Maestro Sachin and Rookie Praveen script a historic win

March 4th, 2008 - 9:17 pm ICT by admin  

(Night Lead)

Brisbane, March 4 (IANS) A potent mixture of youth and experience in Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s Indian team created history after wrestling down World Champions Australia in a nerve-wracking last-over thriller by nine runs to win the Commonwealth Bank tri-series trophy. India’s first win the tri-series final Down Under became all the more sweet as they beat Australia in successive matches - something that Australian skipper Ricky Ponting had boasted of before the start of the first final. For the second season in succession the Australians were beaten straight, England doing it last year.

The win will also provide succour to India as they lost the acrimonious Test series 2-1 and the long summer Down Under raised many searching questions on the on-field conduct of some players. It was a fitting finale for the historic series.

As Irfan Pathan took the wicket of James Hopes in the last over, all the bitter memories of the summer went up in smoke and the entire Indian squad erupted in joy. They had brought high-flying Australia to ground.

Sachin Tendulkar showed that he still has enough fire in his belly as he smashed a classy 91, riding on the back of his 42nd ton at the Sydney Cricket Ground in the first final, to help India to a challenging 258 for nine.

Then, Praveen Kumar stole the show with his mesmerising spell of bowling. Even before the Aussies could set themselves up for the chase, Praveen ripped through the Australian top order with a triple strike reducing them to three for 32. Praveen ended with figures of four for 46 to fetch his second man-of-the match award in just five matches. He grabbed 10 wickets from four matches in the CB series, six of these in the finals.

Dhoni threw the new ball to Praveen, and the young man hailing from a family of wrestlers did not need to be told how to respond. Gilchrist walked after snicking the third ball of the innings to Dhoni. Ponting went next pulling to Yuvraj at wide mid-on and Australia were staring at disaster, two wickets down with just eight on the board. Praveen sneaked through the defences of Michael Clarke and Australia’s back was broken.

They would have been crippled had Dhoni not lunged at a straightforward catch to Tendulkar at first slip as Matthew Hayden edged Shantakumaran Sreesanth. The catch was not only spilled. It also injured Tendulkar and he had to leave the field.

Australia still had two powerful fighters who can snatch a win by the sheer power of their strokeplay. That’s what Hayden and Andrew Symonds threatened to do as they had on quite a few occasions against lesser mortals. But the Indians were made of sterner stuff.

Hayden (55) and Symonds (42) added 89 runs to do the damage control. But they fell in quick succession, much to the relief of the Indians. Ominous signs for Australia as the world’s two best runners ended their stand with a terrible mix up in the middle. The combination of Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan (one for 44) ran out Hayden who failed to beat the throw at the non-striker’s end.

Harbhajan snared his archenemy Symonds again as he had him trapped plumb in front. Hayden had hit seven boundaries while Symonds’ innings was studded with two boundaries and one six.

Michael Hussey (44) and James Hopes (63) raised Australia’s hope again as they put their heads down to stitch a 76-run stand in quick time.

Australia seemed to be sneaking back into the game with the partnership when Sreesanth (2-43) got the crucial wicket of Hussey as he had him caught behind, but he had to wait for the third umpire to adjudicate whether Dhoni had caught the ball fair. Australia required 60 runs in 48 balls and it was anybody’s game. Hopes hereon played a lone hand to keep Australia in the hunt till the last over.

Praveen came back to take the wicket of Brett Lee in the 47th over with a well-disguised slower one and more important conceded only three runs in the over. The match had entered a pressure-cooker atmosphere with 30 runs required in 18 balls. Mitchell Johnson (8) hit Harbhajan for a four but Sreesanth got him caught behind in the next over. Hopes hit Sreesanth for a six in the same over to rattle the Indians a bit.

Australia needed 13 runs from the last over. Indian hearts pounded. Pathan might not be in the best of form, but he kept his cool. He got Bracken out with a slow delivery as Chawla ran around to pouch it after juggling a bit. Pathan and Chawla combined one more time for the final act as the leg-spinner showed nerves of steel to take Hopes’s catch at mid-on and that sparked the scenes of jubilation.

Earlier, Sachin Tendulkar scored a sizzling 91 before Australia struck back with crucial blows to rip off the middle order and halt India at 258 for nine after winning the toss.

Robin Uthappa scored a valuable 30 and gave India a solid start of 94 runs along with Tendulkar. Yuvraj Singh made a quick-fire 38 off 38 balls that included two mighty sixes, while skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni chipped in with 36 off 37 deliveries.

But just when India were going great guns at three for 175 and looking to finish off their good work on a high, Australia struck blow after blow in the slog overs to wrest the initiative. Still, the Indian score was good enough to defend under lights, though the dew later in the night did not help the Indian cause.

Michael Clarke (3 for 52) got the wickets of Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir (15) and Rohit Sharma while Nathan Bracken (3-31) removed Dhoni. Andrew Symonds got rid of the dangerous Yuvraj.

Tendulkar hit seven boundaries in his 121-ball knock. Tendulkar’s 50 came in 70 balls which included five boundaries.

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