Lee and Gilchrist power Australia to big win
50 overs Australia 205 for 5 (Gilchrist 75, Symonds 73) beat India 203 (Yuvraj 47, Lee 3-22) by five wickets
Australia's fast bowlers blasted India out for a small total and their batsmen made short work of chasing it
Brett Lee's searing spell in the morning set the tone and the Adam Gilchrist-Andrew Symonds pair completed the dominance as Australia walloped India by five wickets with 18 overs to spare at the WACA in Perth. India had their moments. After Lee had caused all sort of problems, India recovered well to get 203. They also sniffed a chance when Australia lost three early wickets. But that was when a whirlwind partnership between Gilchrist (75) and Symonds (73) left them bereft of ideas and completely battered.
The two came together when Michael Clarke (2) had attempted to drive through the covers and edged a simple catch to Virender Sehwag at first slip (37 for 3). Matthew Hayden and Damien Martyn had already departed to acrobatic catches; Rohan Gavaskar pulling off a reflex grab diving to his right and VVS Laxman stretching full-length at second slip (16 for 2).
Gilchrist was dropped in the second over of the innings, slashing wildly at a wide ball from Ajit Agarkar, and what a costly miss that proved for the Indians. In the next over from Irfan Pathan he pierced the field with a similar slash and followed it up with a rollicking six over backward square leg. Agarkar and Pathan served up some wide half-volleys and he blitzed a few sizzling square-drives. Going down on one knee, Gilchrist used the full arc of the bat and pounded the fence with regularity.
Once Symonds came in, India were bombarded from both ends. Barring Lakshmipathy Balaji, who bowled a very accurate spell in the face of brutal hitting, the rest sprayed it around and played into the batsmen's hands. Symonds received half-volleys with plenty of width and smashed them freely through cover. Neither batsmen ducked when the ball was pitched short, and just swivelled back and swatted it away. Symonds took a special liking to Murali Kartik and deposited one of his flighted balls onto the rooftop at midwicket. The 15.1 overs that they batted produced 122 runs before Symonds pulled Pathan to midwicket and Laxman caught a sharp chance (159 for 4). Gilchrist hit 11 fours and a six and Symonds smashed 11 fours and two mighty sixes. Gilchrist fell soon after, top-edging a cut to Balaji at third man (165 for 5), but Michael Hussey (17), on debut, and Simon Katich (18) ensured that the target was reached without further alarms.
Earlier in the day, India had been restricted to 203 largely due to a blistering spell of fast bowling from Lee (3 for 22). Clearing the 150 kph mark with ease, Lee troubled all the batsmen by mixing up his length while maintaining an accurate line. A few perished trying to jab and flirt with deliveries probing on the off-stump line. Sachin Tendulkar (5) got a peach of a ball that pitched on off and just seamed away a bit to clip the edge of the bat (20 for 1). Laxman (1) didn't have too much of a clue in his short stay at the crease and edged a short ball fishing outside off (32 for 2). Sourav Ganguly, who might have regretted his decision to bat first, resorted to some wild swinging when he was peppered with the short stuff but fell victim as he poked at one that bounced steeply (57 for 4).
Sehwag's breezy 32, including some ferocious driving, and Yuvraj Singh's 47 were primarily responsible for India posting a modest total. Yuvraj's shot-selection was near perfect and he showed that the pitch wasn't a vicious one by any means. He didn't flinch when hit high on the arm by Brad Williams, and answered the very next ball with a glorious square-drive. He pasted Symonds to midwicket with a pull but fell soon after to the same bowler. He chased a wide one and handed Gilchrist an easy chance (142 for 8).
Before this dismissal, Gavaskar's off stump was cleaned up by a screaming straight one from Lee and Agarkar (9) was run out after a 39-ball struggle. The total was shored up by Kartik (32) and Pathan (20) who eked out some valuable runs, with Balaji (11) providing some good support at the end.
Gilchrist and Symonds ensured that the total wasn't even close to enough. No arguments about which team won the psychological brownie points before they clash again in the finals.