Australia make it to the finals, India almost out

February 27, 2012

Australia booked their finals berth in style, thumping India by 87 runs to go to the top of the points table. They successfully defended a total of 252/9 to register their third win over India in the CB series. They also secured a bonus point with the win, making it the third time they have won with a bonus point over India in this series. With the loss, India’s changes of making it to the finals slimmed further. Dhoni’s side will now have to beat Sri Lanka with a bonus point and hope for their neighbours to lose to Australia if they are to make it to the final stage.

Watson opts to bat in his first match as skipper

Michael Clarke was ruled out for the game due to a persisting back problem. Shane Watson, meanwhile, returned to the side for his first game of the summer after an extended break due to an injury, and he substituted for Clarke as the captain of the side. He won the toss and opted to bat first. India decided to go in with the trio of Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir while Dhoni returned to the side after the one-match ban.

Good start by India:

Praveen Kumar got India off to a good start, picking up the wickets of Watson and the in-form Peter Forrest early. Watson fell on 5, mistiming a pull to give Umesh Yadav at mid on a simple catch while Forrest trying to drive Praveen off the back-foot, played on to the stumps. Australia soon became three down for 57 when Michael Hussey was run-out on 10 due to an indecisive bit of calling by David Warner.

Warner goes after a steady knock:

The situation demanded for a partnership and Warner, who was due for runs, was joined by David Hussey as the pair built steadily for Australia. David Warner went on to register his first half-century of the series and took Australia past the 100-run mark before falling to Ravindra Jadeja on 68. Attempting a sweep, Warner got a top edge and the ball went high in the air. Both Suresh Raina and Irfan Pathan, who ran for the ball, clashed in the process but Raina managed to hold on to a superb catch. Irfan was hurt on his chest and had to walk off the field before returning in a while.

Run-out controversy I:

David Hussey could have been out on 17, obstructing the field, but the on field umpires, after a lengthy discussion with the television unpire, thought otherwise. Wade hit Ashwin to cover where Raina picked up the ball and threw it to the striker’s end and the ball struck Hussey who was trying to make it to the crease. He blocked the ball which was headed towards him, more as a measure of self-defence.

India restrict Australia after a good stand:

The obstructing incident apart, David Hussey was largely untroubled as he put on a good partnership with Matthew Wade to take Australia forward. Wade brought up his second fifty of the series before nicking Umesh Yadav to MS Dhoni to depart on 56. Hussey (54) was the next to fall after getting to his 4th fifty of the series. It was again a case of a well-set batsman falling after reaching his half-century as Hussey became Yadav’s second victim with Dhoni taking his second catch of the game. Later, it was Sehwag’s turn to be amongst the wickets as he dismissed Clint McKay and Brett Lee in quick succession. Daniel Christian did well in the end, scoring an useful 24 before giving Sehwag his third wicket as Australia ended up with a total of 252/9.

Sehwag’s woes continue:

If Australia did not get the start they would have liked with the bat, India too had an unsatisfactory beginning with Sehwag failing yet again. Trying to play Ben Hilfenhaus on the up, Sehwag (5) drove uppishly and the bowler held on to a good catch. Meanwhile, Tendulkar began in a positive fashion, playing his drives confidently. But he got out just when he was looking set to register a good score.

Run-out controversy II:

Tendulkar was run-out on 14 and the dismissal added one more to the list of an incident filled match. Gambhir tapped one to point and took off for a single. Brett Lee, who was the bowler, came in Tendulkar’s way in his attempt to collect the ball. By the time Tendulkar could go around Lee and complete the single, Warner had taken down the stumps. Tendulkar headed back looking completely dejected and frustrated after having a word with the umpires as he felt they could have reversed the decision since Lee came in Tendulkar’s way.

Flurry of wickets:

Gambhir and Kohli tried to build a partnership to steady India but both fell in quick succession to leave India in trouble. Kohli (21) was the first to go, holing out to Christian off Watson, while attempting to whip one across the line. Gambhir (23) tried to drive Clint McKay away from the body but inside-edged the ball which first hit the pad before going on to hit the stumps. India’s chances of staying alive in the game lessened even more when Raina (8) fell to Watson. He too tried to drive away from his body but ended up edging it to the keeper.

India could have been reduced to six down for less than 100 but Watson gave MS Dhoni a lucky break, putting him down off Clint McKay when the Indian skipper was on 2. Earlier in the same over, McKay had induced an outside edge off Ravindra Jadeja but the ball landed short of Watson at first slip. Dhoni and Jadeja managed to take India past 100 before Christian tasted his first success with the ball when Jadeja, trying to punch one towards backward point, outside edged it to Watson who took a sharp catch.

Australia stepped closer to sealing the finals berth when the Indian skipper became the 7th wicket to fall. Dhoni (14) added 22 runs with R Ashwin before he was out leg-before to Hilfenhaus. The decision though was a marginal one as it appeared that the ball might have gone over the stumps although the technology suggested that the ball was just clipping the bail.

A Mini fightback before the collapse:

Ashwin and Irfan Pathan tried to get India back into the game as they put on a steady partnership. While Ashwin gathered the singles and twos, Pathan played the boundary shots including a six off Hilfenhaus. The pair added 30 runs before Ashwin fell to Xavier Doherty on 26. Trying to play one down to fine-leg for a single, Ashwin got a leading edge and stand-in skipper Watson took a simple catch at mid-on. Irfan hit Lee for a glorious straight-batted six over long on before falling to the same bowler. Pathan (22) mis-hit a full toss, getting a top edge to Mike Hussey at deep square leg who took a good catch. Soon it was all over for India and as Doherty picked up his second scalp by dismissing Praveen Kumar for 1. India, bowled out for just 165, could not prevent Australia from taking the bonus point.

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