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Monday, February 11, 2008

India defeat Australia in hard fought low scoring ODI: CB ODI#4

India 5/160 [ 45.5 overs] (S Tendulkar 44, R Sharma 39 no defeated Australia 159 [43.1 overs] (M Hussey 65 no, I Sharma 4/38, S Sreesanth 3/31) by 5 wickets with 25 balls to spare at the MCG.

"Kangaroo curry for dinner" said a sign brandished by a delighted (and presumably non-vegetarian) Indian supporter at the end of a match which India won by refusing to lie down before a very tight Australian attack which fought tenaciously to try to redeem a below par batting performance.

This was a classic ODI, not because of its high scoring but because of the manner in which both teams slugged it out. Batting first, Australia lost Adam Gilchrist to the third ball of the match, briefly recovered as Matthew Hayden capitalised on a let off by biffing his way to 25/21b (5x4) , then lost wickets regularly to the Indian pace attack.

Mike Hussey brought a modicum of respectability to the total, but 159 didn't look enough, at least until India struggled, despite Sachin Tendulkar's 44/54b, to 5/102. But then young Rohit Sharma showed that he has a temperament of steel as he and skipper M S Dhoni guided their team home without further loss. Their partnership of 58 took 104 balls: not what we expect from ODIs but it was gripping cricket.

Throughout that stand I felt that if Australia took one more wicket they would, or in the latter stages could, regain the ascendancy. For one or two attritional overs it looked as if they might squeeze a wicket out of India but Sharma and Dhoni kept the score moving, albeit slowly, which, apart from keeping their wickets intact, was all they needed to do.

Australia will now have to rethink several things, including the balance of the team and how to combat the Indian attack. India can be very happy with the performance of the two young Sharmas, especially Ishant who has shown that he's a great ODI as well as test bowler and who deservedly won the player of the match award.


Cricinfo Bulletin.
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