All Square After Four
Australia 250 (White 62, Ponting 52, Nehra 3-37) beat India (Tendulkar 40, Watson 3-29, Bollinger 3-38) by 24 runs
Left: Cameron White top scored for Australia with 62
Well, unbelievably this fantastic ODI series is all square after India last night managed to bat their way out of a commanding lead in the both the game and the series. Chasing a meagre 251 for victory, India was all out for 226 in the 47th over, giving Australia a new lease of life in the 7-match series. Although the Aussie bowlers were very good, the feeling you get is that this was India’s loss, not Australia’s win, as batsman after batsman looked good in getting starts, but didn’t go on to make a decent score.
Batting first, Australia, despite the early loss of Shaun Marsh, looked good. Shane Watson (49), Ricky Ponting (52), Cam White (62) and Mike Hussey (40), all looked to have their team on the way to a big score over 300. But, a mixture of terrible running between the wickets, and some excellent swing bowling by Ashish Nehra, sore Australia lose their last 7 wickets for just over 50 runs. As I have stated before, the form of the captain is so crucial for the Aussies these days, and Ponting looked in devastating form, but a genius piece of fielding by young Jadeja had him out for 52. That dismissal, along with Hussey’s brain fade against Yuvraj Singh, sparked a collapse with no following batters making it to double figures.
Although the run-out’s were a highlight, I’d particularly like to mention the form of Nehra. I remember watching him as a young tearaway swinger when he first came on to the scene. I guess it’s inevitable for a left-armer, but he really did have all the trademarks of a new Wasim Akram. He took 6/23 against England in the 2003 World Cup in what I consider to be one of the all-time best spells of swing bowling, and I really thought the sky was the limit. But injuries took hold, and it wasn’t until a good showing in the IPL that Nehra has made his return. Although not as fast these days, he is a seriously intelligent bowler. Glenn McGrath showed us that you don’t need raw pace to dismiss batsmen, and Nehra, like McGrath, uses his wits to get batsmen out. He was truly impressive last night, taking 3 wickets, and performing one of the best bowler-in-his-follow-through run-out’s I have ever seen. He will play a big part in the rest of the series.
India, like Australia started well in their run chase, with Viru Sehwag again letting loose with a quick fire 30 (although he is quickly going down the track of a hit-and-miss type player in the mould of Shahid Afridi). Virat Kohli, replacing the injured Gambhir, was ok, as was Yuvraj, but they both failed to capitalise on getting starts. Dhoni too, looked good, but was dismissed by Doug Bollinger who was the pick of the bowlers. But the real concern for India is Tendulkar. He struggled away to 40 last night, from 68 balls, but looks very out of touch. He is playing at balls he doesn’t usually go near, and his famous timing seems to have deserted him for the time being. So, once the top players had been dismissed all that was needed was Shane Watson to clean up the tail (lets face it, he can’t get anyone else out) and the game was over.
Although you feel like India deserved to win, the outcome of the game for the series was positive. Two games a piece going into the last three is a fantastic platform, and we will just have to wait and see who can wrestle the upper hand when it counts most.
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