Australian bowling line up pulled off a superb win under lights at the Adelaide Oval despite the absence of Brett Lee and despite defending a low target of 204! Indian batting failed to hold ground to ruin a wonderful bowling effort early on. They let the Aussies win with a bonus point as well.
Australia won the toss and opted to bat first on what looked to be a good day for batting and a bad one for fielding with the temperatures hovering at about 38 degrees C. India finally made a change to its line-up with Sehwag giving way to Munaf owing to a hip strain. The Aussies had a a mix start with the ball often going past the bat amidst some unplayable deliveries from Ishant and Sreesanth. The latter gave way to Munaf very soon, who was greeted by Hayden with a disdainful shot over mid wicket for a six. The Australian momentum came to a halt when Ishant Sharma disappointed Gilly’s fans in a packed Adelaide House by forcing him to play onto his stumps with a speedy delivery. Gilchrist departed after making just 15 and to have his side at 25 for 1 in the 6th over. A shaky Ponting then joined Hayden and couldn’t carry the innings forward as the Indian seamers kept lot of pressure with their tight bowling. That reaped rewards for the fielding side with both Ponting and Hayden falling in the space of 8 balls.
First Ponting (10) failed to keep a backfoot drive along the ground off Munaf, and then Hayden (13 from 34) lost concentration as he played a loose cut shot off Irfan Pathan to be caught behind. Australia could never recover after this double blow which had them at 43 for 3 in the 12th over. The Indians sustained enough pressure to take the wickets of Symonds and Hussey cheaply to further reduce the score to 73 for 5 in the 24th over. The inform Michael Clarke came to the rescue yet again as he got helped by both James Hopes (19 from 18) and Brad Hogg (32 from 52) to get their side to respectability. Hogg’s partnership with Michael Clarke was worth 72 for the 7th wicket! Michael Clarke fell in the 47th over slogging one in the deep off Pathan. He made 79 from 108 with 6 fours. The Aussies eventually got to 203 for 9.
Irfan Pathan was the most successful bowler taking four wickets conceding just 41 in his 10. Ishant Sharma got two big wickets that of Gilchrist and Symonds. Munaf and Harbhajan picked up a wicket each without giving away too many runs. India had a bad start to their chase when Sachin Tendulkar (5) was wrongly adjudged lbw by Umpire Peter Parker off an inswinger from Nathan Bracken which was clearly going over the top. From 20 for 1 in the 5th over, it was consolidation phase for the Indians through a partnership between Gautam Gambhir and Irfan Pathan. Just when things looked to get under control, the batting side lost three wickets out of nowhere to find themselves at 59 for 4 in the 16th over! Both Pathan (14 from 30) and Gambhir (34 from 42 with 3 fours) were dismissed by sharp catches on the offside. James Hopes was the surprise package taking two out of the three wickets which were that of Pathan and Rohit Sharma, who was caught behind.
The out of form Yuvraj Singh had to come good this time. And that he did in the company of his Captain. But that was only for a while before he holed out in the deep off an innocuous long hop from Hogg. Yuvraj made lot of promise in his 44-ball 26 which had 3 fours and a breathtaking pull off Hogg in the crowd. India were under tremendous pressure now at 115 for 5 with just the last recognized pair of batsmen left in the form of Dhoni and Uthappa. Dhoni in the run of play had pulled off a hamstring strain which forced him to have Rohit Sharma as a runner. That proved detrimental for Dhoni (37 from 50) as he misjudged a single towards mid off to give Rohit Sharma no chance of reaching the non striker’s end to leave his team at a hopeless 134 for 6.
Dhoni’s run out was the turning point of the match and if and only if he had not utter those ‘Yes, Yes, Yes’, things would have been certainly different. India then lost their way to be bowled out for 153 in 41.2 overs. Uthappa (18 from 36) threatened to do some magic with a few powerful shots but he failed to have a check on his adrenalin. Johnson and Hopes were the stars with the ball taking 3 for 42 and 2 for 16 respectively. Hopes had a great day with his first spell reading an incredible 4-3-5-2! Michael Clarke, without whom the 203 wouldn’t have been possible was the Man of the Match.