Aussie resolve to the fore

Star performer Australia’s Michael Clarke-AP

The Australian bowlers responded to the challenge of bowling out India without spearhead Brett Lee, who was rested. S. Dinakar reports.

It was obvious that Mahendra Singh Dhoni was disappointed at the post-match press conference. He had suffered a bout of cramps and was forced to opt for a runner. Then, he was run-out. Close matches can change course with a single throw.

The skipper was managing the chase well when he played James Hopes to deep mid-off and called for a run. Matthew Hayden knocked the stumps with a direct hit. A moment of hesitation from Rohit Sharma saw him finishing short despite a desperate dive. The runner has an advantage in setting off for a run since he does not, like a striker, have to wait for a moment to regain balance after playing a stroke.

“I don’t want to blame Rohit. Such things can happen. There was noise from the crowd. But we should not repeat such mistakes,” said Dhoni.

His team had lost a low-scoring duel to the Aussies by a sizeable margin — 50 runs.

“The batsmen should have shown greater application. They have to take greater responsibility upon themselves,” said Dhoni. This was a match India could have won. Instead, they conceded a bonus point.

The shot selection of the Indian batsmen was disappointing. Yuvraj Singh was just finding form when he perished to a delivery lacking in length from left-arm Chinaman bowler Brad Hogg. The left-hander should have done better.

The Indians had bowled excellently to restrict Australia to 203 for nine on a surface where the bounce was more than a typical Adelaide Oval pitch. But Ricky Ponting still called it a ‘flat’ pitch.

Ponting was right; there was bounce but not enough seam movement to worry the batsmen. The batting sides must have made more runs.

In the event, only Man of the Match Michael Clarke went past the 50-run-mark in the match. “The bowlers of all teams have been doing well. But the pitches have been good,” said Ponting.

Ishant Sharma sent down a delivery at 153 kmph and bowled with speed, control and heart. His off-stump line and bounce made him difficult to handle. Munaf Patel bowled with good rhythm in his comeback match and Irfan Pathan swung and lured the batsmen to scalp four. S. Sreesanth recovered from a poor start and Harbhajan Singh was steady.

It did seem that the Indian ploy of playing five bowlers had paid off. Virender Sehwag did not recover in time from a side strain and the Indians took the risk of going with an extra bowler.

“The Indians were a batsman short and we knew we had a chance,” said Ponting. The Aussie bowlers responded to the challenge of bowling out India without spearhead Brett Lee, who was rested. Mitchell Johnson bowled with pace and precision. The left-armer used the short ball effectively; these deliveries were aimed at the batsman’s chest than over his shoulder.

The Aussies retained their intensity throughout. The bowling and fielding once again made up for some ordinary batting. “We have been winning without playing our best cricket,” conceded Ponting.

The Aussies showed resolve on the field, if not with the willow where Ponting failed again after opting to bat.

Sachin Tendulkar, playing across to Nathan Bracken, was adjudged leg-before. The Indians struggled to recover. The ploy to send Irfan Pathan at No. 3 failed and Robin Uthappa could have been a better choice. The young batsmen succumbed to the stress. Johnson and Bracken were spot on. James Hopes surprised the batsmen with some lively pace bowling; he has a deceptive short ball. Once again, Hogg’s variety and spin hurt the Indians.

“The Indians are in a rebuilding phase in ODI cricket,” said Ponting. He also praised Clarke for putting his hand up when the side needed runs. In a match where batsmen from both sides were guilty of poor stroke selection, Clarke applied himself. He rallied with Hopes and Hogg after Australia had lost half its side for just over 70 runs.

Adam Gilchrist effected five dismissals behind the stumps and ended the match with a spectacular, diving catch under the lights.

What a cricketer! THE SCORES

CB Series, seventh match, Australia v India, Adelaide Oval, February 17. Australia won by 50 runs.

Australia: A. Gilchrist b I. Sharma 15; M. Hayden c Dhoni b Pathan 13; R. Ponting c R. Sharma b Patel 10; M. Clarke c I. Sharma b Pathan 79; A. Symonds c Uthappa b I. Sharma 3; M. Hussey c Dhoni b Pathan 5; J. Hopes st. Dhoni b Harbhajan 19; G. Hogg (run out) 32; M. Johnson (not out) 9; N. Bracken c Dhoni b Pathan 0; S. Clark (not out) 8; Extras (lb-2, w-6, nb-2) 10. Total (for nine wkts., in 50 overs) 203.

Fall of wickets: 1-25, 2-41, 3-43, 4-50, 5-73, 6-112, 7-184, 8-187, 9-187.

India bowling: Sreesanth 8-0-35-0; I. Sharma 9-1-32-2; Patel 9-1-31-1; Pathan 10-1-41-4; Harbhajan 10-0-40-1; Yuvraj 4-0-22-0.

India: G. Gambhir c Ponting b Johnson 34; S. Tendulkar lbw b Bracken 5; I. Pathan c Hayden b Hopes 14; R. Sharma c Gilchrist b Hopes 1; Yuvraj Singh c Clark b Hogg 26; M. Dhoni (run out) 37; R. Uthappa c Gilchrist b Johnson 18; Harbhajan Singh c Gilchrist b Johnson 4; S. Sreesanth st. Gilchrist b Hogg 1; I. Sharma (not out) 2; M. Patel c Gilchrist b Bracken 0; Extras (lb-2, w-8, nb-1) 11. Total (in 41.2 overs) 153.

Fall of wickets: 1-20, 2-55, 3-59, 4-59, 5-115, 6-134, 7-141, 8-150, 9-152.

Australia bowling: Bracken 7.2-1-21-2; Clark 8-1-33-0; Johnson 10-1-42-3; Hopes 6-3-16-2; Hogg 8-1-30-2; Symonds 2-0-9-0.