India's chance to be No. 1 takes a nosedive

After India's demoralising loss in Guwahati, the Battle for Number One is no longer a battle.

updated: November 09, 2009 14:34 IST
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New Delhi:

After India's demoralising loss in Guwahati, the Battle for Number One is no longer a battle. With the six-wicket win, Australia repeated their feat from 2007. India must be left wondering how a team so injury-plagued could upset the genuine favourites in their own backyard.

The Australians have every reason to celebrate. They came to India as second favourites; they barely had 11 fit men at times, and they faced a real danger of losing the number one ODI spot. But on Sunday, all those worries vanished into the Guwahati evening.

"Probably one of the best series wins I've been involved in. With all the series win and injuries we've been involved in and for the boys to stick together as a group and for the guys to stick together has been very satisfying," Australian captain Ricky Ponting said after their win.

Satisfying because the 4-2 series score line was in spite of these five players falling to injuries during the series. No Brett Lee, no Peter Siddle, and there was certainly hope for India.

What further compounded the issue for the visitors was this list of those who hadn't even travelled to India including vice captain Michael Clarke. India must be ruing their failure at grabbing what was truly a golden chance.

Says Indian captain MS Dhoni, "Games in which we didn't do well, majority of the batsmen didn't score well. If you look at the batting line up, the majority of the batsman hadn't contributed. So, that's where we didn't do well, we were lacking that."

Ironically, that was considered India's strong suit. Australia's weakness was their inexperience, but with Doug Bollinger topping the bowling charts and the likes of Cameron White and Shaun Marsh coming good to the bat, the disadvantage disappeared. And it's also gives an indication of just how resilient the Aussie approach can be.

"All the younger guys who've come in to the team have got some games under their belt now... as I said we've been building towards the world cup, which will be here, it's similar conditions and all our younger guys have learned a lot through this tour," says Ponting.

While for Australia, the satisfaction of winning would have been made sweeter by the fact that it was a second string bowling attack that did the job for them, but for India there are lot of questions as to why its famed batting line-up failed or why they just couldn't deliver the finishing blow in close games.