Mon, Nov 01, 2004 - Page 19 News List

India generates a litany of excuses after enduring loss


Poor planning, flawed squad selection and an excessive dose of one-day cricket have all been blamed for India's first home test series loss to Australia in 35 years as the cricket-addicted nation begins a period of introspection.

Since Bill Lawry's team won the 1969 test series in India, Australia has been repeatedly frustrated by Indian teams who thrived in home conditions -- low-bounce, spin-friendly pitches, and the hot and humid weather.

But this time, Australia dominated with a 217-run win at Bangalore and a 342-run third test victory Nagpur to secure a series-winning 2-0 lead ahead of next week's fourth and final match at Bombay.

India's former captain Sunil Gavaskar, who is a consultant with the national squad for the current series, says India's defeat was helped by an excessive number of limited-overs matches in the two months preceding the test series, along with a faulty itinerary that allowed the Aussies to begin the series at a venue that suited them.

"The Indians are still in the one-day mode, they've not been able to get out of it," Gavaskar said in an interview with The Times of India published Sunday.

Former selector Kirti Azad, meanwhile, says sticking to non-performing players for the past two years led to India's decline.

"The Indian cricket board played into the Aussies' hands by giving them one of their favorite venues, Bangalore, for the first test. Australia has won there in the past," Gavaskar wrote Sunday in his syndicated newspaper column.

Gavaskar said the first test ought to have been played in Madras, where India has a good record against the world's top-ranked test team.

"Also, the heat and humidity in Madras could have sapped the Australians, as was observed in the second test match," Gavaskar said of the test that was keenly poised until rain washed out the last day's play.

Sanath Jayasuriya completed his century Saturday as Sri Lanka continued its determined run chance in reply Pakistan's stiff run target in the second cricket test.

Jayasuriya, 96 overnight, square cut for two runs to complete his 14th test century in the third over of the fourth day after Sri Lanka resumed at 134 for 1.

Kumar Sangakkara (55 not out) and Mahela Jayawardene (26 not out) were at the crease as Sri Lanka moved to 234 for two at lunch. Sangakkara hit six fours and a six in his unbeaten half century. Sri Lanka -- 1-0 up in the two-test series -- are still 36 runs in behind Pakistan, which scored 478 in reply to the tourist's first innings score of 208.

Jayasuriya joins West Indian trio, Brian Lara, Chris Gayle and Ramnaresh Sarwan in scoring more than 1,000 runs this calendar year. Jayasuriya also scored a 253 in Sri Lanka's 201 win over Pakistan in the first test.

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