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Tendulkar ton helps India draw first blood in finals
March 02, 2008 12:55 IST
Last Updated: March 02, 2008 17:49 IST
Sachin Tendulkar [Images] scored his first one-day century on Australian soil as an inspired India spanked the World champions by six wickets in the first match of the best-of-three finals in the Commonwealth Bank tri-series in Sydney on Sunday.
After the Indian bowlers put up a disciplined performance to restrict Australia to 239 for eight, Tendulkar (117 not out) batted like a true champion. He not only notched his 42nd ODI century but also shouldered the responsibility of steering India home with 25 balls to spare.
The 34-year-old champion batsman, who hasn't been in the best of form in the tri-series, couldn't have found a better stage to make a statement with his bat and break the jinx of not scoring an ODI century on Australian soil.
Tendulkar, who defied a groin injury in the latter part of his innings, found an able ally in young Rohit Sharma (66) and the duo added 123 runs for the fourth wicket to pull India out of a spot of bother at 87 for three and put the team on course for a remarkable victory in a thrilling floodlit contest at the SGC.
It was a stunning exhibition of skill and composure by the Indians who relied on a heady mix of youth and experience to dominate the proceedings from the very first ball.
Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni [Images] hit the winning runs, clobbering a boundary to trigger off scenes of wild celebrations among Indian fans in the galleries.
India's gamble to go in with two specialist spinners also paid off as Harbhajan Singh [Images] and Piyush Chawla bowled tidy spells to contain the run flow. Only Matthew Hayden [Images] (82), Michael Hussey (45) and Andrew Symonds [Images] (31) could make notable contributions for the Aussies.
The pressure will be on the home team when the teams square up for the second final in Brisbane on Tuesday. India are seeking a tri-series title for the first time in Australia.
Tendulkar provided the thrust from the very start as he laid a strong foundation with a 50-run association for the opening wicket with Robin Uthappa (17) and then stitched the valuable partnership with Rohit Sharma.
The master batsman reached the century with a dab to third man; the hundred came off 106 balls and contained eight fours. He was not out on 117 off 120 balls and 10 fours.
Uthappa had done his bit in providing India a decent platform before he pulled James Hopes straight into the hands of Mike Hussey, who took a brilliant diving catch on the run at the square leg fence.
Gambhir was a victim of misunderstanding when he hesitated momentarily on a call for second run from Tendulkar and found himself short of crease at the non-striker's end.
Yuvraj Singh played a brilliant flick off Mitchell Johnson before he failed to read a flipper from Brad Hogg [Images] and found his stumps in disarray.
Earlier, off-spinner Harbhajan Singh won the latest round of his feud with Australia's cricketers when he captured the vital wickets of Matthew Hayden and Andrew Symonds.
The combative Harbhajan dismissed Symonds for 31 and denied Hayden the chance of a century when he removed him for 82.
Australia made a slow start after Adam Gilchrist's [Images] final appearance in Sydney ended prematurely when he departed for seven, mistiming a short delivery from Praveen Kumar to Yuvraj Singh at mid-on.
Kumar bagged a second wicket in his opening spell when Australia captain Ricky Ponting [Images] played on for one and Ishant Sharma dismissed Michael Clarke [Images] for four, caught by wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Replays suggested the batsmen had missed the ball.
Hayden and Symonds, both embroiled in recent disputes with Harbhajan, steadied the innings with a fourth-wicket partnership of 100 from 105 balls but the Indian had the last laugh.
Symonds, who accused of Harbhajan of racially abusing him during the Sydney Test, holed out to Kumar in the deep when he tried to smash him out of the ground.
Hayden, reprimanded on Friday after describing Harbhajan as an "obnoxious weed" and challenging Sharma to a fight, had looked to be in ominous form as he raced towards a hundred.
The left-hander struck 10 boundaries off 88 balls before he came unstuck when also fell to Harbhajan, caught by all-rounder Piyush Chawla.
Harbhajan, who described Hayden as one of the most disliked cricketers in the international game, cheekily celebrated his success by shadow boxing with his team mate Yuvraj.
The Australians were in deep trouble at 135 for five in the 28th over but recovered thanks to some lusty hitting by the middle order.
Mike Hussey led the fightback with a watchful 45 before he was run out and Brad Hogg (23 not out), Brett Lee [Images] (17) and James Hopes (15) all chipped in with valuable contributions.