri Lanka was 35 and there were calls for him to retire from the game. However, he has been included ahead of the likes of Yuvraj Singh, Aakash Chopra and Mohammad Kaif.

Many have predicted that Ganguly will be fighting it out with Subramaniam Badrinath – who is yet to play a test match – for the number six position. However, I don’t buy into this. The fact that Ganguly has been picked tells me that he will play. Something I would put a lot of my cricket betting money on though is the fact that Ganguly will retire should he fail to perform in these opening two games. I don’t think he will have it in him to launch another fight back should he be dropped again.

Ganguly’s selection means that he joins an Indian batting line-up which contains the vast experience of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman. These batsmen have played an incredible 480 test matches between them and they will look to dominate an Australian bowling attack that hasn’t played a single test match in India.

Speaking of the Australian bowling line up, they have been dealt a blow ahead of the first test. Bryce McGain – who was expected to be Ricky Ponting’s number one spinner on this tour – has picked up a shoulder injury and will definitely miss the game in Bangalore. There is even talk that he could be flown home should the problem persist.

It is a disaster for the spinner because at 36-year-old he was looking forward to making his debut after making a dramatic rise to international cricket. There is hope he will play some part in the series, but for now Ponting will have to rely upon Jason Krejza to provide the spin option for his side.

The cricket odds favoured an Indian victory before this news, so there is no doubt they remain favourites after this injury blow for the Australians. The first test gets under way a week today, so in my next piece for Past Point I will be going through the first day’s play. I can’t wait.

Thomas Rooney – A sports writer who blogs about cricket betting

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