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A world of difference between Australia and the others
Sunil Gavaskar

All those who nurtured the hope that the Australians would have a bad day at the office were left disappointed in the end. Nobody from the Australian team took sick leave, privilege leave or casual leave as they went about their work in real earnest to stamp their authority on the game and show the rest of the cricketing world who was the boss.

That, the number nine, ten and eleven never had to bat even once in the entire tournament indicates how good the top order did its job. There was invariably some batsman or the other who played a capital innings to ensure there was never any tension in the dressing room. It was not just the runs that they got but the manner in which they got them that left the opposition flummoxed and bamboozled.

It was deliberately done to destroy the spirit of the opposition and to not even let them have a sniff in the game. Even Ireland was not spared. So what if they are minnows? They were shown what a world of a difference there is between their game and Australia’s cricket. It was jaw dropping stuff and the standard and intensity at which the Australians played this World Cup begs the question whether there is any team that is capable of coming anywhere near them in the foreseeable future.

South Africa, who had displaced them as the number one team in the ICC rankings just before the World Cup began, were the ones who fancied their chances, especially after their memorable chase of the Aussie target of 434 the previous year. New Zealand too were on a high after their 3-0 win in the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy and England who had beaten them in the Tri Series were also looking confident with the return of Kevin Pietersen in their ranks. Read moreread more

 
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In the end, they were only blips on the radar, as the Australians blew them away in their group matches or Super 8 encounter. The South Africans had given a hearty chase of the Australian total in their group game but in the semi finals found that pre conceived plans count for nothing against the Aussies who have the enviable ability to adjust and adapt to the situation. As soon as the Australians realised that the South Africans were going to rush down the pitch to their new ball bowlers, he line and especially the length, was changed to defeat that.

To see Graeme Smith the South African skipper and Jacques Kallis swishing at thin air and missing the ball and losing their stumps showed what a suicidal tactic it was. The game was over before the spectators had settled down and showed that the Aussies have a counter for anything that the opposition springs upon them. The middle overs are crucial and here the Aussies were well served by Brad Hogg who mixed his googly very cleverly and had good players of spin like Jayawardene searching for the turn.

Sri Lanka looked confident in the finals till Gilchrist recaptured his form. There is no doubt that after he finishes with cricket, Gilchrist will be a good player in golf. His bat swing is so natural that even good deliveries are taken on the rise and hit into the stands. It is a special ability and makes him a player to be feared, for irrespective of form, the bowler is aware of it and is thus already unequal before he bowls to Gilly. That’s what happened even to the experienced Vaas as he was bewildered as to what line to bowl after Gilly took after him.

 The Lankans were by far the best team in the tournament after the Australians, for they had a well balanced side. The batting was aggressive and in skipper Jayawardene and Sangakkara, they had batsmen who could play according to the situation. Chamara Silva shows potential of being an exciting batsman and Dilshan was fiercely competitive as always.

 The other sides in the tournament had their moments, especially Bangladesh and Ireland. The Bangladesh team beat India and South Africa but then went on to lose to Ireland and showed that there is inconsistency in their game. Ireland caught Pakistan on a dodgy wicket and held their nerve to record their finest win. The passion with which the Irish played was to be seen to be believed and if only other Test-playing countries showed a fraction of that then they could raise the level of their game and be far more competitive.

 Tempered aggression, unbridled passion, great determination and unflinching self-belief were the characteristics of the Australian team. It will be a long long time before any team comes anywhere close to the World Champion. Till then, let’s enjoy the champions and raise a toast to them.

(PMG)

 
 
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