Aussies are not showing their fangs

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> The Australians are trying hard to adjust to life after the Sydney Test. But is an Australian team without verbal aggression like a dragon that cannot fire

Updated: January 19, 2008 19:10 IST
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The Australian cricketers are trying hard to adjust to life after the fiery Sydney Test. But is an Australian team without verbal aggression like a dragon that cannot breathe fire?

This was a question floating around the Western Australia Cricket Association (WACA) Ground on Wednesday as a deliberately less hostile Australia did battle with India, who seemed less intimidated by its opponent than it had been in Sydney and Melbourne, the Herald Sun reported on Thursday.

The on-field chatter has died down and appeals have become more measured - even to the point of Shaun Tait apologising to Sachin Tendulkar after appealing for a catch off his elbow.

The Australians are like a class of naughty schoolchildren who are being visited by the principal, or a prisoner out on parole. Every step they take is a cautious one. No doubt Australia's on-field persona will thaw out in time to finish somewhere between their current mood and the boisterous intimidation of Sydney.

But it will be interesting to see whether a more subdued approach to verbal intimidation takes some of the sting out of Australia's game. It has always been a key element of Australia's arsenal, particularly on days like Wednesday when not much else was happening on a beautiful batting wicket.

Australia's behaviour was not flawless. Andrew Symonds declined to take his cap from umpire Asad Rauf after the umpire rejected a close lbw shout against Tendulkar.

The pitch played well, but was not the springboard expected. Talk of it being a throwback to the halcyon days of Dennis Lillee was premature. The WACA pitches on which Lillee used to run amok were so hard they had a glistening white sheen. This one is more dull brown and is playing accordingly.

Australia's decision to play four fast bowlers was predictable - exciting in some ways, but regrettable in others. With the over-rate lapsing appallingly behind schedule, there was a mechanical, laborious feel about the day.

Shane Warne never slayed them at the WACA, but his very presence added variety, spice and pressure. Without a spinner, on Wednesday Australia had a gripping first-session struggle with Virender Sehwag, who played and missed eight times and made sweet contact occasionally.

Sehwag's game is not from the textbook but the Australians have always been engrossed by him and spend more time dissecting him at team meetings than any of his team mates.

Matthew Hayden once walked up to Sehwag in the middle of a Test in India and said: "I just want to say I love the way you play the game".

The sweetest moment of the day was the reception for Sachin Tendulkar when he emerged for his last WACA Test. Normally only Adam Gilchrist and Mike Hussey get that type of greeting for just turning up.

Tendulkar's return gift to the crowd were two beautifully timed shots off Brett Lee and Shaun Tait when he rocked back to leave short-pitched balls then, at the last instant, decided to flick them over slips like the Queen making her royal wave.

They were shots that said everything about the class of the player and the slowness of the wicket.

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