Australia clinch thriller

Tendulkars 175 in vain as India lose high-scoring tie by three runs

Australia clinch thriller


The master batsman’s 45th one-day hundred was the backbone of India’s chase of Australia’s mammoth 350 for four built around Shaun Marsh’s maiden one-day hundred and Shane Watson’s aggressive 93 after the visitors elected to bat first, and it was sufficient for a nervy three-run victory despite Tendulkar’s brilliance. Australia took a 3-2 lead in the seven-match series with two ties remaining.
Tendulkar (175, 141b, 19x4, 4x6) has not played with such freedom in the recent past as a variety of reasons – from injuries to change of role over the years – have prompted him to curb his natural flamboyance. But Tendulkar proved that the audacious stroke-maker in him was just dormant and not extinct with a blazing knock.

His innings was a glittering kaleidoscope of imperious shots. There was this stunning pull off Shane Watson over mid-wicket, like on past occasions he shimmied down the track to hoist Nathan Haurtiz for two successive sixes and a cheeky tap behind the gully fielder for four. It was a show of god-given gifts in full splendor.
But Australian spirit was indomitable. They never lost hope even when Tendulkar was going in full throttle and kept pegging away at the Indians on a regular basis.
Virender Sehwag, who got a reprieve on 31, and Tendulkar gave indications of an electrifying night during their association for the opening wicket. After a few initial moments of trepidation the runs came in torrents as they scored 66 runs in just 8.5 overs. However, Sehwag’s dismissal, a mis-timed pull off Ben Hilfenhaus ending in the hands of Doug Bollinger, sparked a spate of dismissals that saw Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh and Mahendra Singh Dhoni getting out without making any significant contributions.

Tendulkar found an able ally in young Suresh Raina, who made a well-crafted 59, and the duo made 137 runs in just 114 balls that raised visions of a miracle win. But Raina fell precisely at that juncture, snapping India’s momentum and with Harbhajan too returned for zilch India’s hopes dimmed further.
However, the presence of Tendulkar was a source of solace but that soon evaporated when he scooped debutant Clint McKay into the hands of Nathan Haurtitz. India need another 19 runs to win with three wickets in hand, but the tailenders could not finish the job off.

Earlier, Australian top order fired in unison under the leadership of Marsh. The Western Australia youngster had struggled in the two matches he played in the series, but he was a changed man on the day. However, Marsh should be thankful to Watson for taking the pressure off him with a blazing knock. Watson and Marsh milked 145 runs off 152 balls, and that provided the momentum Australia were hoping to achieve and they maintained it with regular partnerships.

After the departure of Watson, Marsh, who was dropped on 29 and 51, tied up with his skipper Ricky Ponting for the second wicket to add a further 91 runs off just 81 balls. Marsh and Ponting departed in rather quick succession.
Cameron White, who brought up his fifth one-day fifty, and a business-like Mike Hussey added 80 runs in a mere 43 balls for the fourth wicket that powered Australia to the massive total, that proved just enough.

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