SPORT

Martyn shows the way with masterly century

Australia's Damien Martyn, who scored a century, pulls Yuvraj Singh of India during their match in the triangular series at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Saturday. — Photos: Vivek Bendre

Australia's Damien Martyn, who scored a century, pulls Yuvraj Singh of India during their match in the triangular series at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Saturday. — Photos: Vivek Bendre  

Mumbai Nov. 1. Australia's cricketers play their parts very well at most times. Individually they let their talent flourish, come out in flying colours and thereby turn into a cohesive bunch to chalk out clear-cut victories. Quite remarkably they turn the tables on their opponents when facing a bit of pressure.

Arriving into India for the TVS Cup tri-series with its bowling resources immensely diminished, Australia's task was cut out. It's bowling was exposed and was beaten at Gwalior, but within a week's they have rebounded with vigour and have been clever. In the forefront of its convincing win against India at the Wankhede on Saturday night was Damien Martyn and left-arm spinner Michael Clarke.

For his batting performance alone Martyn earned the big points. It was a masterly effort (100,119 balls, 10 x 4s, 1 x 6) from him in every sense. The Western Australian guided his team after Neil Mallender declared Ricky Ponting leg before and departed from the scene only when he had secured a near match-winning total. Following him closely on the points table was left arm spinner Michael Clarke, who was picked in the eleven at the expense of Ian Harvey.

There was no hint whatsoever from Ponting on the eve of the match that Harvey will be rested, stressing a point that in the present circumstances the flexible rotation policy is not what he was thinking. Clarke's inclusion in the eleven was made known at the toss and it might have just about come as a surprise to the home team. A combined effort by Sachin Tendulkar and Ajit Agarkar ejected him out after he had faced two balls.

It was revenge time when Clarke was called upon to bowl his left-arm stuff to the master batsman, who had seen Virender Sehwag trapped leg before in the first ball of the India innings by Nathan Bracken and had completed his half-century. Just as he was getting into his stroke production vein, Tendulkar took his chance, just as he did against England's Ashley Giles in the NatWest final last summer. The result was the same; Clarke turned the ball a bit and hit the top of the off stump.

The flicker of hope in the match turning into a contest with Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid trying to manipulate the third-wicket stand disappeared out of sight. The pair added 99 runs; thereafter it was windfall for Clarke, Bracken and Australia as it romped home by 77 runs to head the points table.

Australia's Michael Clarke celebrates with wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist after dismissing India captain Rahul Dravid.

Australia's Michael Clarke celebrates with wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist after dismissing India captain Rahul Dravid.  

Earlier Martyn showed the way for Australia to set a stiff target for the home team. He took charge of the proceedings after his captain left the scene and after Gilchrist had indulged in some audacious stroke-making spree. He was the solid and stabilising force in Australia's middle innings consilidation, keeping the supply of runs constant before the teams adjourned for supper break. His near three-hour essay in which he delivered his fifth century in the short version of the game took Australia some runs short of the first 300 mark in the three nation series.

Martyn batting approach is based on sound technique, solid temperament and an attack emanating just as an extension of offering the full face of the bat in defence. He did not take liberties on a surface that seemed to have gradually declined. He allowed his ally in the fourth wicket stand, Andrew Symonds to get the better of the Indian spinners.

Shot making was not an easier proposition at all when the Indian spinners were seen in action. Dravid's first major move to toss the ball to Sehwag gave a clue to what he thought about the pitch. Sehwag was cut and pulled immediately for three fours , but the specialist offspinner in Harbhajan did produce a vital breakthrough when Mohammad Kaif showed anticipation to convert a chance at cover.

The departure of Symonds resulted in Michael Bevan joining forces with Martyn. Though the run rate dipped under six an over, the Australian pair was always in control. Martyn who had begun with a back cut of Kumble showed soft hands to keep the ball down and lifted straight down the ground meeting the ball at its pitch. When Zaheer Khan returned for his second spell, Martyn cut him to size again.

In the afternoon even as the last empty seats were filled up for the Wankhede to wear a full and colourful look on a bright afternoon, Gilchrist cut loose to provide a rampaging start. Peaceful starts are a rarity when two left handers like Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden go out to start an innings. Three years ago the same pair had led their team to a victory march in the first Test. On Saturday afternoon, the big Queenslander fell victim for a first ball duck in a first over of the match that saw Zaheer Khan transgress line and length virtues five times. But Gilchrist showed no signs of relinquishing charge at the first instance of a setback.

AUSTRALIA
A. Gilchrist c Kaif b Harbhajan 41
(30b, 8x4)
M. Hayden c Yuvraj b Zaheer0
(1b)
R. Ponting lbw b Agarkar 31
(37b, 3x4)
D. Martyn b Agarkar100
(119b, 10x4, 1x6)
A. Symonds c Harbhajan b Yuvraj48
(59b, 4x4, 1x6)
M. Bevan c Kaif b Agarkar42
(57b, 5x4)
M. Clarke (run out)2
(2b)
A. Bichel b Agarkar1
(2b)
B. Hogg (not out)0
(0b)
Extras (b-4, lb-2, w-8, nb-7)21
Total (for eight wkts. in 50 overs) 286
Fall of wickets: 1-9 (Hayden), 2-55 (Gilchrist), 3-93 (Ponting), 4-171 (Symonds), 5-(282) (Martyn), 6-283 (Bevan), 7-286 (Clarke), 8-286 (Bichel). India bowling: Zaheer 7-0-64-1 (nb-3, w-5), Sehwag 4-0-28-0 (nb-1), Harbhajan 10-0-44-1, Kumble 8-0-50-0 (nb-1), Agarkar 9-0-37-4 (w-1), Tendulkar 4-0-21-0 (nb-2, w-2), Yuvraj 8-1-36-1. SCOREBOARD
INDIA
V. Sehwag lbw b Bracken 0
(1b)
S. Tendulkar b Clarke68
(76b, 10x4)
V.V.S. Laxman c Gilchrist b Bichel21
(36b, 4x4)
R. Dravid c Bichel b Clarke59
(70b, 8x4)
Yuvraj Singh c Gilchrist b Clarke9
(15b, 1x4)
M. Kaif c Gilchrist b Bracken10
(15b)
A. Agarkar c Symonds b Bracken2
(10b)
P. Patel c Clarke b Hogg16
(31b)
Harbhajan c & b Bracken6
(7b, 1x4)
A. Kumble b Clarke6
(10b, 1x4)
Z. Khan (not out)5
(8b, 1x4)
Extras (lb-2, w-4, nb-1)7
Total (in 46.2 overs) 209

Fall of wickets: 1-0 (Sehwag), 2-38 (Laxman), 3-137 (Tendulkar), 4-153 (Yuvraj), 5-172 (Dravid), 6-175 (Kaif), 7-178 (Agarkar), 8-185 (Harbhajan), 9-200 (Kumble).

Australia bowling: Bracken 10-2-29-4 (w-1), Williams 5-0-20-0 (nb-1), Bichel 6-0-31-1 (w-3), Symonds 10-0-57-0, Hogg 5.2-0-28-1, Clarke 10-0-42-4 (w-1).

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