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Mark Waugh leads Australian fightback
Rajesh Kumar - 22 March 2002

After his side’s determined effort to breach the “final frontier” was thwarted by a few inspired individuals, Steve Waugh found it difficult to contemplate the five-match one-day series that lay ahead. “We're too physically and mentally tired to contemplate them, but we know they're just around the corner, and we'll have to lift ourselves for those,” a candid Waugh said. Despite the revolutionary ice vests and their famous ice-cool temperament, the sapping Indian heat and the most famous of Indian Test series wins had seemingly knocked out the Australians.

The first one-dayer between the two sides at Bangalore only served to confirm this. Aggressive fifties from Rahul Dravid (80), Virender Sehwag (58) and Vijay Dahiya (51), along with steady contributions from the rest of the Indian top-order, saw the hosts pile on a massive 315 before being dismissed with just a ball to spare. Even the relentlessly accurate Glenn McGrath received a pasting, going for 60 runs in his 9.5 overs. Shane Warne, who yet again had a forgettable tour of India, had relatively better figures - his 10 overs yielding 58 runs.

When Australia replied, Matthew Hayden proved impressive yet again, making 99 off just 90 balls before being ruled out lbw to Sehwag. However, the rest of his side’s batting with the exception of Michael Bevan (49) crumbled, and this meant that India won the match by a comprehensive margin of 60 runs. Sehwag, who also claimed three wickets, deservedly was named the Man of the Match for his all-round efforts.

It, incidentally, was the end of yet another streak for Steve Waugh’s side; after Kolkata had ended their 16-Test winning streak, Bangalore now witnessed the end of their 10-match one-day winning streak.

The Australians suddenly were looking a beaten side, and they needed to engineer a quick turnaround. One man they would have been relying upon was the by-now-prolific Hayden. Ahead of the second one-dayer at Pune, the well-built opening batsman thanked Steve Waugh for keeping faith in him.

“Tugga (Steve) has had a huge influence on me,”' Hayden said. “I don't think I would be here now if it wasn't for Stephen. I just think he has always had a very strong belief in my ability. I just think he has always backed me.

“I don't necessarily know why that is. I think he enjoys the neutral side of my character, where the highs are great and the lows are low but not massively low. I think he enjoys the buoyancy in my character and can relate to it,” he continued. “He's always had a resounding and very positive effect on my game. Even when I wasn't on contract, he always had a big belief in me. I've always known that.” It was a ringing endorsement for the wonders that a captain’s faith can work upon a player.

At Pune, Hayden (57) did play a part in sealing an Australian win, but it was yet another Waugh - Steve’s younger twin Mark - who claimed the star role. The elegant right-hander, whose batting leaves spectators craving for more, caressed an unbeaten 133 off 138 balls to lead his side to a series-levelling eight- wicket win.

The Australian bowlers, especially the quicks, had earlier ensured that India were restricted to a manageable 248, despite a maiden 100 from left-hander Hemang Badani.

The other main story of the week was the appointment of former India new-ball bowler Balwinder Singh Sandhu, famous for bowling Gordon Greenidge with a devilish off-cutter in the 1983 World Cup final, as the chief coach of the National Cricket Academy. Off- spinning great Erapalli Prasanna was one of two other coaches chosen to train India’s brightest young talents.

© CricInfo

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