Abrupt end to a fairytale

Harbhajan-Praveen heroics fail to stop Aussie win

Abrupt end to a fairytale

The script, obviously, hadn’t made its way into the hands of Harbhajan Singh and Praveen Kumar. For three quarters of an hour on a tension-soaked Sunday at the Reliance stadium, the duo joined hands in a wonderfully entertaining association that threatened to snatch victory from the gaping jaws of defeat.

There is, though, little place for fairytales in real life.
The two specialist bowlers couldn’t prevent India from going down by four runs in a gripping first one-day international against Ricky Ponting’s men in a contest that mocked recent epitaphs to the 50-over game.

Till it lasted, the Harbhajan-Praveen association lit up the stands, restored belief in the Indian camp and transformed Aussie grins into worried furrows.
At 201 for seven chasing 292 for eight, not even the staunchest Indian fan could have hoped for a turnaround.

On the brink

In adding 84 for the eighth wicket in just 57 deliveries, numbers eight and nine took India to the doorstep of victory before faltering when nine were needed off final over of the match, sent down by Peter Siddle. Harbhajan is blessed with wonderful hands and great timing; Praveen is a clean striker of the ball, and no more than that. The two contrasts complemented each other as a partnership that initially was viewed as nuisance value gradually mushroomed into a dangerous proposition.

His cause not helped by a sore elbow that prevented Brett Lee from completing his quota, Ponting watched flabbergasted as Harbhajan and Praveen exploded without warning.

Fortunately for him, Siddle held his nerve at the crunch. If there is any such thing as a moral victory, it was India’s. Even if it counts for precious little.

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