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Murali Kartik, Zaheer Khan star in India’s sensational victory

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It was spin that was the chief architect in India’s victory at the country’s Cricket Capital – Mumbai. Left arm spinner Murali Kartik scalped six wickets with the ball in the afternoon and then returned back under lights to put on a match-winning stand of 52 with Zaheer Khan for the 8th wicket that clinched a highly unlikely victory. India managed to steer itself to a win despite being in the dumps at 64 for 6 in pursuit of 194 to make the final series score line as 2-4. The superbly consistent Andrew Symonds was the Player of the Series and Murali Kartik had to be the Man of the Match.

Having decided to bat first after winning the toss, Australia got themselves into a dominating position but the Indian bowlers kept on checking their progress with crucial breakthroughs. Opening the batting once again in the absence of Hayden, Clarke was for the second time in a row out for a first ball duck to Zaheer. This time around he was sent back in the first ball of the match after getting plumb in front! Gilchrist along with Ponting gave the start but then the former couldn’t prolong his innings after patting Irfan Pathan into covers. Ponting took the game forward with his attractive strokeplay but once spin was introduced, the game started to turn into India’s favour. Murali Kartik did the damage dismissing Hodge and Symonds in consecutive balls in the 20th over. A few overs later, RP Singh came back to give the big break by removing Ponting (57 from 78 with 9 fours) to make it 129 for 5 in the 27th.

It was going to be Murali Kartik’s day and the left armer got as many as three wickets in the 32nd over which further pushed back Australia in trouble. For the second time in the match, Murali Kartik was on a hat-trick but he missed out. Kartik could end up with outstanding figures of 6 for 27 in his quota of overs including three maidens. The Indians hardly wasted any time in bowling out the World Champs. Australia were bowled out in 41.3 overs after putting on 193. Mitchell Johnson contributed a useful 24 towards the end while James Hopes was the second highest scorer of the innings with 22.

What was thought to be an easy Indian victory at the start of the chase looked very difficult with the ball swinging both ways at the Wankhede. The Australian new ball attack looked deadly dangerous and the Indian top order failed to come good. Mitchell Johnson accounted for the wickets of Ganguly and one drop Dinesh Karthik while Brett Lee removed the big fish Sachin Tendulkar (21) to have the homeside at 38 for 3 in the 11th. India were missing a world class defensive batsman in Rahul Dravid in the circumstances. But then it was decided by the team management to give him rest prior to the game. Nathan Bracken made sure that the likes of Yuvraj and Dhoni didn’t produce anything significant to get their side back on track. By the 19th over, Australia also got rid of Irfan Pathan to make it 64 for 6.

Almost all the batsmen were back in the pavilion, but there was a ray of hope in the form of Robin Uthappa. The young Uthappa found the support he wanted from Harbhajan Singh which allowed a partnership to be grown. India got past the three figures mark with Uthappa looking very cool until he was given leg before the wicket off Michael Clarke. It was a debatable decision with Uthappa being well forward. He made 47 in 59 balls with the help of 4 fours and 2 sixes leaving India at 129 for 7. Harbhajan (19 from 49) followed him back in the hut after a few overs after his fight was ended by Mitchell Johnson. India were now 51 runs short of victory with plenty of overs left but just the two wickets in hand. Zaheer and Murali Kartik, two cricketers who have had plenty of county experience in the recent time were in the middle. The task was simple, just bat with the heads down as both players have decent game when it comes to batting. A few good looking shots from both batsmen and a slice of luck here and there slowly but steadily took India closer and closer to the target. Eventually in the final ball of the 46th over, a famous win was scripted by the two lower order batsmen through four leg byes. The extras conceded by the Aussies were 36 which were very crucial for the Indians.Zaheer Khan finished with 31 from 43 with 3 fours and a six he hit off Lee after a verbal exchange. Murali Kartik got himself a neat 21 from 34 balls with 3 fours.

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