Sunday 17 February 2008 

Australian Bowlers Set Up 50-Run Win Over India


Australia 203-9 (Clarke 79, Pathan 4-41, I Sharma 2-32)
India 153 (Dhoni 38, Johnson 3-42, Hopes 2-16)

Australia won by 50 runs

There was no Brett Lee for Australia, but they still proved far too strong for India in Adelaide, successfully defending a score of 203 to win by 50 runs in their latest Commonwealth Bank Series match.

Mitchell Johnson took three for 42 as India were bowled out for 153, a crucial contribution after the tourists were 115 for four at one stage, before the Australians hit back in dramatic fashion.

India set about chasing the 204 that they required for victory at a steady pace without looking to take too many risks, Sachin Tendulkar and Gautam Gambhir clearly feeling that keeping wickets in hand was the key when chasing, this modest type of total that they were on this occasion.

Tendulkar seemed a touch anxious early on and indeed it took the Little Master ten balls to get off the mark. However, just two balls later he was trapped in front of his crease and adjudged LBW leaving India 20 for one in the fifth over.

Irfan Pathan was promoted to number three in the Indian batting order and Gambhir and himself continued to eat away at the victory target with some good running between the wickets and also by virtue of putting away the bad balls that came their way. Pathan was starting to look very confident at the crease, perhaps buoyed by his efforts with the ball earlier on, however, he edged James Hopes to Matthew Hayden at slip for 14 and Gambhir followed in the next over caught at gully by Ponting for 34, to leave the game in the balance.

When the in form Rohit Sharma followed Gambhir, an over later India were 59 for four and in all sorts of trouble.

The fall of Sharma’s wicket brought together India’s ODI captain and vice captain, MS Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh. Yuvraj has been woefully out of form and he began very tentatively. In one over he then hit two glorious cover drives for four and followed it with a six off the bowling of Andrew Symonds. He and Dhoni began to wrestle back the momentum that India had lost in that frenetic passage of play when three wickets were lost for next to nothing.

Yuvraj and Dhoni were just starting to get on top of Australia and put the hosts on the back foot, when Yuvraj was caught by Stuart Clark on the mid on boundary attempting to clear the ropes. His downfall left India 115 for five and put the game in the balance once more.

Dhoni and Robin Uthappa appeared to be getting India back on track by working the ball around and finding the gaps. However as so often is the case once a runner (Sharma for Dhoni) is involved, a slight bit of hesitation between Uthappa and Sharma and a direct hit from Matthew Hayden saw Sharma short of his ground which meant that Dhoni had to depart leaving his side 134 for six and with much resting on Uthappa’s young shoulders.

Harbhajan Singh followed in the very next over failing to cope with the steepling bounce of a Johnson delivery and could only glove it through to Adam Gilchrist who took a simple catch.

Clearly lacking confidence in the tail, Uthappa showed some signs of aggression as he charged down the wicket to Mitchell Johnson but soon after he edged through to Gilchrist trying to run the ball down to third man. This left India 150 for eight and the game was all but over.

The match was indeed over a few overs later, when Munaf Patel was caught behind for a duck as India were bowled out for 153.

Earlier in the day, Australia won the toss and elected to bat on what looked a very good wicket for batting. Some excellent pace bowling by the Indians, in particular Irfan Pathan who picked up four for 41 and Ishant Sharma who picked up two for 32 helped India restrict Australia to 203 for nine.

Michael Clarke was the only Australian batsman to offer any real resistance as he made a gutsy 79 however his partnership of 72 with Brad Hogg proved to be a match winning one.

The comprehensive nature of Australia’s victory means they picked up a bonus point and remain top of the table with 17 points. India stay second with eight while Sri Lanka are still bottom with just six points, but they do have a game in hand.

Aaron Kumar
© Cricket World 2008