Australia recovered from a wobbly start and smashed 110 runs in the final 10 overs to post a competitive 288 for 5 in their tri-series cricket one-dayer against India here today.
Half centuries by Peter Forrest (52) and Mike Hussey (59) and their century stand for the fourth wicket help set the base before impressive cameos by Daniel Christian and David Hussey lifted Australia to 288 for 5.
Christian (32 off 18 balls) and Hussey (24 off 20 balls) plundered 58 runs from the final five overs, the penultimate over by Vinay Kumar yielding 18 runs.
Irfan Pathan claimed 3 for 61 and the Indian effort was generally good in the field but for sloppy work in the final overs.
Australia made a fine start before they fell into a quagmire in the first half of the innings.
David Warner and Matthew Wade had put on 70 runs for the first wicket by the 13th over before the innings almost came to a standstill.
Warner was set for a long innings with 43 from 46 balls (five fours and a six) before he tamely pushed a leg-stump half volley from Irfan Pathan to the lone fielder on the onside inside the ring.
Stand-in captain Ricky Ponting, with just 11 runs from four previous innings, looked completely out of sorts, getting off the mark of only his 13th delivery before falling on 7, caught in the deep off the probing line of Zaheer Khan.
India wrested control with only 12 runs from five overs of bowling powerplay for the wicket of Ponting, the hundred only coming up in the 25th over, the last 50 having consumed 91 deliveries.
Wade, with apparent intent to anchor the innings, had hit only one four in the first 25 overs and had 33 from 58 balls before he freed his arms and swung Suresh Raina high into the stands for six.
Wade then hit Umesh Yadav for an exquisite four through covers to convey he was ready to shift gears. However, the change of pace of Rohit Sharma, took him out of the equation as he lamely offered a return catch to the part-time bowler.
Wade batted for 67 minutes and hit two fours and a six as Australia slumped to 117 for 3 in the 28th over. It was still a fortuitous knock since he was reprieved by Rohit Sharma, leaping in front of first slip Sachin Tendulkar.
Drama and confusion followed in the 29th over when Suresh Raina dragged Mike Hussey out of his crease in his seventh over and as the batsman missed, Mahendra Singh Dhoni removed the bails.
Indians were certain and celebrations had begun when the third umpire ruled the batsman out.
However, third umpire Bruce Oxenford had pressed the wrong button and soon there was this unusual scene of both onfield umpires, Steve Davis and Billy Bowden running behind the departing Hussey and politely escorting him back to the crease.
A livid Dhoni had some pointed remarks to make to Bowden, the square leg umpire who had referred the decision to third umpire. Mike Hussey at this stage was on 1 and Australia were 119 for 3 in the 29th over.
Australia claimed the batting powerplay in the 36th over with the score being 150 for 3. Much depended on Forrest and Hussey who were batting on 23 and 21 at this stage.
Hussey struck Vinay Kumar for two successive fours but then in the 38th over, he skied Zaheer Khan to mid-off where Umesh Yadav dropped the chance. Hussey was on 32 in the team total 166 for 3.
It also brought up the 50-run stand between Forrest and Hussey for the fourth wicket. In all, 37 runs accrued in the five overs of batting powerplay. Australia were 187 for 3 after 40 overs.
The individual half centuries of the two batsmen came within two overs of each other and with it also the century stand for the fourth wicket. Hussey reached the landmark first, in the 41st over, needing a mere 45 balls and hitting five fours.
A pull for a single off Umesh Yadav in the 43rd over raised Forrest’s 50. He consumed 68 balls and hit three fours in the process. The century stand between the two took 92 balls.
Irfan Pathan claimed both of them in successive overs, Hussey lofting him to deep midwicket and Forrest pulling him to deep square leg.
Hussey made 59 off 52 balls with six fours while Forrest’s 52 came off 71 balls with three fours. Australia were 230 for 5 after 45 overs.
Dhoni was extremely proactive and innovative with his bowling changes, bringing on Umesh Yadav only in the 23rd over. He also got brilliant returns from Suresh Raina who bowled out his 10 overs for only 44 runs.
Even the experiment with Rohit Sharma wasn’t without rewards as he took Wade out from the middle. So much so that regular left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja wasn’t even required to turn his arm over.
In the afternoon, he had also decided to go with four medium-pacers even though the last time India did so was in Dambulla in August, 2010 and Lanka ended up making 299 for 8.
Sachin Tendulkar, fielding in the slips, was hit on his shin by an edge from Peter Forrest off Umesh Yadav in the 25th over. The master batsman, inconvenienced by the hit, soon left the field and wasn’t to be seen on the field again.