Winning with a lot to spare

Andrew Symonds, who made a blistering 89, with the Man of the Match Trophy.-PTI

In the third Future Cup ODI in Hyderabad, the Aussies made all the right moves and won the key moments of the duel. S. Dinakar reports.

Cricket is a lot about mind-set. About how a team approaches a match. The Aussies have been positive, while the Indians have been mostly negative.

This also has to do a lot with confidence. The Aussies have made winning a habit, while the Indians alternate between periods of inspiration and spells of uninspired cricket.

In the third Future Cup ODI in Hyderabad, the Aussies made all the right moves and won the key moments of the duel. India, sucked into a unhealthy debate about the seniors and the juniors, appeared to be under a siege mentally. The brave Yuvraj made a defiant hundred of thundering strokes and he was an exception.

The Aussies backed themselves, opted to bat under a cloud cover at a venue that has provided appreciable early assistance to the pacemen in the morning.

The Indians went in with a bowler less, paid the price. Picking an extra batsman was a ploy that backfired.

Aussie captain Ricky Ponting was right when he dwelt on aggression. Aggression, he pointed out, was about how hard a side played its cricket and not about aggressive physical postures or verbal duels.

The Aussies are not entirely sinless here, but Ponting had a point. When they play, there is no quarter asked, none given.

The team had also won the battle of the middle overs. When Australia batted, this period of the innings was used for consolidation before launching into the bowling in the last 10 overs.

When the Aussies bowled, the pressure was maintained in the middle overs after the early strikes, with left-arm Chinaman bowler Brad Hogg of guile and variations breathing down on the batsmen. It was a crucial moment of the contest when he bowled Sachin Tendulkar, who was done in by the extra spin while making room for a cut.

The Indian bowlers, in contrast, have been unable to pick wickets at regular intervals in the middle overs. This meant that Australia had wickets in the end overs for the final launch. On the other hand, India was bleeding when the last 10 overs commenced. This essentially has been the difference between the sides.

Yuvraj Singh’s fine century was the highlight of the Indian innings.-P. V. SIVAKUMAR

At the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium, the margin of victory — 47 runs — was misleading. The Indians were never really in the hunt after the Aussies raced to 290 on a pitch where the odd delivery kept low.

Yuvraj’s 115-ball 121 was a gem though. The left-hander timed his strokes, revealed greater poise and body balance, but was left without support. The Aussies had caused too much damage early on.

With Sourav Ganguly dropped — this meant India would be without its foremost ODI pair of Tendulkar and the Dada — the Aussies were able to make the early inroads.

India needed a start on the chase, but was rocked by Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson. The mercurial Lee swung the ball from a fuller length. Left-armer Johnson was zestful and there was pressure from both ends with the new ball. This is a right-left combination with possibilities.

India was soon reduced to 13 for three. Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa committed the folly of playing across the line. The younger batsmen were undone by the length and movement.

Earlier, Man of the Match Andrew Symonds’ 67-ball 89 was an effort of both calm and some brutal hitting. Hayden and Gilchrist gathered 76 in 13.2 overs after Australia won the toss.

The Indians fought back with off-spinner Harbhajan Singh bowling a tight spell of quickish off-spin from an off-stump line. However, the Aussies kept finding partnerships, the 123-run association between Symonds and Clarke being the hub. A champion side keeps finding answers in tough situations.

THE SCORES

Third ODI, Hyderabad, October 5, 2007. Australia won by 47 runs.

Australia: A. Gilchrist b Pathan 29; M. Hayden c Dhoni b Pathan 60; R. Ponting c Sreesanth b Yuvraj 25; M. Clarke c Pathan b Zaheer 59; A. Symonds c Uthappa b Sreesanth 89; B. Hodge b Zaheer 3; J. Hopes c Dravid b Sreesanth 11; B. Lee (not out) 0; Extras (b-2, lb-3, w-9) 14. Total (for seven wkts., in 50 overs) 290.

Fall of wickets: 1-76, 2-112, 3-135, 4-258, 5-263, 6-290, 7-290.

India bowling: Zaheer 10-1-61-2; Sreesanth 9-0-58-2; Pathan 10-0-57-2; Harbhajan 10-1-38-0; Yuvraj 7-0-49-1; Tendulkar 4-0-22-0.

India: G. Gambhir lbw b Lee 6; S. Tendulkar b Hogg 43; R. Uthappa lbw b Johnson 0; R. Dravid c Hayden b Lee 0; Yuvraj b Johnson 121; M. Dhoni c Gilchrist b Lee 33; R. Sharma c Lee b Hopes 1; I. Pathan lbw b Hogg 3; Harbhajan (not out) 19; Zaheer Khan c & b Hogg 3; S. Sreesanth b Clark 1; Extras (b-1, lb-3, w-8, nb-1) 13. Total (in 47.4 overs) 243.

Fall of wickets: 1-10, 2-11, 3-13, 4-108, 5-173, 6-176, 7-183, 8-219, 9-226.

Australia bowling: Lee 8-1-37-3; Johnson 10-0-51-2; Clark 8.4-1-44-1; Hopes 10-0-43-1; Hogg 9-0-46-3; Hodge 2-0-18-0.