Sunday 10 February 2008 

India Stun Australia With Five-Wicket Win In Melbourne

However, much like with Hayden earlier in the game, Sehwag was stopped in his tracks just when he looked as though he was in a mood to finish the game off very quickly. He was trapped lbw by Nathan Bracken for 11; India were 18-1 at this stage.

Perhaps with the idea that scoring fast would put pressure back on the Australians, (who knew that to have any chance of winning the game they would have to bowl the Indians out), Irfan Pathan was promoted to number three. But even before the left hander had even faced a ball he saw the little master Sachin Tendulkar hit three boundaries in one over off Lee to immediately regain any momentum that may have been lost after Sehwag's downfall.

After his dismissal there was no sign of India shying away from their natural game as they kept scoring at very close to six run per over in the power play, therefore making it very hard for Ricky Ponting and his team to even get a foothold in the game.

Tendulkar appeared very fortunate to survive a huge appeal for caught behind off the bowling of Stuart Clark, as replays suggested he did get a a very faint edge on the ball that went through to Gilchrist.

There were celebrations in the Australian camp not long after as Pathan was trapped lbw by Mitchell Johnson to leave India on 54-2.

After the fall of Pathan wicket there was a slight change in India's approach to their run chase. Tendulkar and Gautam Gambhir, who was a centurion in India's last game against Sri Lanka, appeared content to consolidate India's dominant position in the game and just keep rotating the strike.

The period of consolidation carried on as India's run rate dropped considerably but they were still well in control. After 20 overs India were 82-2. However while victory was firmly in India's sights, the Commonwealth Bank Series awards a bonus point if a victory is completed comfortably and in order for India to attain this bonus point they needed to achieve their victory target inside 40 overs.

The game appeared to be getting away from Australia and worse still from their point of view it seemed plausible that they would also concede the bonus point. Just as all these permutations would have been going through the minds of Australian fans, Brett as he has done so often this summer bowled a delivery which lifted on Gambhir and he spooned the ball straight to Clarke at gully.

Yuvraj Singh came to the wicket to join Tendulkar, the attacking left handed batsman has been short of form but seemed determined to give Tendulkar worthy support as India continued to consolidate.

However, Tendulkar on 44 appeared to lose concentration as he chipped a slower ball from Johnson to Lee who took a superb diving catch at mid off. This left India 96-4 and gave the Australians a glimmer of hope that they could get back into the game.

Yuvraj hung around for a while but never looked likely to trouble the scorers as he failed to hit a cover drive off the ground and only succeeded in hitting it straight to Hussey in the covers.

Stuart Clarke was the bowler and the wicket meant that India were 102-5, still needing 58 to win the game.

Indian captain MS Dhoni has shown maturity in abundance since he inherited the ODI captaincy. On many occasions he has rescued India from difficult situations. Here he seemed tentative when he first came out to bat on this occasion, the conditions were visibly getting harder, by the over. The ball was reverse swinging, therefore India needed their skipper and his partner young Rohit Sharma to weather the storm, and wait for the bad balls to come their way.

Dhoni and Sharma did their best to ease the tension in the Indian dressing room; run scoring was still at a premium but some smart running between the wickets enabled the Indians to keep eating away at the target of 160.

Indeed as the Indians approached victory, Rohit Sharma, who seemed a bit out of sorts early on, started to open his shoulders and hit a couple of gorgeous boundaries off the bowling of Andrew Symonds.

The winning runs came with just over four overs to spare as Andrew Symonds bowled a wide down the leg side. It was a thoroughly convincing display by India and although they had a wobble in the middle of their innings, there is no doubt they were the deserved winners.

India now top the table with eight points, one ahead of Australia while the Sri Lankans are currently bottom of the table with just two points.

Aaron Kumar
© Cricket World 2008


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