India restrict Australia to 229 for five

India restrict Australia to 229 for five

Australian batsman Shane Watson plays a shot during the third ODI match against India at Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium in New Delhi on Saturday. PTI Electing to bat after winning the toss, the Aussies found the runs difficult to come by on a slow Feroze Shah Kotla track.

Michael Hussey and Ricky Ponting (59) relied on their experience to score the bulk of the runs for the visitors, who have now left India to score at an asking rate of 4.40 runs per over to take a 2-1 lead in the series.

While Shane Watson (41) also chipped in with a useful contribution, none of the other Australian batsmen could hang around for long on a pitch which was not conducive for strokeplay.

Ponting, opening the innings for only the second time in his career, and Shane Watson provided a solid start to the innings with both the batsmen playing cautiously on the slow track.

Watson, however, began on an aggressive note by square cutting paceman Praveen Kumar to the point boundary in the last ball of the opening over of the day.

Both Ponting and Watson curbed their natural strokeplay and took their time to adjust to the bounce of the pitch, which had produced a number of low-scoring matches during the recent Champions League.

Praveen Kumar and Ashish Nehra bowled a tidy opening spell but never looked menacing as the two Australian batsmen negotiated them with ease, prompting Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni to introduce spinner Ravindra Jadeja as early as in the 11th over.

The two Aussie openers were beginning to accelerate the pace of scoring when part-timer Yuvraj Singh provided the breakthrough to the home team much to the delight of a capacity crowd which had little to cheer about in the first hour.

Watson was smartly stumped by Dhoni as he stretched forward to counter the spin which brought an end to the 72-run opening partnership. His knock of 41 was studded with five boundaries.

The experienced Michael Hussey then joined his captain in the middle and the two seasoned players went about consolidating the position for the team with a risk-free approach.

Ponting, who looked quite comfortable in the middle, soon notched up his 72nd ODI half century but could not survive long after that as he fell prey to Jadeja.

Ponting was trapped in front of the wicket by a Jadeja delivery which kept a trifle low and umpire Sanjay Hazare had no hesitation in ruling him out.

The hosts struck in the very next over when another part-timer Suresh Raina evicted Cameron White with Dhoni taking the catch after fumbling for a long time. White was, however, distinctly unlucky as the television replays showed that the ball had hit his pads before going to Dhoni.

From a comfortable 128 for one, the visitors suddenly slumped to 129 for three, bringing some life back into the game.

Adam Voges joined the action after White's brief stay at the wicket and took the score to 172 before becoming Harbhajan Singh's first victim with Praveen Kumar latching on to a brilliant catch.