The second test at Sydney has ended in four days, leaving Dhoni’s India losing by an innings and 68 runs, to Clarke’s Australia.
It wasn’t the margin of victory that rankled so much as the attitude of the teams in the fray. That attitude was best exemplified by the way the two captains went about their jobs. It can safely be said that Michael Clarke gave Mahendra Singh Dhoni a master-class in positive leadership.
What can you say about a captain who allowed the match to drift when two rival batsmen were striving to rebuild the innings after their side was reduced to 37/3. That is what Dhoni did when Ponting and Clarke got together in a partnership that eventually yielded 288 for the fourth wicket.
Dhoni, and India’s, lackadaisical attitude in the face of the Aussie fight-back was underscored when both batsmen got into their nineties. The Indian captain did nothing to add pressure on the batsmen to try and make it more difficult for them to get into triple figures. No fielder was brought into catching positions and it appeared as though India were trying to stem the flow of runs rather than attempting to take wickets.
Clarke caught everyone by surprise when he declared the Australian innings an hour before tea on the third day. There were several reasons why Dhoni wouldn’t have done the same thing. Firstly, there was plenty of time left in the match, and by batting till the end of the day, Australia would have been 600-plus runs ahead, ensuring that the hosts wouldn’t have to bat again in the unlikely eventuality of an Indian fight-back. Secondly, the Australian captain was batting on 329 and did not look like getting out any time soon, and could have easily scaled Lara’s record of 400 and surpassed it, especially against a by-then demoralised Indian attack. (Can you imagine record-crazy India declaring if Sachin or Sehwag or Dravid were on 329 not out at the same stage of the game?).
By declaring when he did, Clarke came of age as a captain. He made it clear that here was a skipper who put his team ahead of his own personal records. When India batted, Clarke did not let up even for a single over. He kept attacking even when Gambhir and Tendulkar were scoring at seven runs an over, on the fourth morning. And his perseverance paid off, when Gambhir’s wicket fell in the pre-lunch session.
When Sachin and VVS had added a hundred runs and more for the fourth wicket, and the new ball was a few overs away, Clarke introduced himself into the attack from one end, with Hussey bowling medium-pace from the other. Perhaps the intention was to rush through the remaining overs, before Pattinson and Hilfenhaus could attack with the hard new ball. But what actually happened was that it broke Tendulkar’s rhythm, and the little big man fell to the Australian captain’s slow left arm spin.
The back-bone of the Indian innings had been broken and with the new ball imminent, Australia sensed victory, which followed in due course. and the man who had made it possible was Michael Clarke with his positive captaincy.
About the Author (Author Profile)
Jinxatious is the Chief Editor of SportingAttitude.com
An avid writer, on an eclectic range of subjects, he brings to bear editorial experience garnered with a national newspaper in South-East Asia. He also has sportscasting experience, as a cricket commentator, and his passion for sport extends beyond Cricket, to Football, Tennis, and Olympic Sports.