Sunday 2 March 2008 

Tendulkar Century As India Seal Emphatic Win In Sydney

Australia 239-8 (Hayden 82, Hussey 45, Harbhajan Singh 2-38)
India 242-4 (Tendulkar 117no, R Sharma 66) in Sydney

India won by six wickets and lead the three-match finals 1-0

Sachin Tendulkar hit an unbeaten 117, his first ODI century in Australia, as India defeated Australia by six wickets to take a one nil lead in the best of three match Commonwealth Bank series final in Sydney.

India were wobbling at 56 for two, but a superb partnership of 123 between Tendulkar and Rohit Sharma (66) took India to relative safety, before an unbeaten partnership of between Tendulkar and Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni saw the tourists home with four overs to spare. It is India's first victory against Australia in Sydney at the 12th time of asking.

Chasing 240 for victory India made a solid start to their run chase, as Robin Uthappa and Tendulkar kept the scoreboard moving, with some excellent running between the wickets. India were 45 for no loss after ten overs and in a decent position to chase down their victory target.

Looking to put his foot on the accelerator, Uthappa attempted to hit a big six but was brilliantly caught by Michael Hussey on the square leg boundary, off the bowling of James Hopes, to leave India 50 for one after 11 overs.

Gautam Gambhir the leading run scorer in the tournament so far, did not last too long, a very poor bit of running combined with a good accurate throw by Hopes, saw Gambhir run out for just three to leave India 56 for two in the 13th over and threw the game wide open.

Yuvraj Singh and Sachin Tendulkar were scoring very freely and appeared to be putting the pressure back on Australia. However, Yuvraj was bowled by Brad Hogg for ten to leave India 87 for three after 19 overs and put the tourists slightly on the back foot.

Tendulkar reached his second half century of the tournament just a few balls prior to the dismissal of Yuvraj. Much now depended on the Little Master if India were to beat the world champions in Sydney.

The wicket of Yuvraj brought young Rohit Sharma to the crease to join Tendulkar. The pair went about rescuing India�s innings, and they did this while also maintaining a good run rate. Sharma once again underlined his talent with a couple of glorious straight drives early in his innings. India found themselves 116 for three after 25 overs, the duo from Mumbai appeared to be getting India back into the match.

Tendulkar and Sharma continued to score freely, as their partnership appeared to grow in stature with every over that went by. India were 169 for three after 35 overs and on course for a memorable victory against Ricky Ponting�s men.

Sharma brought up his second 50 of the tournament and the third of his career in the 37th over as India continued to ease towards victory.

Tendulkar reached his century in the 42nd over, the 42nd century of his career and remarkably his first in Australia.

Sharma was bowled by Hopes the very next ball after Tendulkar reached his 100. The wicket ended a superb partnership of 123 between the youngster and the veteran. Sharma fell for 66 leaving India 210 for four, but India were firmly in control.

There were no further alarms as an unbeaten partnership of 42 between Tendulkar and MS Dhoni in just over four overs, saw India home.

Earlier, Australia scored 239 for eight in their allotted 50 overs after a half-century from Matthew Hayden and useful innings from Andrew Symonds and Brett Lee helped them on their way.

Australia won the toss and decided to bat first and their openers, Hayden and Adam Gilchrist began in a very positive fashion. However Gilchrist who made 83 in Australia�s last game against Sri Lanka, was perhaps a touch over confident. He top edged a short delivery from Praveen Kumar straight to Yuvraj Singh at mid on for seven. This left Australia 16 for one in the third over.

Ricky Ponting replaced Adam Gilchrist but he did not last long. The Australian captain pulled a short ball straight onto his stumps, as he was bowled by Praveen Kumar for one to leave the Australians struggling on 19 for two in the fifth over.

Michael Clarke followed Ponting back to the pavilion in the very next over, when he inside edged an in swinging delivery from Ishant Sharma straight to MS Dhoni. Clarke departed for four and his wicket left Australia 24 for three in the sixth over.

Clarke�s dismissal brought Andrew Symonds to the crease to join his Queensland team mate Matthew Hayden. The duo went on something of a counter-attack and were particularly severe on Irfan Pathan whose first two overs went for 25 runs. Hayden reached his 50 in the 14th over over from just 43 balls. Australia found themselves 83 for three after 15 overs and with the momentum now firmly with them.

Hayden and Symonds continued to dominate the Indian bowling as they brought up their hundred partnership in the 23rd over. However the very next ball Andrew Symonds tried to launch Harbhajan Singh for a huge six, but only succeeded in hitting the ball straight down Praveen Kumar�s throat on the mid wicket boundary. Symonds was out for a well made 31 and it meant that Australia were 124 for four in the 24th over.

Harbhajan struck again a few overs later when he had Hayden caught by Piyush Chawla for a splendid 82 from 88 balls. Hayden had seemed set for a big hundred, but his wicket left the Australians 135 for five in the 28th over, with India once again seemingly in control.

Michael Hussey and James Hopes tried to keep the scoreboard moving , but both struggled to dominate against the Indian spinners, Harbhajan and Piyush Chawla. Australia were 155 for five after 35 overs.

Yuvraj Singh picked up the wicket of Hopes in the 39th over when he was well caught by Dhoni for 15 to leave Australia 173 for six and struggling to post a competitive total.

Australia continued to find scoring difficult as they reached 199 for six after 45 over. With much resting on the shoulders of Hussey if Australia were to post a score of around 230.

Hussey was starting to get some momentum for Australia as he worked the ball around and scored the occasional boundary. However he was run out for 45 when attempting a quick single, this left Australia 212 for seven after 47 overs.

Some big hitting by Brett Lee (17) saw Australia reach 239 for eight from their 50 overs.

Aaron Kumar
� Cricket World 2008