In a fascinating cricketing contest of grit, determination and aggression, Australia outdid India by 18 runs after being run in too close in a 300 plus chase of its own kind at the SCG (Sydney Cricket Ground), Sydney on Sunday, February 24, 2008. The 10th ODI of CB Series stood out as the highest-scoring match of the series so far as Australia piled up a huge score of 317 runs after choosing to bat earlier in the day. The match turned out to be one veritable contest of going one up against the opponent in terms of individual brilliance, consistent approach and team effort. To begin with, Australia did not exactly got off to a flyer, with Gilchrist falling a prey to Sreesanth's pace prematurely. Rest of the team, however, fell just in place to secure a big score for the side with some fine personal contributions. In this unabashed display of batting skills, skipper chose to lead his side by example with an unfluttered century effort, which saw him emerge from his batting blues in style.
He received some good support from Matthew Hayden who added another excellent half-century to make for a 110-run 2nd wicket stand before succumbing to an athletic run-out effort from the duo of Rohit Sharma and Sehwag. Clarke came up with a 31-run quickie next, providing ample space for Ponting exercise his cricking creativity with his own repertoire of shots to the delight of Australians. It was after more than 10 overs that Sehwag could deceive Clarke with an ingenious piece of slower swing to break this dangerous partnership. Ponting was, however, the last one to be affected as Andrew Symonds took charge at other end. The duo seemed to enjoy their stay at the crease and it was a celebration of batting spirit to watch them accelerate the Australian innings in this 100 plus stand. Ishant provided the much hoped for breakthrough by bowling out Symonds in the 48th over but the damage had already been done. Harbhajan Singh pitched in to spike some interest at the last minute with a couple of run-outs in the form of Hopes and Lee as Australia finished with a flourish at a cricket score of 317 runs for 7 wickets in the allotted 50 overs.
India had its task cut-out from the very beginning and there was little scope to exercise caution or wait patiently for the right opportunity to score. The message, however, got all messed up as it turned out to be a non-starter between Tendulkar and Lee as the speedster send him packing in the first over itself. Gambhir and Sehwag tried hard to build up a respectable partnership, which was cut short by Clark as Sehwag once again succumbed to his batting jinx. It was a kind of mini-cricketing avalanche, which followed in the form of Rohit Sharma and Yuvraj's wickets in the succeeding overs to make the Indian scorecard read 51 runs for 4 wickets. The Indian skipper and Gambhir picked up the thread from here on to execute the perfect rescue act for India with a century-shy stand for the 5th wicket. Gambhir seemed unusually comfortable with the willow in this particular knock, which was showcased in his intelligent shot selection and almost sublime execution. India made an effective comeback in the game with this partnership and Australia desperately looked for a break, which was provided by Lee who extracted an edge off Dhoni only to be gleefully accepted by Gilchrist as his 4th catch for the day. Uthappa fell in place next to help accelerate the scoring rate as the duo reached a fine half-century stand in almost no time. Finally, Hogg claimed the prized scalp of Gambhir who finished off in style with a euphoric 113-run knock in reply to Ponting's century effort. The Indian chase was still alive as Pathan and Harbhajan Singh pitched in with their small cameos but the moment Uthappa miscued one off Lee to be lapped by Hussey that India was done with. It was only a matter of time before Ishant was bowled out by Lee with 18 runs being required off 6 balls. India lost the match by 18 runs after being bundled out for 299 runs in 49.1 overs still it was one great cricketing chase with last-minute hiccups preventing India from reaching its target. The question is, will Team India make it a point to learn something from every debacle of the cricketing kind or not.
Last Updated on 24 August 2012