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’Gabba reverberates to young India tune

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MOMENTS OF GLORY: A brilliant team - Praveen Kumar accounted for the cream of the Australian batting.
MOMENTS OF GLORY: A brilliant team - Praveen Kumar accounted for the cream of the Australian batting.

S. Dinakar

Australia fails to find the right answers; Praveen Kumar is Man of the Match

Brisbane: Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men took flight in the field of dreams here on Tuesday. They bucked the odds and celebrated like a bunch of beginners after clinching a thriller. They also dished out a fearless brand of cricket.

A wave of emotions swept through the arena after Piyush Chawla swooped in on a James Hopes mis-hit off Irfan Pathan in the game’s final over.

Dhoni’s men had become the first Indian team to triumph in the gruelling Australian ODI tri-series. India clinched the best-of-three CB series finals 2-0 with a nine-run verdict at the ’Gabba. Only two deliveries remained when the battling Hopes sank to his knees, a picture of dejection.

The Indians had displayed end-game skills and mental resolve against the World champion. They deserved the triumph and a rousing victory lap. The turning point of the finals arrived in the 26th over of the Australian innings. Matthew Hayden, reprieved early by Dhoni off Sreesanth, was stroking the ball with confidence when he was run-out by the Yuvraj-Harbhajan combination. Soon, a free-stroking Andrew Symonds was trapped leg-before by Harbhajan’s off-break.

Fine catch

A target of 259 appeared distant for the host before the efficient Michael Hussey and Hopes kept the chase alive. Dhoni took a fine low catch to send back Hussey off Sreesanth and India, despite a few brave blows by Hopes, always had its nose in front.

Importantly, the Indians read this ’Gabba pitch better than the Aussies who left out left-arm chinaman bowler Brad Hogg from the eleven for a paceman.

Dhoni retained leg-spinner Piyush Chawla in the side and batted after winning the toss.

There was lack of pace and bounce in the first half of the day\night match. When the Aussies batted, the ball tended to fizz off the surface due to the evening moisture.

Praveen strikes

India struck with the new ball. Praveen Kumar’s three-wicket burst opened the sluice gates for his side. He moved the ball away from Adam Gilchrist with a delivery that left the left-hander. His teammates could have given him a better farewell.

Praveen used his wrist and shoulder effectively to get the ball to skid off the surface. Both Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke, fatally, misread the height of short-pitched deliveries from Praveen while attempting to pull the paceman.

Praveen, adjudged the Man of the Match, does come on to the bat quicker than most batsmen expect. He changed his pace cleverly with an older ball to scalp four in the game. He has immense possibilities.

Spearhead Ishant Sharma could not recover in time from a finger injury, but Sreesanth and Pathan chipped in. Like Praveen, Sreesanth used the slower ball effectively sending down a couple of leg-breaks.

Harbhajan bowled beautifully, spinning the ball and cleverly varying his trajectory. The Indian ground fielding was sharp. It was a team effort from Dhoni’s men.

Pivotal innings

Sachin Tendulkar, the young side’s inspirational senior, once again showed a compelling sense of occasion. His well-constructed 91 (121b, 7x4) proved the pivotal innings of the contest. Crucially, he saw off Brett Lee’s first spell along with a resolute Robin Uthappa. The opening pair put on 94 in 20.5 overs.

Tendulkar might have been lucky when Lee moved the ball away and his scorching hit off Nathan Bracken could not be pouched by Ricky Ponting at short cover. He however, settled down to build an innings of solidity and innovation.

The classical straight drive off a Bracken full length ball and the cheeky steer over the slip off a Mitchell Johnson lifter reflected two aspects of his batting.

With Hogg not in the eleven, Ponting was forced to rely on Clarke’s left-arm spin on this surface; pacemen Stuart Clark and Johnson disappointed.

Tendulkar, eyeing successive hundreds in the finals, misjudged the length of a Clarke delivery. The part-time spinner, switching his line well, also prised out Gautam Gambhir and Rohit Sharma. Yuvraj, striking boldly, till that point was taken in the deep off Andrew Symonds.

India lost momentum but Dhoni (36 off 37 balls) once again rallied with the lower order. These were crucial runs.

Nathan Bracken impressed with his control over seam and swing. He gets bounce with the new ball and moves the older ball off a fuller length.

The left-armer’s change of pace to castle Irfan Pathan highlighted his attribute as a very clever bowler.

Bracken outstanding

The outstanding Bracken — adjudged the Player of the Tournament — was the pick but did not complete his quota of overs. Ponting’s management of overs was not quite spot on.

Second title

It was India’s second title on Australian soil after the World Championship of Cricket crown in 1985.

India became the sixth team to win the tri-series down under. Incidentally, this was the final edition of the tri-series.

SCOREBOARD India: R. Uthappa c Hopes b Clark 30, S. Tendulkar c Ponting b Clarke 91, G. Gambhir c Johnson b Clarke 15, Yuvraj c Hayden b Symonds 38, M.S. Dhoni c Clarke b Bracken 36, Rohit c Symonds b Clarke 2, I. Pathan b Bracken 12, Harbhajan lbw b Lee 3, Praveen c Ponting b Bracken 7, Piyush (not out) 6, S. Sreesanth (not out) 1; Extras (lb-5, w-12): 17; Total (for nine wkts. in 50 overs): 258.

Fall of wickets: 1-94 (Uthappa), 2-121 (Gambhir), 3-175 (Yuvraj), 4-205 (Tendulkar), 5-209 (Rohit), 6-237 (Pathan), 7-240 (Dhoni), 8-249 (Harbhajan), 9-255 (Praveen).

Australia bowling: Lee 10-0-58-1, Bracken 9-1-31-3, Clark 6-0-32-1, Johnson 6-0-33-0, Clarke 10-0-52-3, Symonds 3-0-27-1.

Australia: A. Gilchrist c Dhoni b Praveen 2, M. Hayden (run out) 55, R. Ponting c Yuvraj b Praveen 1, M. Clarke b Praveen 17, A. Symonds lbw b Harbhajan 42, M. Hussey c Dhoni b Sreesanth 44, J. Hopes c Piyush b Pathan 63, B. Lee b Praveen 7, M. Johnson c Dhoni b Sreesanth 8, N. Bracken c Piyush b Pathan 1, S. Clark (not out) 0; Extras (lb-2, w-7): 9; Total (in 49.4 overs): 249.

Fall of wickets: 1-2 (Gilchrist), 2-8 (Ponting), 3-32 (Clarke), 4-121 (Hayden), 5-123 (Symonds), 6-199 (Hussey), 7-228 (Lee), 8-238 (Johnson), 9-247 (Bracken).

India bowling: Praveen 10-2-46-4, Sreesanth 9-0-43-2, Pathan 8.4-0-54-2, Harbhajan 10-0-44-1, Piyush 9-0-45-0, Yuvraj 3-0-15-0.

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