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India have the final say
March 04, 2008 13:14 IST
Last Updated: March 04, 2008 17:53 IST
India notched their first tri-series triumph on Australian soil when they beat the World champions by nine runs in the second match of the best-of-three finals in the Commonwealth Bank series in Brisbane on Tuesday.
After scoring a competitive 258 for 9, built largely around Sachin Tendulkar's [Images] majestic 91, the Indians held their nerve in some tense dying moments to stop the Australians at 249, with two balls to spare, and clinch the finals by a 2-0 margin.
It was a remarkable display by the Indians, who not only conquered the mighty Australians in their own den but also brought about a happy ending to a turbulent tour, marked by a racism row involving Harbhajan Singh [Images] and a series of on-field bickerings.
India entered the finals of a tri-series Down Under in 1986, 1992 and 2004 but never won a single match on any of those occasions.
When left-arm paceman Irfan Pathan [Images] dismissed James Hopes in the last over scenes of wild celebrations triggered off among the Indian players and supporters at the Gabba.
Australia needed 13 runs in the last over, sent down by Pathan, who tilted the scales in India's favour by getting rid of Nathan Bracken [Images] and Hopes (63), whose lusty hits kept the home team in the hunt.
The young Praveen Kumar was the pick of the Indian bowlers. He scalped four wickets for 46 runs in his ten overs while Sreesanth [Images] and Pathan chipped in with two wickets each.
Praveen rocked the Aussies early in the innings, picking two wickets in his first two overs and later dismissing Michael Clarke [Images] for 17 to reduce them to 32 for 3 by the ninth over.
But the sixth-wicket pair of Mike Hussey (44) and James Hopes kept them in the hunt till the very end with a 76-run stand.
Hussey departed in the 43rd over, caught behind off an inside edge off Sreesanth that was referred to the third umpire, and Australia were still short by 60 runs.
Brett Lee [Images] hit two consecutive fours off Praveen Kumar to bring the equation down to 37 runs from the final five overs. He was bowled by the Uttar Pradesh bowler in the same over and when Sreesanth claimed Mitchell Johnson (8), caught behind the wickets, the equation of 21 runs from 10 balls looked a tall order.
Hopes then hit a mighty six off the penultimate ball of the second last over to leave the equation: 13 runs from the final over.
Earlier,Tendulkar, troubled by a groin niggle in the latter part of the innings, provided the foundation for the Indian innings with a controlled 91.
Tendulkar faced 121 balls and hit seven fours as he gauged the pace of the Gabba pitch to perfection. He put on significant stands of 94 and 54 for the first and third wickets with Robin Uthappa (30) and Yuvraj Singh [Images] (38) respectively before being dismissed in the 40th over at the team's score of 205 for 4.
The day unfolded perfectly for the Indians as they won the toss and opted to bat on a surface overtly favouring batsmen.
The start was a bit slow but solid, as India moved to 50 inside the first 13 overs and were 73 for no loss at the first drinks break after 16.
Uthappa hit the first four of the innings by hoisting Brett Lee in front of square but then clearly played second fiddle to Tendulkar, who, dropped once early in his innings, decided that it after all was going to be his day.
Tendulkar was let off by Ricky Ponting [Images] at short cover off Nathan Bracken when he was on seven and team total 23 for no loss in the seventh over. From then on, he made Australia pay for the lapse.
Tendulkar tapped Lee over point for his first four and then straight drove Stuart Clark to get moving. There was an audacious pull to the left of mid-on and then the flap over slips off Mitchell Johnson which now is his established method of dealing with the left-arm paceman.
Before India raised their 100 in the 22nd over, Uthappa mistimed Stuart Clark and was caught at mid-off for 30, having batted for 49 balls and hit one four.
Gautam Gambhir [Images] (15) suffered his second successive failure when he hoisted Michael Clarke to the long-on fielder but India didn't lose their momentum as Yuvraj Singh, the next man in, soon got into his stride.
Yuvraj began with a straight six off Clark and then lifted a full-toss from Lee over mid-off for a thunderous four. He then had a little battle going with Andrew Symonds, whom he pulled for a four and a six in successive overs.
But, another such attempt off a long-hop against the same bowler proved his undoing as he was caught in the deep for 38 off 38 balls, inclusive of two fours and as many sixes.
Tendulkar departed in the 40th over when he tried to play in the gap between the short mid-off and the bowler but the gentle uppish stroke was nicely held by Ponting, diving to his left.
Clarke picked his third wicket when he had young Rohit Sharma driving straight to Symonds at extra cover for two runs.
India lost a bit of the momentum between the 40th and 45th overs when only 17 runs were scored from five overs, being 220 for 5 after 45 overs.
Dhoni [Images] picked up the cudgels by slamming Lee straight down the ground for a six but the momentum was again arrested when both he and Irfan Pathan (12) lost their wickets in Nathan Bracken's eighth over.
First, Pathan found his stumps in disarray and then Dhoni drove on straight to long-off to get India down in the dumps again. Dhoni batted for 37 balls for his 36 runs and hit two fours and a six.