India seek to spin a positive from the negative

It is Diwali, Hinduism's biggest religious festival, on Friday. But India is already in pre-celebration mode, after the country's cricket team gave their fans a rousing, though controversial, Test triumph over Australia from the clutches of defeat two days ago.

It is Diwali, Hinduism's biggest religious festival, on Friday. But India is already in pre-celebration mode, after the country's cricket team gave their fans a rousing, though controversial, Test triumph over Australia from the clutches of defeat two days ago. It followed weeks of agony and disbelief among the legions of Indian supporters over their side's ineptitude.

The pitch turned square from the moment a spinner was introduced on the second morning after a rain-affected first day. A wildly fluctuating encounter climaxed in pulsating fashion as Australia were bowled out for 93 in their second innings, which lasted just 30.5 overs. From first ball to last, the game lasted fractionally over two days.

The series had been decided after Australia established a unassailable 2-0 lead last week, so this was a dead game, which Australians have a tendency to lose. But Adam Gilchrist, who had deputised as captain in the first three Tests, had stolen Ricky Ponting's thunder. So the match was by no means of academic interest to Ponting, back at the helm after injury. Indeed, he set the scene with a combative pre-match charge that the groundsman had "cooked" a wicket for India.

This was rather in contrast to "the Gilchrist effect", which had injected a close-to-convivial atmosphere in the middle; so much so that Harbhajan Singh, who delivered the coup de grâce, complained of a lack of aggression in the Indian camp, perhaps disarmed by the abandonment of sledging by the Australians.

This teeming, western Indian metropolis - India's business and Bollywood hub - is cricket's commercial capital, with a reputation of converting top Indian players into millionaires - Sachin Tendulkar has an estimated annual income of £2.5 million.

But in the past month, the big names plummeted in public esteem; and advertising spend on new campaigns featuring such "brand ambassadors" was reportedly sus- pended. This latest result may be insufficient to restore normality; though Tendulkar and VVS Laxman probably took some heat off with a thrilling, match-transforming assault on the debutant off-spinner Nathan Hauritz in the Indians' second innings.

Matters of finance apart, there is a divisive debate under way over whether Sou-rav Ganguly should remain as India's skipper; indeed, whether he is genuinely injured or pretending to be so. Kapil Dev wants him sacked, Dilip Vengsarkar doesn't, and more voices are joining the clamour all the time. He was appointed captain yesterday for a one-off one-day game against Pakistan next Saturday.

An abbreviated Test is catastrophic for India's cricket economy. Where a sport so crucially revolves around turnover from television rights, a disappearance of three playing days irreparably diminishes advertising income. On Friday, the Doordarshan channel, who aired the series in India, were frantically inserting commercials, sometimes even before an over was completed, to reduce impending losses. And it was not exactly value for money for people who bought season tickets for the five days.

While Indian groundsmen have been reputed to conjure spinning tracks to feed the hosts' perceived strength, rarely has there been an Indian Test wicket which deviated so alarmingly and so early. Michael Clarke, only an occasional left-arm spinner, returned astonishing figures of 6.2-0-9-6. In such conditions, India, reverting to the Sixties and Seventies fashion of three specialist spinners, naturally had an edge, and they escaped to victory by forcing the Australians to bat last. The visitors perished in quest of a paltry target of 107. The capitulation was reminiscent of Greg Chappell's team being bundled out for 84 by the Indians when chasing 143 at Melbourne in 1981.

But Australia remain world champions, with the coming months likely to see a race unfold between England and India to occupy second spot.

What may decide that is the outcome of next summer's Ashes series in England, fertile ground in the past, of course, for Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie and Shane Warne, and perhaps in the near future for young Clarke.

Voices
voices
News
President Obama, one of the more enthusiastic users of the fist bump
newsBumping fists rather than shaking hands could reduce the spread of infectious diseases, it is claimed
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
News
newsHad asteroid hit earlier or later in history, the creatures might have survived, say scientists
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
arts + ents
Sport
Laura Trott with her gold
Commonwealth GamesJust 48 hours earlier cyclist was under the care of a doctor
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
arts + entsFilmmaker posted a picture of Israeli actress Gal Gadot on Twitter
News
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
people
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel
arts + entsPrince Oberyn nearly sets himself on fire with a flaming torch
News
Danny Nickerson, 6, has received 15,000 cards and presents from well-wishers around the world
newsDanny loves to see his name on paper, so his mother put out a request for cards - it went viral
Sport
France striker Loic Remy
sportThe QPR striker flew to Boston earlier in the week to complete deal
News
Orville and Keith Harris. He covered up his condition by getting people to read out scripts to him
People
Arts and Entertainment
Zoe Saldana stars in this summer's big hope Guardians of the Galaxy
filmHollywood's summer blockbusters are no longer money-spinners
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Life and Style
Workers in Seattle are paid 100 times as much as workers in Bangladesh
fashionSeattle company lets customers create their own clothes, then click 'buy' and wait for delivery
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried