Ponting stars in Australia’s win over India

February 24th, 2008 - 8:21 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Harbhajan Singh

Sydney, Feb 24 (IANS) Captain Ricky Ponting hammered his 26th century and speedster Brett Lee took five wickets to help Australia beat India by 18 runs in an exciting One-Day International of the Commonwealth Bank Triangular Series here Sunday. Ponting’s 124 off 133 balls (7×4s, 1×6) guided Australia to 317 for seven wickets in 50 overs and then Lee bagged his eighth five-wicket haul to help dismiss India for 299 in 49.1 overs and win with five balls to spare at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

India’s defeat meant that Gautam Gambhir’s fourth century (113, 119 balls, 9×4s, 1×6) and Robin Uthappa’s quick fire half-century (51, 46 balls, 4×4s, 1×6) went waste.

While Australia had entered the finals even before Sunday’s match, India will now have to win their last match of the league, against Sri Lanka Tuesday, to make the grade. India will also try to win with the bonus point to take their tally to 17.

Sri Lanka have two matches left and they can earn a maximum of 10 points from those, including a win against India. If the islanders do that, they would edge out India from the best-of-three finals.

There is every possibility that the second finalists would not be spotted until the final match of the league phase, between Australia and Sri Lanka Friday.

Wicket-keeper Adam Gilchrist was the other star of Australia’s win. He equalled the world record of most dismissals, six, in an innings. He has now achieved this feat six times out of 10. Matthew Hayden (54, 62 balls, 5×4s, 1×6) and Andrew Symonds (59, 49 balls, 6×4s, 2×6s), on the other hand, starred with them hitting half-centuries.

India had a poor start, losing Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag cheaply. Rohit Sharma and Yuvraj Singh also failed to click, but Gambhir and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (36, 66 balls, 4×4s) steadied the ship with their 98-run stand off 20.1 overs for the fifth wicket. But those runs were scored slowly and as a result the run rate mounted.

Uthappa was involved in three partnerships later, but they all proved futile as India lost. He raised 67 for sixth wicket along with Gambhir, 41 for the seventh wicket with Irfan Pathan (22, 21 balls, 2×4s) and 33 at a rate of 11.64 per over for the eighth wicket with Harbhajan Singh (20, 11 balls, 3×4s).

Earlier, Ponting won the toss and opted to bat. He was involved in two 100-run partnerships that took Australia past 300-run mark.

Ponting was first involved in a 110-run stand for the second wicket with Hayden, after Gilchrist (16) departed cheaply with the total reading just 21. After adding 65 with Michael Clarke (31), Ponting forged another exactly 100-run stand with Symonds for the fourth wicket.

These three meaningful partnerships took Australia to a competitive total. Ponting, who has been struggling to score runs, finally came good after Australia already booked their berth in the finals.

The highlight of the Australian innings was that all their top order batsmen, barring Gilchrist, fired. Mike Hussey remained unbeaten on 15 off 10 balls.

Indian bowlers did not bowl too well and got hammered for erring in line and length.

India made one change in the XI, bringing back Sehwag in place of Uttar Pradesh pacer Praveen Kumar. Sehwag turned his arm over with good effect and had danger man Michael Clarke caught by Rohit Sharma.

Pacer Sreesanth was, however, the pick of the six bowlers pressed into service, taking two wickets at a rather high cost of 58 runs.

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