After the 2011 One Day Internationals World Cup triumph, a lot was expected from the Indian line-up as they headed for a four match test series to Australia. A team of effervescent youngsters under a ‘cool as a cucumber’ captain, a degenerate Australian armada, and the stage, as many would say, was all set for India’s landslide victory down under. However as is so often the case, in the struggle between expectation and reality, it was reality that prevailed. The Indian batsmen found themselves on slippery soil throughout the tour, bowlers struggled to bag ten wickets succeeding only thrice in six attempts as India received a 4-0 thumping, including two embarrassing innings defeats. Now, in 2014, three years since the whitewash, once again its India vs Australia in Australia.
In sports, going by the book of numbers is certainly no better than chasing fool’s gold as odds are defied in literally every new encounter. Experience is a much more valuable asset in that regard. The most experienced of the lot, great Australian paceman, Glenn McGrath, with all his understanding is pretty much certain that this time around, numbers will do their bidding.
In mid-November, cricketing colours made their way into the political canvas, involving India and Australia. The Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi visited Melbourne in the concluding stages of his visit to Australia. Although Modi’s interests were primarily business and economy, but at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, one cannot possibly write a script without a chapter on cricket. The Indian Prime Minister was no exception. His breathtaking speech at the 161 year old Melbourne Cricket Ground was attended to by the likes of Glenn McGrath, Steve Waugh and Michael Kasprowicz. Earlier this year, Modi had also interacted with arguably Australia’s two most explosive cricketers, Adam Gilchrist and Brett Lee. Throughout the tour, he provided some interesting ‘take-home’ material for cricket lovers:
1. Modi mentioned that Indians celebrate the legend of Bradman and the class of Tendulkar together.
2. He mentioned that India and Australia are two countries where people can’t survive without cricket, the game is more of a religion. It binds the countries into one.
3. I would like to welcome Prime Minister of India, Namaste, welcome to Australia – Brett Lee, while welcoming the Indian Prime Minister.
4. At the end of his speech at the MCG, Modi said that his speech was “close to scoring a century here especially against Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee.
However all the diplomatic talk, business formalities and cordial greetings had little effect on McGrath’s rationale. The legend barely blinked before concluding that 4-0, in favour of Australia, was the most likely scoreline.
“The way the Australian team played last season over here, they were awesome. If they can get anywhere near that, they’ll win and win quite convincingly. I saw India play the last three Test matches in the UK and by the end of it, they were a bit of a rabble”. McGrath was convinced that Australia’s pace battery would be too hot to handle for India’s batting battalion. He was seemingly unphased by India’s ODI and T-20 dominance and was categorical in mentioning that the Indian team had a lot of room for improvement as far as the 5 day format went. In fact, according to him, the inherent weakness that Indians have on seaming tracks, with a bit of extra pace and bounce, would continue to haunt them throughout the four tests; and only a Herculean turn around in the technical department could defy the inevitable.
As the whole cricketing fraternity awaits this clash between two of the biggest forces in modern cricket, it would be a treat to see how the cricket eventually unfolds during the outing.
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