India is well set to go 3-1 at Mohali after the Australians crashed to 250 all out on what surely is a beautiful batting pitch. With dew also expected to set in, the advantage seems to be with India. The visitors will have to bowl extremely well and at the same time hope for the Indian batsmen to play poorly to win this match and level the series 2-2.
Put into bat first, the Aussies were stuck in the crease with Praveen Kumar and Ashish Nehra swinging the ball both ways. Shaun Marsh, who was picked in the side as an opener was a flop as he could come up with just 5 from 23 balls in an opening stand of 24 in 7.4 overs. The left hander’s dull innings got to an end by an inswinging yorker from Nehra that defeated his flick shot. Ponting yet again came into the middle with plenty to do to set up the match. The Aussie Captain did exactly that and got his team going in the second powerplay by targeting Ishant Sharma whom he hit for a six and a boundary off his first over. Australia got just 37 from the first 10 overs but in the next 3-4 overs got almost 10 runs an over.
India pegged the Aussies back in the 19th over just when a dangerous partnership was shaping up between Watson and Ponting. It was off spinner Harbhajan Singh who struck gold straightaway with his first ball of the match by getting it to bounce a lot and not spin much to force a thin edge off Watson to MS Dhoni. Watson fell having scored a decent 49 from 52 balls with 6 fours, his partnership with Ponting was worth 64. Ponting found a new partner in Cameron White, who really struggled to keep the tempo going. In the 27th over came a big blow when Ricky Ponting got out for the third time in the series to Ravindra Jadeja! The only difference this time was that he was run out by a direct throw from the deep by the young man with Ponting trying to take a late second run. The Aussie Skipper went back with 52 from 59 balls (5 fours and a six) leaving his team at 123 for 3 in the 27th over.
The next man in, the in-form Michael Hussey played freely and soon put India under pressure with some attacking shots. One of them was a flat whack over long on for a six from Yuvraj but the same bowler got his revenge in his next over. It was an arm ball from Yuve that was pulled straight into the hands of deep mid wicket by Hussey to make the scorecard read 196 for 4 in the 39th over. Hussey stroked his way to 40 from 41 balls. The Indians after that got two more big wickets that of Moises Henriques (stumped off a doosra from Harbhajan) and the well set Cameron White who was run out by Nehra after he was backing too far at the non-striker end. White played a slow innings at the start but in the end got 62 from 71 balls (with 3 fours and a six).
When White fell, the score was 226 for 6 in almost 45 overs and when Johnson’s stumps were shattered by Nehra in the 47th over, the situation looked hopeless for the visiting side. In the end, they could just get to 250 despite a batting powerplay taken between the 44th to the 49th overs. Nehra was outstanding with two spells – one at the start and the other at the slogs, he finished with 3 for 37 along with a crucial run out. Jadeja and Harbhajan played the role of strangulating the Aussies with their crafty variations. The last 10 overs of the innings yielded just the 49 runs at the cost of six wickets!