|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
Lee's pace too hot for India
Harish Kotian | September 22, 2006 16:06 IST
Last Updated: September 22, 2006 21:32 IST
Australia beat India by 18 runs in the sixth and final league match to qualify for the final of the DLF Cup One-Day International tri-series in Kuala Lumpur on Friday.
Chasing Australia's modest total of 213, India were bowled out for a lowly 195 in 43.5 overs and lost the match by 18 runs.
Dinesh Mongia, back in the Indian team after nearly a year-and-half, played a responsible innings of 63 not out, but all the other batsmen failed to rise to the challenge.
Brett Lee was the wrecker-in-chief, claiming 5 for 38 and taking Australia to the final, where they will play the West Indies on Sunday.
Earlier, the World champions staged a late recovery to post 213, courtesy of a vital 77-run partnership between Brad Haddin and Brad Hogg.
Haddin counter-attacked the Indians with an innings of 46 from 63 balls, which included four huge sixes. Hogg contributed with a vital 38 off 49 balls.
Matthew Hayden top-scored for Australia with a steady innings of 54.
Australia's captain Ricky Ponting won the toss and elected to bat, believing that the pitch, with its unpredictable nature, would be difficult to bat on in the second innings.
India made a couple of changes to the team that beat the West Indies on Wednesday, Dinesh Mongia and Mohammad Kaif replacing S Sreesanth and Yuvraj Singh respectively.
Australia continued with their rotation policy, resting Michael Clarke, Shane Watson, Dan Cullen and Nathan Bracken for Ponting, Brad Hogg, Damien Martyn and Glenn McGrath.
Australia started in positively, with veteran opener Matthew Hayden leading the charge. While Simon Katich looked to rotate the strike, Hayden started with a flow of boundaries, a couple of them creamed in style through the cover region.
With each passing over the batsmen started looking more comfortable and it was vital for India to claim a wicket soon..
Katich's was the first to fall, courtesy a brilliant diving catch by Raina at backward point off Agarkar. The left-hander lashed at a wide delivery, but Raina dived full length to his left to complete the catch. (36-1, 8.2)
Then Hayden, on 22, enjoyed a slice of luck as his edge flew through the vacant second slip region. Agarkar produced a beauty that pitched on off-stump and moved away from the batsman, taking the edge, but was unlucky not to be rewarded with a wicket in the same over.
Ponting (4) went for a reckless shot early his innings and had to pay the price. The Australia captain's aerial flick went straight to Agarkar on the fine leg boundary off Munaf Patel. (49-2, 11.1)
Hayden enjoyed another reprieve on 33, when Munaf's throw missed the stumps by centimeters, as the left-hander attempted a close run.
The 34-year-old reached his half-century, inclusive of eight boundaries, off 65 balls, with a single to mid-off in the 21st over.
R P Singh and Harbhajan Singh showed tremendous discipline and restricted the scoring in the Powerplay overs. Just 31 runs came between the 10th and the 20th over, even though India used the second and third Powerplay.
Hayden's running between the wickets was comical and, at times, just unbecoming of an Aussie batsman. After surviving a few close chances he finally fell in the 22nd over for 54.
A mid-pitch misunderstanding with Damien Martyn found the left-hander well short of his ground. (87-3, 21.2)
Australia have never been found so wanting in running between the wickets as they were in this match. India benefited from another such goof up by the World champions. Dinesh Mongia, back in the Indian team after a gap of nearly 17 months, was responsible for getting a double break.
First it was Martyn, who was run-out for 20, after a misunderstanding with Andrew Symonds. Initially, Pakistani umpire Asad Rauf refused to consult the third umpire, saying Mongia had displaced the bails with his hand, but then decided to go to the television umpire, who ruled in favour of the fielding team. (98-4, 24.2)
The very next ball Mongia trapped Symonds (2) leg before wicket with a quicker and straighter delivery that caught him right in front of the stumps. (98-5, 24.3)
The move to include Mongia, who emerged as one of the best spinners in English country cricket for the last couple of seasons, seemed to be a blessing in disguise for India as the pitch began to offer assistance to the slower balls.
Australia went from bad to worse. There was yet another run-out as Brad Haddin (1) was found short of his ground in the 26th over. But television replays showed that the bowler, Harbhajan, had dislodged the stumps without the ball in his hands -- quite a careless effort from the off-spinner.
Haddin, thinking he was out, had walked some distance towards the pavilion, but promptly came back when the green light was flashed. With only the bowlers left to follow, this miss could prove costly for India.
Harbhajan then went round the wicket to Hussey (13) and produced a magical delivery to get rid of the left-hander. The ball drifted in to the batsman and the sharp turn, after pitching, took the edge straight to Dravid at first slip. (117-6, 31.3)
Australia had collapsed from 86 for 2 in the 22nd over to 117 for 6 in the space of just 10 overs.
Harbhajan bowled his 10 overs on the trot, taking one wicket and giving away just 24 runs as Australia reached 129 for 6 after 34 overs.
Haddin and Brad Hogg then led Australia's recovery with some brave, attacking cricket. The Australian wicketkeeper's third six brought up the 50-run partnership for the seventh wicket and the Indians started getting worried.
Haddin played a delightful cameo, helping Australia towards a healthy total, before falling to R P Singh. The right-hander tried to pull a short delivery from Singh, but ended up a giving an easy high catch to wicketkeeper Dhoni. (194-7, 44.4)
Haddin, who scored 46 from 63 balls, inclusive of four sixes, added 77 vital runs in 79 balls for the seventh wicket with Hogg.
Hogg played a useful innings of 38 before he was unluckily run-out at the non-striker's end. Brett Lee's straight drive took a deflection off R P Singh's hand and crashed into the stumps. (208-8, 46)
Hogg's 49-ball knock contained two boundaries and a six and gave Australia some hope in this do-or-die encounter. The left-arm spinner would have been happy looking how much help the pitch was offering the slow bowlers.
Thereafter, the last two wickets fell quickly for the addition of just five runs.
First, Stuart Clarke (2) was bowled by a fuller delivery from Agarkar, as he tried to hit across the line. (213-9, 47.5)
Brett Lee was the last wicket to fall as he tried to heave R P Singh on the leg-side, but hit it straight to Sehwag on the square leg boundary for 7. (213-10, 48.1)
Australia recovered considerably well to post a decent 213 after it seemed, at one stage, that they would be bowled out for around the 150-run mark.
Haddin and Hogg's 78-run partnership not only took them past 200, but also gave their bowlers a big boost.
Hayden was the top-scorer with a steady 54, but Haddin, with his timely knock of 46, was the saviour.
The Australians struggled with their running between the wickets and three of their batsmen fell to run outs -- some quite unbelievable. Had India taken all their chances, there could have been more run-outs, quite crucially the wicket of Haddin. His missed run-out when he was on 1 ultimately proved very critical.
For India, pacers Agarkar and R P Singh were the most successful bowlers, claiming 2 for 44 and 2 for 43 respectively. But Harbhajan, with 1 for 24 in his 10 overs, was by far the best bowler.
The Indian team management finally showed some sense when they opted not to use Rahul Dravid as an opener. It was a huge sigh of relief to see regular opener Sehwag walk out to bat with Tendulkar.
But no sooner did India's run chase begin than there was drama. Tendulkar was declared out, caught behind off the first ball he faced from McGrath in the second over of the innings as he tried to pull a short delivery. The ball had hit his shoulder, but England umpire Mark Benson ruled him caught behind after the Australians appealed. However, seconds later he was bizarrely called back as the umpire reversed his decision.
Captain Ricky Ponting was furious with the decision, but not for long, as Tendulkar did not stay long.
The ace batsman obliged the Aussies in the very next over, when he cut the ball straight to Hussey at point off Brett Lee for 4. (7-1, 2.2)
In another interesting move, Mohammad Kaif was promoted up the order to number three. But India's batting woes continued as Sehwag fell cheaply, bowled by Lee for 10. The right-hander's lack of footwork came to the fore once again when he played back to a full incoming delivery. (20-2, 4.4)
Two quick wickets and suddenly the modest target of 213 seemed like a huge mountain to climb. And making India's task difficult were McGrath and Lee, who found their rhythm right away.
Captain Dravid was desperately short of runs, having scored just 85 runs in his last eight innings. Seven of those innings were as opener, where he clearly looked uncomfortable; fortunately common sense prevailed this time and he batted down the order.
After a slow start, Kaif started to look comfortable, but then offered a return catch to pacer Stuart Clark and was out for 21. (47-3, 12.5)
Two balls later, Clarke claimed the all-important wicket of Dravid for 7. The Indian captain tried to play across the line on the leg side but was struck on the pads and adjudged leg before wicket. (49-4, 14)
Clark was smashed all over the park during the match against the West Indies, when he was hit for 87 runs in his 7 overs. But today he came back well and justified his captain's faith in him. He just concentrated on bowling on the stumps, and his reward was two quick wickets in his third over which gave his team the upper hand.
India reached 78 for 4 after 20 overs, before spinner Brad Hogg was introduced into the attack. It remained to be seen how much help the left-armer would get from the pitch and whether he could make an impact on the Indian batting.
He did not take much time to claim his first wicket. He foxed Raina with his guile, bowling a chinaman when the batsman was expecting the ball to leave him. Raina tried to cut, but only managed to chop the ball onto his stumps. (96-5, 24.5)
Raina scored 26 from 36 balls, inclusive of two boundaries and a six, adding 46 useful runs for the fifth wicket with Dinesh Mongia.
It was now left to Mongia and Mahendra Singh Dhoni � India's last batting pair -- to earn victory. At the half-way stage, the match was evenly poised with India needing another 118 runs from 25 overs, and five wickets in hand.
Mongia displayed great maturity and gradually blossomed during the course of his innings, so much so that he scored at a brisker rate than Dhoni.
Dhoni started with caution, just playing the singles, before launching a huge straight six off the 22nd ball he faced. Clark had kept the long-off fielder on the boundary, but Dhoni cleared him with the ease, though it was still a risky shot with India on 143 for 5 in the 33rd over.
Mongia, who last played for India in April last year, showed what India were missing all this time. He played a neat late cut to the third man region to bring up his half-century off 68 balls, which was inclusive of five boundaries, in the 36th over.
Both the batsmen played with great common sense, till Dhoni lost his cool. He tried to cut a short delivery from Lee, but could not handle the extra bounce as his shot carried straight to the fielder on the square boundary. (158-6, 36.2)
Television replays showed that it was clearly a no-ball as Lee overstepped the bowling mark. But Pakistani umpire Asad Rauf failed to notice it and perhaps handed Australia a big advantage at such a critical stage in the match.
While Mongia kept a cool head at one end, wickets kept tumbling at the other.
Ajit Agarkar failed to read Hogg's spin and was trapped plumb leg before wicket for 9. He tried to play across the line to a short quick delivery but was beaten all ends up. (185-7, 39.5)
Harbhajan Singh did not last long either, caught behind off part-timer Symonds, off the second ball he faced. (186-8, 40.2)
It seems umpire Rauf needs to get his eyes checked as television replays confirmed that the ball had missed the edge of Harbhajan's bat. There was no deflection or a sound, so it's just hard to guess why the umpire ruled him out?
With just two wickets left, the onus now solely rested on Mongia to guide the team home. But there was no support for him from the other end. R P Singh (4) was deceived by a slower delivery from Lee and spooned a simple catch to Hussey at point. (193-9, 43.1)
Munaf Patel didn't offer much resistance and was neatly caught by Symonds at short cover off Lee. (193-10, 43.5)
India were bundled out for 193 and lost the match by 18 runs.
Australia will take on West Indies in the final on Sunday, while India return home after messing up an easy run chase.
Lee finished with 5 for 38 in his 8.5 overs, the sixth time he has taken five or more wickets in an innings in one-day internationals.
Clark (2 for 36) and Hogg (2 for 48) gave him good support, picking wickets at regular intervals.
He started with the wickets of Tendulkar and Sehwag and then came back to finish off the tail. It was quite appropriate that he was named the man of the match.
Mongia was left stranded on a well-made 63 as none of the other batsmen gave him support. The left-hander faced 90 balls, hitting 5 boundaries; he mostly concentrated on taking singles and twos to keep the scoreboard rotating. But none of the other batsmen could take a cue from his book as India ended up on the losing side.
Except for Mongia, no other batsman even crossed the 30-run mark. It is a timely wake up call for the team management to get the batting woes sorted out ahead of the all-important ICC Champions Trophy, to be held next month in India.
The constant toying with the batting order has left most of the batsmen confused and it would make sense to get the order settled down at the earliest and cut down on experiments.
Ponting might be relieved to escape out of a difficult situation. An important thing to note is that the last two Australian captains - Mark Taylor in 1997 and Steve Waugh in 2002 - were sacked from the ODI squad after failing to reach the final of the tri-series in Australia.
Australia will no doubt start as favourites for the final on Sunday, while the West Indies have some thinking to do after their loss to India on Wednesday.