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Australia dump India out of Champions Trophy
Harish Kotian in Mohali | October 29, 2006 19:30 IST
Last Updated: October 29, 2006 23:06 IST
Australia registered a thumping six-wicket victory over India to enter the semi-finals of the ICC Champions Trophy, at the Punjab Cricket Association stadium, in Mohali, on Sunday.
Set a target of 250, on a good batting pitch, Australia cruised home on half-centuries from Shane Watson, Ricky Ponting and Damien Martyn.
Watson blasted a quickfire 50 off 46 balls to give Australia a flying start. Ponting (58) and Martyn then consolidated in the middle overs, adding 74 runs for the third wicket.
Martyn, who remained unbeaten on 73, hit the winning runs as Australia cruised to victory in 45.4 overs. He was named the man of the match for the second straight time.
Electing to bat first, India failed to get going and posted a modest 249 for 8 in their 50 overs.Virender Sehwag laid the foundation with a solid innings of 65, and captain Rahul Dravid scored 52, but the rest of the batsmen failed to make notable contributions.
Pacers Brett Lee and Glenn McGrath never let the Indian batsmen off the hook, claiming 2 for 54 and 2 for 34 respectively.
As expected, Glenn McGrath took the new ball with Brett Lee as Australia aimed for an early breakthrough on a pitch that looked much better for batting than any of the earlier pitches here.
Sehwag tried to play positively, hitting anything wide, without bothering too much about his footwork, which is the case with him always.
He was lucky to be dropped on 10, as his full-blooded cut shot off Lee just flew over Michael Clarke's fingertips at backward point in the third over.
Then an inside edge in Lee's next over just missed the stumps by a whisker before racing to the boundary.
Sachin Tendulkar got off to a nervy start. After a few play and miss shots against Lee in the fifth over, he opened his account in style off the 13th ball he faced. It was a sweetly-timed boundary through the off-side.
Ricky Ponting had said on Saturday that McGrath has a bit of an edge of late when it comes to contests between the two players. The veteran bowler showed it yet again when he frustrated the master batsman for quite a while before his outswinger took the edge and dismissed Tendulkar for the seventh time in ODIs.
Tendulkar looked a pale shadow of himself as he fell after a subdued innings of 10 from 26 in the 10th over. His wicket saw India trying another batsman at No 3 -- local lad, Dinesh Mongia.
Tendulkar's catch was Adam Gilchrist's 400th dismissal in one-day internationals. He became the first player in international cricket to reach the milestone.
Sehwag completed his fifty with a neat glide to the third man region in the 19th over off Nathan Bracken. It was his 24th half-century in one-dayers and third against Australia; it seemed he was eyeing a big knock.
All-rounder Shane Watson struck at the right time to claim India's second wicket. Just when it looked like Mongia would forge a big partnership with Sehwag, he was caught in the slips for 18.
The setback did not hamper India too much, as Dravid and Sehwag continued to score at a good rate. But once again they lost another wicket against the run of play in the 29th over. Sehwag was dismissed leg before wicket to Mitchell Johnson after a superb knock of 65 from 90 balls, including nine boundaries.
Every time the Indian batsmen threatened to run away with a big score, Australia would reply with a wicket.
Captain Dravid, in his 300th one-dayer, started positively and continued milking the runs in the middle overs. He raced to his half-century in 62 balls with a smashing boundary in the 41st over, but was dismissed the very next ball by Lee.
He was caught by Michael Clarke at short midwicket as he tried to drive through the leg-side after a good innings of 52. Dravid added 60 runs for the fourth wicket with Mohammad Kaif.
Kaif (30) followed soon, inside-edging Lee on to his stumps as India slipped to 197 for 5 in the 43rd over.
Thereafter, India lost a few quick wickets. Young left-hander Suresh Raina (13 from 19 balls) and Irfan Pathan (10 from 7 balls) failed to get going in the final overs.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni again proved his utility with some vital quick runs at the end. He scored 28 from 23 balls before he was dismissed leg before wicket off the final ball, as India finished on 249 for 8 in their 50 overs.
The highlight of Dhoni's innings was the reverse sweep boundary he hit off Aussie left-arm pacer Bracken.
Lee bowled a superb second spell, claiming 2 for 11 in four overs to check India's progress after the Dravid-Kaif partnership. He was Australia's most successful bowler, finishing with 54 for 2 in his 10 overs.
However, veteran pacer McGrath was the best bowler for Australia, taking 2 for 34 in his 10 overs.
Though the total is a competitive one, the Indians would have been hoping to reach somewhere around the 270-run mark. The key now lies in getting Gilchrist early, else he could just make the difference on this good batting pitch.
Adam Gilchrist and Shane Watson gave Australia a flying start, scoring 59 from eight overs.
Opening bowlers Irfan Pathan and Munaf Patel struggled with their line and length. But S Sreesanth, who replaced Pathan, struck in his first over. Gilchrist smashed one straight to Suresh Raina at backward point and was dismissed for 23, scored off 24 balls, in the ninth over.
But that didn't stop the rampaging Aussies, who smashed the Indian pacers all over the park. Ricky Ponting started nervously, but once he found his footing, the boundaries flowed at will.
Watson, who called for a runner in the 10th over, looked in sublime touch. Australia raced to 101 in the 14th over, which included 15 boundaries India's only hope was Harbhajan Singh.
But it was left-arm spinner Dinesh Mongia who provided India the second breakthrough when he had Watson fell leg before wicket, but not before the batsman had scored a blazing 50 from 46 balls, inclusive of eight boundaries.
With Ponting in top form, on 41, Australia raced to 151 for 2 after 25 overs. No bowler was able to make any sort of impression and it was no surprise that many from the crowd started leaving the stadium at this early stage.
Sreesanth came back for his second spell and struck with the wicket of Ponting. The Australian captain was caught in the slips after a fine knock of 58 from 69 balls; he added 74 for the third wicket with Damien Martyn.
But that wicket came too late and did little to revive the hosts. Martyn stepped up the accelerator after Ponting's dismissal, reaching his half-century off 88 balls, inclusive of four boundaries, in the 41st over.
Australia received a slight jolt in their charge when Andrew Symonds was bowled by Pathan for 20. But by then the result was a foregone conclusion.
Quite deservedly, Martyn hit the winning runs as Australia cruised to 252 for 4 in 45.4 overs.
Martyn finished unbeaten on 73 from 104 balls, inclusive of eight boundaries, his second match-winning innings in as many matches. He had scored 78 in their previous match against England in Jaipur.
The Indian bowlers were unimpressive and conceded 18 wides.
The difference between the two sides was the starts with the bat. India struggled to 57 for 1 in 15 overs, while Australia raced to 108 for 1 at the same stage.
Mongia and Harbhajan got a bit of purchase from the wicket and it is strange why off-spinner Ramesh Powar was ignored yet again.
India's poor run against Australia continues, having last beaten them around three years ago, in January 2004, to be precise.
Australia, who top Group A, thus joined New Zealand, South Africa and the West Indies in the semi-finals of the tournament.
The world champions will take on New Zealand in the first semi-final in Mohali on Wednesday, November 1. South Africa play the West Indies in the second semi-final in Jaipur on Thursday, November 2.
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