CRICKET / On a hit-the-deck wicket, its bowlers err and batsmen are left hopping around

The pitch at the Gabba offered speed and lift but the Indian pacemen erred by bowling a fuller length and over-employing the slower delivery.

This was a hit-the-deck wicket where the traditional Australian three-quarters length would have been effective. The Aussie pace pack showed how to utilise the surface in the evening by employing their shoulder and wrist and getting the ball to land on the seam.

After the Indian pacemen disappointed, the batting, lacking application, caved in against some well-directed seam bowling. Rebounding from two successive setbacks, Australia outplayed India, pursuing 289, by 110 runs to win with a bonus point here on Sunday.

Australia now has 14 points from five matches. India has 10 from five and Sri Lanka, seven from four in the Commonwealth Bank triangular ODI series.

Five for Hilfenhaus

The Australian pacemen, indeed, adapted to the conditions and Man of the Match Ben Hilfenhaus, essentially a swing bowler, cut the ball both ways and hit the pitch hard to finish with five for 33.

Apart from skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (56) — he brought his bat-speed to the fore and thwacked Brett Lee for a rousing six over long-off — no other Indian batsman offered a serious fight.

The Indian captain ran into trouble with the over-rate again with the Australian innings extending more than 20 minutes beyond scheduled time.

The Indians lost ground rapidly on the chase. Gautam Gambhir, not getting to the pitch of the ball, succumbed to a quick Brett Lee delivery outside off.

Virat Kohli was put down at third man by Xavier Doherty off Hilfenhaus. But the same fielder made no mistake off the next delivery when he held on to a Sachin Tendulkar uppercut. The maestro, who suffered a shin injury while fielding, was struck on the helmet too by a mean lifter from Lee.

Rohit's technical limitations against pace and deviation on surfaces of this nature were evident when he, playing away from his body, edged Lee to 'keeper Wade.

There was an exchange of words between Wade and Rohit before skipper Ponting calmed things down.

And Kohli edged a Hilfenhaus leg-cutter to a diving David Hussey in the slips; the decision was referred but replays showed Hussey had taken the catch cleanly.

Left-handers Suresh Raina — he got behind the line and struck Mitchell Starc for a stunning six over the sight-screen — Ravindra Jadeja and Irfan Pathan promised before departing without making an impact.

For Australia, the fiery Lee impressed. He ran in with short strides and consequently released with an arm that was higher. There was terrific carry as the ball crashed into Wade's gloves.

In the afternoon, apart from Umesh Yadav, there was hardly any pace on the ball as Dhoni collected it.

Under the circumstances, it was surprising why Yadav, the Indian bowler best suited for the surface, was introduced only in the 23rd over.

He should have bowled much earlier.

Puzzling captaincy

Dhoni has batted with intelligence and flair but this was a day when his captaincy seemed puzzling. For instance, Jadeja, in the side as a left-arm spinning all-rounder, did not send down a single over.

While the shorter boundaries at the Gabba might have dissuaded Dhoni from selecting an additional spinner — India left out off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin to go in with a four-man pace attack — Jadeja should have bowled ahead of the part-time spinners.

Raina was rather tidy with his off-spin and Rohit, another occasional offie, prised out Wade with a change in trajectory, but Jadeja should have been given a run with the ball.

Given its collapse against Sri Lanka at Sydney, Australia required a strong start after Ponting won the toss.

India missed an opportunity when a diving Rohit at second slip grassed Wade off Zaheer in the game's opening over.

The openers put on 70 in 13 overs.

David Warner muscled the ball, using his powerful wrists to strike Zaheer over long-on for the maximum.

The southpaw made 43 off 46 deliveries before being picked up at mid-wicket off Irfan Pathan.

Torrid form

Ponting's torrid form continued when he was held at deep square-leg attempting to whip Zaheer. The runs from the ‘Punter' have dried up in the ODIs.

Peter Forrest — he used his feet admirably and drove with poise — and Michael Hussey — the southpaw cut and pulled with panache — consolidated Australia's position.

India failed to seize chances and Hussey, on 32, was put down by Yadav at mid-off off Zaheer.

There was a moment of concern too after Dhoni appealed for a stumping against Hussey off Raina. The replays showed the batsman was well in but third umpire Bruce Oxenford pressed the wrong button.

Hussey was on his way to the pavilion, when standing umpire Simon Taufel called the batsman back.

Dhoni, not amused, had a word with Taufel.

Hussey (59) and Forrest (52) fell attempting to clout Pathan on the leg-side; the left-armer picked up three wickets but the element of threat was missing from his bowling.

David Hussey (26 not out) and Daniel Christian (30 not out) cashed in during the end overs when Vinay Kumar over-used the slower delivery and Pathan lost his line.

Australia: M. Wade c & b Rohit 45 ( 67b, 2x4, 1x6 ), D. Warner c Tendulkar b Pathan 43 ( 46b, 5x4, 1x6 ), R. Ponting c Pathan b Zaheer 7 ( 26b ), P. Forrest c Kohli b Pathan 52 ( 71b, 3x4 ), M. Hussey c Raina b Pathan 59 ( 52b, 6x4 ), D. Hussey (not out) 26 ( 20b, 1x4, 1x6 ), D. Christian (not out) 30 ( 18b, 5x4 ), Extras (b-2, lb-12, w-12): 26, Total (for five wkts in 50 overs): 288.

Fall of wickets: 1-70 (Warner), 2-83 (Ponting), 3-117 (Wade), 4-217 (M. Hussey), 5-223 (Forrest).

India bowling: Zaheer 10-0-46-1, Vinay 10-0-60-0, Pathan 10-0-61-3, Raina 10-0-44-0, Yadav 7-0-46-0, Rohit 3-0-17-1.

India: G. Gambhir c Wade b Lee 5 ( 5b, 1x4 ), S. Tendulkar c Doherty b Hilfenhaus 3 ( 12b ), V. Kohli c D. Hussey b b Hilfenhaus 12 ( 25b ), Rohit c Wade b Lee 0 ( 5b ), S. Raina c Wade b Christian 28 ( 41b, 1x4, 1x6 ), M.S. Dhoni c Christian b Hilfenhaus 56 ( 84b, 2x4, 1x6 ), R. Jadeja c Forrest b Starc 18 ( 35b, 1x4 ), I. Pathan c Wade b Hilfenhaus 19 ( 27b, 1x4, 1x6 ), V. Kumar b Lee 6 ( 12b ), Zaheer c Wade b Hilfenhaus 9 ( 11b, 2x4 ), U. Yadav (not out) 6 ( 6b, 1x4 ); Extras (lb-4, w-10, nb-2): 16, Total (in 43.3 overs): 178.

Fall of wickets: 1-8 (Gambhir), 2-15 (Tendulkar), 3-16 (Rohit), 4-36 (Kohli), 5-82 (Raina), 6-114 (Jadeja), 7-149 (Dhoni), 8-162 (V. Kumar), 9-168 (Pathan).

Australia bowling: Hilfenhaus 9.3-1-33-5, Lee 10-0-49-3, Christian 6-0-27-1, Starc 8-0-36-1, Doherty 10-0-29-0.

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