India was down and dusted it seems when Skipper MS Dhoni got out at mid on to reduce the score to 186 for 6 in their chase of 293. The rest of the match was about the final rites to be performed by the visiting side but little did they know that they were in the danger of losing the match when it came to the final three overs. Harbhajan Singh and Praveen Kumar were expected to swing across a few and get themselves out but today their adventure lasted little too long for Australia’s comfort and India went down fighting by just the 4 runs in the 1st ODI at Vadodara.
Harbhajan Singh (49 from 31 balls with 4 fours and 3 sixes) and Praveen Kumar (40 not out from 32 balls with 5 fours and a six) put on a record 8th wicket partnership of 84 which really scared the Aussies towards the end of the match. It was the highest ever partnership for the 8th wicket for India against Australia. The Indian chase started well but the brakes were put on when Sehwag (13) got caught behind playing across to Lee and Tendulkar (12) drove one uppishly to short covers off Watson. The homeside had some repair work to do from 45 for 2 in the 9th over.
Although India lost its two biggest wickets, they could still stay in the hunt through a steady partnership between Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli. The two did a fabulous job until Kohli lost his cool and holed out to long off and yet again failing to convert a start into a bigger score. He made 30 from 41 balls in a partnership of 58. Gambhir continued to stay long at the crease and got a partnership going with Skipper MS Dhoni. Just when India decided to up the ante by taking the batting powerplay in the 35th over, came a triple blow that sunk their chances.
The first ball of the batting powerplay saw Gambhir (68 from 85 balls with 6 fours and a six) miss a low full toss from Johnson to get out lbw. Raina followed him two overs later after getting foxed by a well disguised slower one from the same bowler. Raina had raised India’s hopes after a smashing pull off Watson for a six but his stay was limited to just 10 balls. An over after Raina’s exit, came what was the final blow for India with MS Dhoni (34 from 46 balls whacking one straight to mid on off Watson. The last recognised batsman – Ravindra Jadeja was lbw in an attempted sweep off Hauritz. It was at 201 for 7 in the 40th over that the pair of Harbhajan and Praveen Kumar came together.
The match became seriously interesting when the pair got the equation to 42 needed to win from 18 balls. The 48th over was taken for 13 runs and the 49th over from Watson was taken for nothing less than 20 runs thanks to 3 fours and a six. Watson was very generous in dishing out wide full tosses to both Harbhajan and Praveen. India needed just 9 runs from the final over to be bowled by Siddle but the chances were lost when Harbhajan Singh got cleaned up playing across the line leaving the equation to 8 from 4. The homeside could pick up just three singles off the remaining balls to go down by four runs.
The bowling from the Aussies for most part of the match was good. Nathan Hauritz got the ball to turn a lot, his figures were 9-1-34-1. Brett Lee for some reason was underbowled with Ponting using him only for two spells of three overs each. Earlier Johnson gave a big scare for his team when he twisted his ankle but stayed there to bowl 9 overs without any problem. The Man of the Match award went to Michael Hussey for his breezy knock.