Australia v India, Commonwealth Bank Series, Sydney February 26, 2012

Australia in finals after 87-run win

Australia 9 for 252 (Warner 68, Wade 56, D Hussey 54, Sehwag 3-43) beat India 165 (Ashwin 26, Watson 2-9) by 87 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

India succumbed meekly to the pressure of a chase of 253 - a chase they were required to nail to remain in serious contention in the triangular series - and were bowled out for 165 by an Australia side that eagerly grabbed the chance to seal its own spot in the competition deciders.

Short of a bonus-point victory in their final match against Sri Lanka and a subsequent loss to the hosts by Mahela Jayawardene's flourishing side, India will fly home earlier than desired from an Australia tour that peaked all too early with Rahul Dravid's Bradman Oration and has disintegrated steadily ever since.

Australia's stand-in captain Shane Watson compensated for a poor showing with the bat by nipping out Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina, and generally led his team soundly in the field in the absence of the injured Michael Clarke. He had a bonus point victory in front of 33,639 spectators to show for it.

The folding of India's batting was a familiar tale of patterns and misadventures. Virender Sehwag extended his horrid run on tour by punching a return-catch to Ben Hilfenhaus, Sachin Tendulkar found another way to fall short of 100 international centuries when he was run-out after a mid-pitch collision with Brett Lee, and Gautam Gambhir battled for fluency then dragged Clint McKay onto the stumps.

All this rather undercut the efforts of the touring bowlers, who had done well to restrict Australia to 9 for 252. India were given a fine start by the intelligent and miserly bowling of Praveen Kumar, whose opening spell of six overs harvested two wickets at a cost of 14 runs, including only one boundary. Umesh Yadav also made a mark with his speed and aggression.

Praveen's victims included Shane Watson, playing his first international of the summer as Australia's stand-in captain while Michael Clarke recovers from a flare-up of the back trouble that has been an intermittent problem across his career. Australia have now had four captains of the national side in various formats this summer - Clarke, George Bailey, Ricky Ponting and Watson.

David Warner fared the best of the batsmen, striking his way to 68 from 66 balls before skying Ravindra Jadeja. Suresh Raina claimed the catch despite a heavy collision with Irfan Pathan that left both fielders laid out on the outfield. Matthew Wade and Hussey also chimed in, but the latter was perhaps fortunate to get past 17.

Running a single, Hussey held out his hand to block Suresh Raina's return from the edge of the fielding circle - whether this was an attempt to simply prevent getting hit was unclear - and MS Dhoni immediately appealed either for handling the ball or the recently changed laws for obstructing the field, which forbid a batsman from changing his running line to intercept a ball headed for the stumps. After a lengthy television consultation the appeal was rejected, much to the consternation of the visitors. They exchanged plenty of words with Hussey when he was dismissed, 37 runs later.

On a night when a rapid half-century might have set his side on the path to victory, Sehwag's exit in the second over arrived courtesy of a fine Hilfenhaus take, scooping up a low catch near his ankles. Tendulkar and Gambhir prospered briefly against the new ball, but when the former was called through for a single, both he and Lee ran in more or less the same direction. Lee's pursuit of the ball ended when he saw David Warner in better position, and Tendulkar had his path interrupted by the bowler as Warner threw down the stumps.

Kohli again hinted at a decent score, only to be undone when Watson introduced himself to the attack. Following Lee, Watson's seamers were noticeably slower, and the reduction in pace had Kohli playing too early as he looped a catch to Daniel Christian.

McKay ended Gambhir's cussed stay, and Watson struck again when he angled the ball across Raina to induce a simple edge to Matthew Wade. Ravindra Jadeja fell in a similar manner, though his edge from Daniel Christian flew to Watson at first slip, where he held on to the catch having earlier grassed a chance to pouch Dhoni.

For as long as Dhoni remained at the crease India had a chance, however slight, so there was plenty of relief in Australia's huddle when Hilfenhaus pinned him in front of the stumps for a painstaking 14. The rest melted away.

The match appeared destined for a closer contest when Australia's early progress was slowed by Praveen's wiles, though more runs were collected from Pathan at the other end. Watson pulled at a delivery shaping away from him and managed only to spoon a catch to mid-on, while Peter Forrest fell to a slower delivery that he dragged onto the stumps.

Warner's innings provided the hosts with some momentum, but he lost Michael Hussey due to a running mix-up, and his own bright stay was ended by Jadeja. David Hussey's reprieve offered him and Wade the chance to regather the innings, which they did well enough in a stand of 94.

Wade's stay was ended when he steered a swift Yadav delivery into Dhoni's gloves, before Hussey fell to the same combination, snicking behind in his attempt to pull Yadav from outside off stump. The fact that Hussey appeared to walk did little to soothe India's frustration about the earlier incident.

Clint McKay was not long in staying before he wafted at Virender Sehwag and was stumped, and late blows from Christian and Xavier Doherty took the tally past 250. It looked a mediocre total, but then there have been times on this tour when India would have given much to achieve such mediocrity. So it would be again this night.

Edited by Nikita Bastian

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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