Tendulkar’s ton lifts India to win, 1-0 lead in finals

March 2nd, 2008 - 8:05 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Harbhajan Singh
(Roundup)
By Neena Bhandari
Sydney, March 2 (IANS) A splendid unbeaten century by Sachin Tendulkar - his 42nd - lifted India to a six-wicket win over Australia in the first of the three finals of the Commonwealth Bank Triangular Series here Sunday. Tendulkar’s unbeaten 117 - his first ton against Australia Down Under - came on what could be his last tour to this country and it came at the right time, when India had not beaten the home side before.

After the bowlers did a good job of restricting Australia to 239 for eight wickets, Tendulkar (120 balls, 10×4s) guided India to 242 for four in 45.5 overs, to win with 25 balls to spare. Tendulkar was adjudged the Man of the Match.

Rohit Sharma was the other main contributor in the Indian innings with a fine 66 (87 balls, 6×4s).

Australia now have a huge task to win the second final at the Gabba in Brisbane Tuesday.

Tendulkar continued his love affair with the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) as he scored his first century during the summer of discontent Down Under.

After hitting his century, Tendulkar raised his bat high, took off his helmet and waived to the crowd, who were on their feet applauding some fine cricket.

The majestic strokes by Tendulkar provided a perfect crescendo to this aggressively contested series. As rain clouds cleared to reveal a perfect autumn day, verbal rivalries gave way to a day of magnificent batting and high quality cricket.

In the absence of Virender Sehwag, who was dropped for this match too, Robin Uthappa (17) opened the batting with Tendulkar and the two raised 50 to give a solid start to India’s chase.

The first wicket fell when James Hopes had Uthhapa caught by Mike Hussey.

A misunderstanding between Tendulkar and in-form Gautam Ganbhir resulted in the Delhi left-hander being run out by Mitchell Johnson-Hopes combine.

But Tendulkar carried on undaunted, refusing to let Gambhir’s dismissal bother him. He played some delightful shots, including the upper cut over the wicketkeeper or slips with consummate ease that often crossed the boundary.

Before this match, Tendulkar had played six matches at the SCG and had scored two half-centuries, with a high of 69. But Sunday he laid all ghosts to rest.

Tendulkar was involved in a 31-run third-wicket partnership with Yuvraj Singh, who managed just 10.

Then came the highest stand of the innings, with Tendulkar and Rohit scoring 123 for the fifth wicket that ensured that India would not lose the day-night game.

When Rohit departed, bowled after missing the line of a Hopes delivery, India needed to make only 30, which Tendulkar and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (15 not out) did without difficulty. Their unbeaten partnership was worth 32.

Earlier, Australia captain Ricky Ponting won the toss and decided to bat.

Matthew Hayden scored an 88-ball 82 runs but Indian bowlers did well to restrict the Australians.

Hayden’s was the only half-century (10×4s) of the innings that saved Australia the blushes as the seven-man Indian bowling attack kept the world champions in check for most part of the innings.

Mike Hussey was the only other batsman who batted well enough to make 45 (67 balls, 2×4s) while Andrew Symonds chipped in with 31 (44 balls, 4×4s).

Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh and pace bowler Praveen Kumar bagged two wickets each.

Leg-spinner Piyush Chawla, playing his first match of the tournament, and pacer Ishant Sharma also bowled tightly. Chawla went wicketless while Ishant, the best Indian bowler on the tour, bagged one to take his tally to 14 wickets in the tournament.

Australia had a dismal start as they lost the first three wickets for just 24, with Praveen removing Adam Gilchrist and captain Ricky Ponting for virtually nothing and Ishant dismissing the danger man Michael Clarke.

Andrew Symonds and Hayden stemmed the rot with their 100-run partnership for the fourth wicket. It was this 17.2-over stand, during which the two batsmen scored at an impressive rate of 5.76 runs per over, that saved Australia from embarrassment.

Later, Hussey was involved in two small but crucial partnerships that helped Australia put up a competitive total. He and James Hopes added 38 for the sixth wicket and along with Brad Hogg he scored 39 for the seventh wicket.

India included Chawla in place of pacer Munaf Patel while Australia recalled Hayden replacing Brad Haddin.

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