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Symonds's ton sets up Australia's series win
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October 14, 2007 13:38 IST
Last Updated: October 14, 2007 18:26 IST

Australia relied on an all-round display to register a 18-run victory over India in the sixth one-day international in Nagpur on Sunday and take an invincible 4-1 lead in the seven-match series.

After scoring a mammoth 317 for eight in their 50 overs, built on Andrew Symonds' [Images] rollicking unbeaten 107, the Australians held their nerve to restrict the home team to 299 for seven.

The trusted opening pair of Sachin Tendulkar [Images] (72) and Sourav Ganguly [Images] (86) provided the foundation for the chase with a 140-run stand, but the Indians lost the plot in the middle overs.

Robin Uthappa (44 off 28 balls) and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni [Images] (26 off 29 balls) made a last ditch effort to overhaul the target with some lusty hitting but both perished in quick succession in the 49th over to leave India stranded.

Left-arm spinner Brad Hogg [Images] was the pick of the Australian bowlers with impressive figures of four for 49 on a good batting strip at the VCA Stadium.

Mitchell Johnson, who bowled a maiden in the 49th over, chipped in with two for 39, while man of the match Symonds followed up his batting exploits with an economic spell of 10-0-39-0.

The last day-night encounter in Mumbai on Wednesday has now been reduced to academic interest but the hosts would look for a consolation win to reduce the margin.

The home team stared defeat in the face after losing their top five batsmen with 218 on the board in the 41st over, but Uthappa played a superb cameo to raise visions of a great victory.

But his dismissal in the 49th over followed by the departure of Dhoni ended the Indian challenge at 299 for seven, much to the disappointment of a capacity holiday crowd.

The sixth wicket duo brought India close by raising 72 runs in only 46 balls before departing in the space of four balls.

The hosts seemed to lose the plot after Tendulkar's dismissal, who was stumped off Hopes. India then lost the wickets of Ganguly, pinch-hitter Irfan Pathan [Images] (29), the out-of-form Rahul Dravid [Images] (7) and Yuvraj Singh [Images] (6) between the 33rd and 41st over and never really threatened the Aussies.

India need to blame themselves for allowing Symonds to bludgeon his way to a match-winning 88-ball 107 by letting him off twice, on 2 and 39. The Indians dropped opener Adam Gilchrist [Images] (51) too earlier in the innings after the visitors opted to bat.

Symonds, who started slowly before pulverising the bowling with audacious shots, came to the crease when the Aussies were wobbling a bit at 102 for three in the 16th over. He added 75 runs for the fifth wicket with Brad Haddin, back into the eleven for the injured in-form opener Matthew Hayden [Images], and then 90 for the next in 48 balls with Hopes (39).

The missed catches, some wayward bowling and the spate of ground fielding errors enabled Australia to notch up their third plus-300 score in the series and set the hosts an asking rate of 6.36 to win the match.

Australia got off to a flying start, after the loss of makeshift opener Michael Clarke [Images] in the first over, through a breezy 96-run stand in only 85 balls between the Gilchrist (51 in 47 balls with 8 fours) and Ponting (49 in 44 balls with 7 fours and a six).

But the fall of the two well-set batsmen in a short span put the Indians back into the game, before Australia rallied around through the hard-hitting Symonds who smashed four huge sixes off the spinners.

India began the run chase pretty confidently with Tendulkar and Ganguly giving the charge to Mitchell Johnson and Brett Lee [Images].

A flurry of boundaries flowed off the bat of the two senior batsmen who went on to notch their 21st century opening stand.

But Tendulkar once again fell when poised for a century. He lunged out to Hopes and could not regain his crease after missing the ball and was stumped smartly by Gilchrist.

The Mumbai batsman has failed to cross three figures in ODIs since doing so against the West Indies [Images] in January and has fallen in the 90s on four occasions since.

Ponting, who cleverly held back the third powerplay till his departure, asked for it after Tendulkar's departure.

Pathan prospered for a while before getting out. There was then the inexplicable decision to send in out-of-form Dravid at the fall of Pathan and the momentum of the innings climbed down drastically with Ganguly too having slowed down at the other end.

Both batsmen perished in identical fashion, holing out in the deep while trying to clear the fielder.

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