ADELAIDE AND MELBOURNE: A TALE OF TWO CITIES

ADELAIDE AND MELBOURNE: A TALE OF TWO CITIES

It all happened in January. German giant Bayern Munich came to India to play a friendly match, providing Baichung Bhutia a perfect occasion to bid farewell to his illustrious career. India’s nightmare in Australia was complete with 4-0 whitewash. Australian open produced some scintillating games and newly crowned English cricket team found Saeed Ajmal and co. too hot to handle in the gulf.

For most of the sports fan In India, Australia provided two different games with different taste. Aussies were leading India 3-0 in the down under series and Australian open had just begun. Final test match was to be played in Adelaide and it was the last opportunity for Indian’s to salvage some pride. In Melbourne, Rod Laver Arena was ready to host season’s first grand slam. Unfortunately two different sto- ries unfolded in Adelaide and Melbourne. Anybody who watched the two games realized Rod Laver arena was where gladiators were fighting not in Adelaide.

It is almost impossible to compare two different games-“Cricket and Tennis,” yet Australian Open provided some similarities. Before going to the series Rickey Ponting hasn’t scored a century for nearly two years. Roger Federer had last won his grand slam nearly two years ago. Like Ponting, Federer is also frequently questioned whether he is nearing his end. Like Federer, Australia denied another great man his elusive hundredth hundred. They all knew one more failure meant facing more uncomfortable questions from fans and critics.

While Rickey Ponting scored a hundred in nearly two years to save his career and silence his critics, Federer and Sachin were agonizingly close but faltered at the last moment. However, unlike Sachin, Federer will go back home with head held high as he was in- volved in a classic match with his old nemesis Rafael Nadal in one of the grueling semifinals.

In many ways Australian open was memorable and team India can learn a lesson or two from them as well. The epic final itself was the longest in any grand slam, lasting almost six hours. Prior to the final Novak Djokovic had a five set match against Andy Murray in the semifinals and only a day to rest before he faced relentless Spaniard Rafael Nadal. Even in the semifinal Djokovic was stretched to his limit, often engaged in long rallies to win a point, which lasted almost five hours.

Australian open also highlighted how physi- cal and mental attributes can transform a player signifi- cantly. Both Rafael Nadal and Djokovic are classic ex- amples of these two. Not only they are supreme athletes but mentally they are tough nut to crack.

During the final both players opted to play from the baseline and often Djokovic dropped the ball few inches inside the baseline to neutralize Nadal’s powerful forehand. He did it consistently throughout day. the game. A couple of years ago he was missing all this crucial points and wasn’t a threat to either Nadal or Federer. But rigorous hard work and mental toughness made him altogether a different player now.

Perhaps these are the small changes which made him the no I player today. Other- wise when Federer-Nadal rivalry was going on, two other players were threating to end their rivalry “Andy Murray and Djokovic.” Unfortunately for Murray he is yet to bring the jinx. But the kind of progress Murray has done over the years, day. he is sure to win a grand slam some-

Perhaps Indian team can learn few les- sons on athleticism from their tennis counterparts. They can learn it from Leander page also, who created history by becoming the first Indian to complete a career Grand Slam by winning the Australian Open men’s doubles title.

Throughout the test series body language of the Indian team was pity. While Aussies saved every run and transferred ones into twos and ran every run hard, Indians allowed them to rotate strikes. Thus didn’t allow bowlers to bowl to a batsman for longer period to build any kind of pressure. Compare to Indian bowlers who didn’t have much support from their fielders, Aussies bowled maidens and lot more dot balls to create pressure on the batsman. Another contrast when there was a partnership building up Indians resigned early, their shoulders dropped, while Aussies remained agile and always asked uncomforting questions.

sport physical fitness along with mental strength are two key attributes for a sportsperson to achieve greater heights. One of the reasons why Indians are not doing well in different sports is the absence of athleticism in our sportspersons. Be it Hockey, Tennis or Cricket our sportspersons seldom com- pete with top athletics from other continents. Sport is not only entertainment but big investment so it should be taken seriously.

So the next few weeks Indians will be playing ODI’s and T20, while their next away test series is quite a few months away. It is time for Indian’s to do some soul searching. In the meanwhile English team has just found playing quality spin has remained a headache for them. To claim no I spot and to hang onto it are two different things, Pakistan has just taught Englishman that lesson.

 

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