ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News
India v Australia, World Cup 2011 warm-up, Bangalore
Spinners star in dramatic Indian win
The Bulletin by Siddarth Ravindran at the Chinnaswamy Stadium
February 13, 2011
India 214 (Sehwag 54, Lee 3-35) beat Australia (Ponting 57, Chawla 4-31, Harbhajan 3-15) by 38 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Indian fans who left the Chinnaswamy Stadium after watching Australia control the first 70 overs of the high-profile warm-up match on Sunday will be kicking themselves. An early finish seemed likely when Australia coasted to 116 for 1 in 21 overs after rolling over India for 214, and there was an early finish, but it was India who ran out victors as Australia lost their final nine wickets for 58 runs.
A massive crowd befitting an actual World Cup game had turned up to cheer India, expecting much from the star-studded batting line-up, but it was the less-heralded spinners, led by Piyush Chawla, who gave them plenty to shout about. Chawla spun out four middle-order batsmen before Harbhajan Singh applied the finishing touches to a back-from-the-dead victory.
Australia made a solid beginning to the chase as Shane Watson kick-started the innings with a bunch of boundaries. Ricky Ponting and Tim Paine then carried their side halfway to the target before things started to fall apart for Australia. Paine had lashed four fours in the first six overs but got bogged down after that, and fell trying to clear long-on, where Munaf Patel sprinted to his right to take a sharp catch. During the 67-run stand between Paine and Ponting, Chawla went for 22 runs in four overs.
His second spell transformed the game. In his first over back - immediately after Paine was dismissed - Chawla had Michael Clarke playing-on for a duck. Four overs later, Cameron White chipped a legbeak to midwicket, and David Hussey picked up a golden duck, drawn forward by Chawla before being beaten by the turn. Australia had slid to 138 for 5, and the first Mexican wave of the day made its way around the ground as the fans found their voice again. Callum Ferguson probably had the worst time of the lot: in a nine-ball stay, he was nearly run-out, was dropped at first slip, inside-edged a drive to square leg, was beaten by a vicious turner from Chawla and finally nicked one to slip. Chawla's second spell was 5-0-9-4, and it provided more questions for the Indian selectors.
Harbhajan, who was off the field for a while, returned to remove Ponting through a quicksilver stumping from MS Dhoni, and the rest of the Australian batting folded. There was help for the spinners from the pitch but this was not the minefield the Australian batsmen made it seem.
One consolation for Australia will be the gritty half-century from Ponting, in his first match since the Boxing Day Test. He began with a couple of Chinese cuts against the unlucky R Ashwin, who bowled far better than the scorecard indicates, but soon produced some convincing shots - an on-drive off Ashwin and a pull when Chawla dropped short. Even in a warm-up match, Ponting retained the intensity of old. Sreesanth had some advice for him after a delivery pushed out to cover, and added some more after a strident appeal for caught-behind on the next ball. Ponting wasn't going to just ignore it; he walked up to Sreesanth and doled out some advice of his own. The innings itself wasn't Ponting at his best, but he showed no signs of the finger trouble which sidelined him last month.
The top scorer for India was also a player coming back from injury - Virender Sehwag, whose shoulder problem didn't bother him during his half-century. He began with an effortless push past extra cover for four off a low full toss, but couldn't provide his customary high-speed start since he was starved of strike: he faced only four deliveries in the first five overs. Sehwag was at his most attacking against Jason Krejza, skipping beyond leg and looking to cut four times in Krejza's first over. He carved three fours off Krejza, and blasted him over long-off to reach his fifty, but the offspinner had his revenge by bowling Sehwag next ball.
Before his dismissal Sehwag watched a procession of India's specialist batsmen come and go, none of whom made big contributions. Gautam Gambhir never looked at ease in a short stay before edging to slip; Virat Kohli showed glimpses of class in his 21 before chopping John Hastings to backward point; Yuvraj Singh walked after an indecisive response to a bouncer - initially looking to sway out of the way before feathering the ball to the keeper; Dhoni was bowled for 11, prolonging his fallow spell in one-dayers.
At 113 for 5, with the seniors dismissed, Suresh Raina had a chance to stake his World Cup claim by reviving the innings. He survived the short balls Australia fired at him initially but didn't last very long, nicking Brett Lee as he attempted an on-the-up drive. Once again, it was left to Yusuf Pathan to ensure India put up a fight, and he did with an unusually patient 32 (after being 18 off 34 at one stage).
India made it past 200 thanks to some late resistance from Ashwin and Ashish Nehra but Australia would have been happy with their bowling performance, barring the huge number of wides. Brett Lee was in top form, accurate and slipping in the bouncers and yorkers at pace; Krejza had a decent outing against batsmen looking to attack him, and even their lowest-profile bowler, Hastings, provided two significant breakthroughs.
India's batting, which is their strength, has one more chance to get it together, against New Zealand on Wednesday, when they will have the re-assuring presence of Sachin Tendulkar at the top of the order.