SPORT

India tames the Aussies

Sachin Tendulkar, who laid the foundation for India's convincing victory, lifts Ian Harvey of Australia for a six in the second match of the TVS cricket tri-series in Gwalior on Sunday. Sachin went on to score a century, his 35th in one-day internationals. He was declared the `Man of the Match'. — Photo: V.V. Krishnan

Sachin Tendulkar, who laid the foundation for India's convincing victory, lifts Ian Harvey of Australia for a six in the second match of the TVS cricket tri-series in Gwalior on Sunday. Sachin went on to score a century, his 35th in one-day internationals. He was declared the `Man of the Match'. — Photo: V.V. Krishnan  

GWALIOR OCT. 26. Adam Gilchrist should take a vow never to hit across the line. His error of judgement pushed Australia to defeat in its day-night match of the tri-series against India at the overflowing Roop Singh Stadium, which was earlier treated to a century each by Sachin Tendulkar and V.V.S. Laxman.

Faced with a competitive target of 284, the Australians were cruising when Gilchrist, in control until that dreadful moment, cross-batted Zaheer Khan who had returned for a second spell. Gilchrist lost his wicket and India grabbed the generous offering to stage a comeback after the Australians had responded with a rousing opening stand.

Zaheer bowled an incisive second spell and scalped Andrew Symonds too, while Anil Kumble pulled off a similar act, accounting for the dangerous Ricky Ponting, who was foxed by a ball which stopped, and a determined Matthew Hayden, who also gifted his wicket by stepping out. This time Parthiv Patel did not bungle behind the stumps.

And then two wickets in an over by Virender Sehwag hastened the Australian debacle. India had outplayed Australia comprehensively tonight, striking a combination which contributed collectively with some imaginative captaincy by Rahul Dravid.

The Indians had looked quite ordinary when Gilchrist and Hayden began on a racy note with the former, in his inimitable style, smashing some breathtaking shots. But he overdid the aggression bit and the team just slid from a position of strength. Australia's batting collapse was quite against the character of the side, which had a rare off day in a long time.

Earlier, India, riding on the brilliance of Tendulkar and Laxman, prospered when the batsmen adapted brilliantly to produce a commanding partnership, laying the foundation for the innings to take a winning shape.

In hitting his 35th one-day century Tendulkar set the tempo for Laxman to emulate and compile his second century in one-day Internationals.

There was a method to the scoring pattern and Tendulkar, in a manner befitting his reputation, took charge to make his first century at this venue.

It had the trademark Tendulkar stamp and it had the Aussies in a spin after the early dismissal of Sehwag to an ambitious drive away from the body.

Tendulkar's determination was visible in the careful approach that marked his batting. He was, for a change, willing to play the waiting game and there was little chance for the opposition once Tendulkar had made up his mind to occupy the crease.

Laxman, as is his style, was on the job and matched his partner with some sensible batting. The desire to push the rate did evoke a few adventurous shots from this graceful batsman but he was quick to check himself. He had to prove quite a few critics wrong and Laxman grabbed this chance to once again announce his credentials to play the shorter version of the game too with the same authority that embellishes his approach in Tests.

There were murmurs of Tendulkar's loss of form even though he did not give credence to any suggestions that he had lost his focus. His concentration was fierce this afternoon and the Australians knew they were in for a tough time. Tendulkar was middling the ball early enough to put himself in a position to dictate and he guided the Indian innings with an authoritative show.

Credit to Laxman as well. He had thrown his wicket away in the last match against New Zealand and had taken a pledge to make amends. It was a matter of minor adjustments and Laxman avoided playing the ball in the air. He had begun the series with the vow to make the bowlers earn his wicket and his demonstration here spoke for the man's resolve.

CENTURIONS COOLING OFF: After failing in the Tests, India's Sachin Tendulkar's thirst for runs is obvious. Here, his team-mate Laxman helps him quench his thirst during the break in the second match of the triangular series against Australia at Gwalior on Sunday. — Photo: V.V. Krishnan

CENTURIONS COOLING OFF: After failing in the Tests, India's Sachin Tendulkar's thirst for runs is obvious. Here, his team-mate Laxman helps him quench his thirst during the break in the second match of the triangular series against Australia at Gwalior on Sunday. — Photo: V.V. Krishnan  

The sight of Adam Gilchrist rushing, during the over, to pat Laxman on the shoulder for his brilliant hundred was a fitting tribute to his classy knock. To have evoked a response from the opponent made Laxman's innings a special one.

The Australians did not quite come to terms with the challenge. The bowlers tried hard when the batsmen decided to introduce some aggression once they had gauged the pace of the wicket. Strokemaking was not an easy task but Laxman and Tendulkar were in superb form. The gaps were tempting and the pair gradually gained complete control.

Laxman's drives were divine and Tendulkar's placement aesthetic. The Australians ran out of ideas and they were reduced to defensive measures as India, electing to bat, threatened to post a total past 300.

But for some inexplicable reason, Laxman and Tendulkar slowed down the game and allowed the bowlers to breathe freely in the middle overs.

The Australian bowlers, however, failed to capitalise on the opportunities. After Tendulkar fell to a compulsive steer and Laxman ran himself out in response to Yuvraj Singh's call, the pressure was on the Indians.

Here, Yuvraj produced a stunning performance and played an ideal cameo with some sensational shots square of the wicket. His was a significant contribution since the bowlers adopted methods to deny but he waded into the attack remarkably.

Agarkar too slammed the ball around as India plundered 90 runs in the last 10 overs to set up an exciting finish.

INDIA
V. Sehwag c Hayden b Bracken 0
(3b)
S. Tendulkar c Gilchrist b Bracken100
(119b, 9x4, 1x6)
V.V.S. Laxman (run out)102
(134b, 9x4)
Yuvraj Singh c Symonds b Williams44
(43b, 6x4, 1x6)
A. Agarkar c Symonds b Bracken22
(10b, 4x4)
M. Kaif (not out)1
(1b)
Extras (lb-8, w-6)14
— —
Total (for five wkts. in 50 overs) 283
— —

Fall of wickets: 1-1 (Sehwag), 2-191 (Tendulkar), 3-255 (Laxman), 4-263 (Yuvraj), 5-283 (Agarkar).

Australia bowling: Bracken 10-0-53-3 (w-2), Williams 10-0-67-1 (w-2), Bichel 7-0-39-0 (w-1), Harvey 8-0-46-0, Hogg 10-0-47-0, Symonds 5-0-21-0 (w-1).

AUSTRALIA
A. Gilchrist b Zaheer 83
(79b, 8x4)
M. Hayden st. Patel b Kumble47
(76b, 8x4)
R. Ponting c & b Kumble 2
(5b)
D. Martyn b Sehwag16
(26b, 1x4)
A. Symonds lbw b Zaheer1
(6b)
M. Bevan b Sehwag18
(28b, 2x4)
I. Harvey b Tendulkar4
(10b)
B. Hogg st. Patel b Harbhajan29
(30b, 1x4)
A. Bichel c Kaif b Zaheer14
(20b, 1x6)
B. Williams (not out)11
(16b)
N. Bracken (not out)7
(10b)
Extras (lb-4, w-4, nb-6)14
— —
Total (for nine wkts. in 50 overs) 246
— —

Fall of wickets: 1-132 (Gilchrist), 2-135 (Ponting), 3-140 (Hayden), 4-141 (Symonds), 5-176 (Martyn), 6-177 (Bevan), 7-185 (Harvey), 8-225 (Hogg), 9-229 (Bichel).

India bowling: Zaheer 10-0-49-3 (nb-3, w-2), Agarkar 6-0-42-0 (w-1), Kumble 10-2-28-2 (nb-1), Harbhajan 10-0-43-1 (w-1), Tendulkar 6-0-39-1, Sehwag 7-0-36-2 (nb-1), Yuvraj 1-0-5-0 (nb-1).

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