A spirited all round performance from the Men in Blue crushed the World Champions’ pride in their own den. Team India won the second final at Gabba as well to wrap up the CB Series and also their long tough tour. This meant that Adam Gilchrist had made his last international appearance for Australia in this match. Brad Hogg, who was dropped for this match will also not get a second chance to represent Australia again. The Indians broke their hearts with a thrilling 9-run win despite the absence of their most dangerous bowler – Ishant Sharma.
Sachin Tendulkar backed his century in the first final with another splendid innings to provide a nice foundation for his team when they had come out to bat. It was a disappointing finish for India at 258 for 9 but when swing bowler Praveen Kumar had got rid of Adam Gilchrist and Ricky Ponting, the match swung back in India’s favour. By exhibiting some fierce fighting spirit, the Indians got past their hurdles as the match went on to win the match and also the tournament.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni had won a very good toss and elected to bat first on a dry wicket which would have given good purchase for his two spinners. Like in the first final, Uthappa and Tendulkar provided them with the perfect start by not giving any wickets to Brett Lee. The pair eased their way through without any fuss. Robin Uthappa yet again wasted his start with an ambitious shot, but he would be pardoned for already doing a good job, that of putting on 94 in 20.5 overs with Tendulkar. Robin contributed 30 in 49 with a four. Gambhir (15) showed his inexperience by trying to clear the big Gabba ground. India were at 121 for 2 at the fall of Gambhir. With Tendulkar in no mood of throwing it away, India looked secured of getting to a decent total. Now there was the need to try and get to a formidable total to bat out the Aussies.
Yuvraj Singh was looking to hit some shots to propel the Indian scoring. In just his second ball that he had faced, Yuve launched Michael Clarke into the stands for a six. A few more calculated big shots came along from Yuvraj, who was in murderous form. Fortunately, the Aussies got relieved when the left hander found the man in the deep with his pull shot off a rank bad ball from Michael Clarke. Yuvraj was otherwise sensational in his run-a-ball 38 which had 2 fours and 2 sixes which took India to 175 for 3 in 35 overs. Michael Clarke got lucky again when Tendulkar too fell to a soft dismissal, trying to chip the spinner towards the onside but getting brilliantly caught by Ponting at mid wicket. The little master got dismissed for the 17th time in the 90s! His 91 was well paced, coming in 121 balls with 7 boundaries.
India messed up the last 10 overs because of losing too many wickets. They ended up 20-30 runs short atleast. Dhoni had played a useful innings of 36 from 37 with 2 fours and a six before falling in the 48th over. For the Aussies, Nathan Bracken was tidy with 3 for 31 in his 9. Michael Clarke got 3 for 52 which were all big wickets. In their chase, the Aussies stumbled after Praveen Kumar bowled a lovely delivery to force Gilchrist (2) to nick that behind. In his next over, the medium pacer provided the double blow as Ricky Ponting (1) played a tame pull shot in the hands of Yuvraj at mid wicket. After this life was difficult for Hayden and Clarke, who were trying to repair a wrecked ship against the moving ball. Sreesanth complemented Praveen Kumar at the other end and the Aussies had to work extremely hard for their runs. A rubbish pull shot attempted from Michael Clarke (17 from 22) off Praveen Kumar further put his side in trouble at 32 for 3 in the 9th over.
The second final had so many similarities to the first one. For the second time, it was upto the pair of Haydos and Symo to get their side back in the track and they appeared to do so. The difference today was that there was the devil of the required run rate which was touching nearly 6.00. The experienced duo muscled their way to play their shots whenever they could. India desperately required to see the back of these two monsters. And they got both of them back to the pavilion in the space of just three balls! First it was Hayden (55 from 68 balls with 7 fours), who got stranded after being sent back by Symonds for a quick single and then the latter himself getting plumb in front to his foe – The Turbanator! Symonds made 42 from 56 with 2 fours and a six, his departure saw the Aussies down at 123 for 5 in 26 overs. It was probably a bad omen for the Aussies when a streaker had invaded the ground and Symonds gave him a cruel right shoulder blow.
There was no point in relaxing and expecting an easy win as far as Dhoni’s boys were concerned as Australia had batting right till no.11. There was still the great finisher in Michael Hussey in the middle who appeared to live to his reputation. Hussey got able support from James Hopes to knock off most of the runs. A smart bowling change from Dhoni did the trick with Sreesanth striking in what could have been the last ball of his 2-over spell then. It was Hussey (44 from 42 balls with 3 fours) walking back after getting a nick in an attempted square cut which resulted in a low catch for Dhoni. Hussey’s was the biggest wicket of the match as he was controlling the match with a 76-run stand with James Hopes. His wicket slowed things down allowing the Indians to slip in a few dot balls and make the equation tough. Praveen Kumar came back for his second spell to clean up a potential dangerous Brett Lee with a back of the hand slower one. The only hope for the Aussies was now James Hopes who tried his best right till the end.
In the last two overs, 22 were required and a pull shot for a six from Hopes off Sreesanth got the Indians nervous again. There was tension all around with 13 to win from the final over. Irfan Pathan was asked to bowl the final over despite receiving a pounding of 41 from 6 overs. Pathan kept his cool to give away just three runs in as many balls which also included the wicket of Bracken. With his fourth ball, Pathan brought curtains to the tournament with a slower delivery that was swung across by Hopes into the hands of Piyush Chawla at mid wicket. Hopes sat down feeling sad that he couldn’t be a hero but it was truly a splendid effort from him in scoring 63 (from 80 balls with 4 fours and a six) under pressure. The Man of the Match was Praveen Kumar, who may not be capable of talking with Mark Taylor during the presentation ceremony, but definitely capable of making the ball talk with match winning figures of 10-2-46-4! The rest of the bowlers did their part as well to complete a team effort. Nathan Bracken’s Player of the Series award was the consolation for the Aussies.