Aussies back on level terms with 24-run victory

Aussies back on level terms with 24-run victory

Indians lose way under lights as visitors fight their way back into the series

Aussies back on level terms with 24-run victory

For the briefest of while, Harbhajan Singh and Praveen Kumar evoked memories of Vadodara before the former played Shane Watson back to the bowler, ending an entertaining 27-run association and with it India’s hopes of maintaining their lead in the seven-match series.

In pursuit of Australia’s competitive 250, India’s chase swung back and forth before it came to a halt at 226 all out in 46.4 overs. There was as much intensity in the stands as irritation. While the Harbhajan-Praveen act promised a thriller, the constant movement of unruly spectators behind the sightscreen often drove the batsmen mad, eventually leading to their evacuation earlier in the innings.
A fit Virender Sehwag played a blinder at the top while Sachin Tendulkar, who at one stage went runless for 18 balls, looked determined before a blunder from umpire Asoka De Silva cut short his stint. Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni flattered to deceive as India lost their way.

It was indisputably India’s best bowling show of the tournament. Agreed, in the second one-dayer they shot Australia out for 255 and in the next the visitors were restricted to 229, but those efforts came under more favourable conditions for bowlers. While in Nagpur the Australians crumbled under a mountain of runs (354), in Delhi the slow track did the trick for them.

Mohali pitch, however, presented a different challenge to them. The bounce was true, but at the same time it aided movement off the track as well. Both Ashish Nehra (3/37) and Praveen exploited the conditions admirably well to keep the Aussie batsmen on a tight leash. Praveen isn’t quite express (Dhoni on occasions even stands up to him behind the wickets), but he makes up for the lack in pace with prodigious swing as has been evident in all the three games. Nehra is quite an exponent of swing and the two did an exceptional job upfront once Dhoni decided to chase.

Australia included opener Shaun Marsh at the cost of Adam Voges to bolster their batting, but the move made little difference. Marsh hardly looked at home before Nehra put an end to his misery trapping him in front when the batsman played across the line. His partner Shane Watson didn’t look too convincing either as the first Power Play saw just 37 runs being scored. Ricky Ponting, who walked in at his customary number three slot, got off the mark with a pulled four off the first ball he faced from Nehra and his aggression rubbed off on Watson as well.

The introduction of Ishant Sharma accelerated the Aussie scoring rate as Ponting (52, 59b, 5x4, 1x6) lay into the paceman. He deposited Ishant over the rope in the arc between mid-wicket and long on and then drove him to long-off fence. The duo added 64 runs in a matter of 63 balls before Harbhajan Singh provided the breakthrough by ejecting Watson (49, 52b, 6x4) off his first ball. The all-rounder was only the first of a clutch of Aussie batsmen who failed to build on their starts.

Ponting, after a flurry of shots to begin with, slowed down a bit. His association with Cameron White had begun to blossom when he was run out off a direct hit from Ravindra Jadeja. White (62) and Michael Hussey (40) then set about their workmanlike partnership (73 off 68 balls) but both were dismissed when Australia needed them to mount the assault. As a result they could score just 26 runs off the batting power play losing four wickets which forced them to settle for less than they would have liked to. In the end though it didn’t matter.

score board
Watson c Dhoni b Harbhajan    49
(52b, 6x4)
Marsh lbw Nehra    5
Ponting (run out)    52
(59b, 5x4, 1x6)
White (run out)    62
(71b, 3x4, 1x6)
Hussey c Ishant b Jadeja    40
(41b, 2x4, 1x6)
Henriques st Dhoni b Harbhajan    6
Johnson b Nehra    8
Manou (run out)    7
Hauritz (not out)    9
Siddle c Jadeja b Nehra    1
Bollinger (run out)    0
Extras (LB-1, W-9, NB-1)    11
Total (all out, 49.2 overs)     250
Fall of wickets: 1-24 (Marsh), 2-28 (Watson), 3-123 (Ponting), 4-96 (Hussey), 5-217 (Henriques), 6-226 (White), 7-236 (Johnson), 8-241 (Manou), 9-247 (Siddle).  Bowling: Praveen 9.2-0-41-0 (w-4), Nehra 8-0-37-3 (nb-1, w-1), Ishant 5-0-42-0 (w-1), Jadeja 7-0-27-0, Harbhajan 10-0-48-2 (w-2), Yuvraj 10-0-54-1 (w-1).
Runs during Power Play 1: 1-10 overs: 37/1; Power Play 2: 11-15 overs: 36/0; Power Play 3 (batting): 45-49 overs: 27/4.

Sehwag c Watson b Siddle    30
(18b, 7x4)
Tendulkar lbw Hauritz    40
(68b, 6x4)
Kohli c Manou b Bollinger    10
(16b, 1x4)
Yuvraj (run out)    12
Dhoni c Manou b Bollinger    26
(46b, 2x4)
Raina b Hauritz    17
Jadeja (run out)    7
(21b, 1x4)
Harbhajan c&b Watson    31
(25b, 5x4, 1x6)
Praveen c Manou b Watson    16
(19b, 3x4)
Nehra c Huritz b Watson    7
(8b, 1x4)
Ishant (not out)    3
Extras (B-1, LB-5, W-20, NB-1)    20
Total (all out, 46.4 overs)    226
Fall of wickets: 1-40 (Sehwag), 2-78 (Kohli), 3-94 (Tendulkar), 4-113 (Yuvraj), 5-145 (Dhoni), 6-156 (Raina), 7-177 (Jadeja), 8-204 (Harbhajan), 9-217 (Praveen). 
Bowling: Johnson 9-0-74-0 (w-6), Siddle 5-2-15-0, Bollinger 9-2-38-3 (nb-1, w-5), Henriques 7-0-33-0 (w-1), Hauritz 9-1-31-2 (w-8), Watson 7.4-1-29-3. 
Runs during Power Play 1: 1-10 overs: 54/1; Power Play 2: 12-16 overs: 27/1; Power Play 3 (batting): 40-44: 39/1.