India v Australia, 4th ODI, Delhi November 2, 2009

Impressive Australia draw level


Australia 250 (White 62, Ponting 52, Nehra 3-37) beat India (Tendulkar 40, Watson 3-29, Bollinger 3-38) by 24 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
How they were out

It was India's game to lose after they restricted Australia to a par total of 250 on a good batting pitch, especially after the fiery start provided by Virender Sehwag. However, Australia won the vital moments during the chase to level the series in Mohali. Like in Vadodara, Harbhajan Singh and Praveen Kumar threatened to pull off a heist; like in Vadodara they failed.

It was a roller-coaster of a chase and whenever India appeared to be getting ahead, Australia fought back with a vengeance. It wasn't necessarily great bowling that did the trick but it was disciplined enough to force mistakes from under-pressure batsmen.

India were off to a cracking start. Sehwag looted 30 runs from 14 deliveries from Mitchell Johnson but no one took ownership of the chase and India slowly lost their way. The first turning point came when Ricky Ponting introduced spin in the 17th over. Nathan Hauritz stuck in his second over, earning an lbw decision against Sachin Tendulkar but the ball appeared to be missing leg stump.

The second blow occurred in the 24th over when Ponting fired a direct hit from cover to run out Yuvraj Singh. MS Dhoni took the score to 134 before he became the fifth wicket to fall, trying to clip a harmless delivery from Doug Bollinger down the leg side. Raina didn't last long, cleaned up by Hauritz when he failed to connect with an attempted dab to third man and finally, Ravindra Jadeja ran himself out, attempting a non-existent single.

There would have been a moment of apprehension for Ponting when Harbhajan and Praveen played cameos but Shane Watson, who leaked runs against the same pair in Vadodara, redeemed himself today. Harbhajan opted for the batting Powerplay after Jadeja's exit and pushed the score to 204 but fell, scooping a return catch to Watson, who later induced Praveen to edge behind. Game over.

How did India lose this one though? Sehwag and Tendulkar had provided them the ideal start and though Tendulkar's dismissal was vital, even then, India held the advantage. Or so it seemed. Dhoni and Yuvraj, the heroes from the last game, were still in, the wicket was still batting-friendly and the bowling wasn't too threatening.

This is where the Australia, battered and bruised with injuries, showed their famed fighting spirit. They needed a moment of inspiration and it came from their captain. Ponting swooped in on a push from Dhoni at short cover and swung around to hit a direct hit at the striker's end to catch Yuvraj short of the crease. It was the spark Australia were looking for and they began to hustle the Indians on the field. The fielding was sharp and the bowling, if not spectacular, was tight.

They still needed a slice of luck to swing things decisively in their favour and they got it when Bollinger returned for his second spell in the 32nd over. It appeared to be a harmless delivery, bouncing down the leg side, but Dhoni nicked the attempted glance to the keeper.

Suddenly, the momentum had shifted and India's lower order was put under severe pressure. An alert Ponting kept making the right moves; with two left-handers Raina and Jadeja in the middle, he brought in the offspinner Hauritz for another spell. Hauritz took out a nervous Raina in the very first over and Ponting made yet another move that almost backfired on him. He gave the ball to Johnson, perhaps hoping that the errant bowler would redeem himself, but Harbhajan and Jadeja slammed a couple of boundaries. However, the pressure got to Jadeja, who was run out by who else but Ponting, and the chase had all but derailed.

The final margin of victory - 24 runs - was all the more surprising because Australia appeared to have lost the advantage after being restricted to a par total. Four Australian batsmen went past 40 but none carried on for a big score and the innings meandered at times, especially in the last ten overs where they scored only 49 runs. Ponting and Watson couldn't build on their promising partnership and the same fate befell Michael Hussey and Cameron White's association.

White played responsibly to keep Australia in the game. He has a reputation for powerful shots, but adapted his approach and scored in singles and twos. The big hits have eluded him so far in the series, reducing him to being merely a useful contributor rather than one who can take the game away from the opposition. His best shot was a well-adjusted short-arm slog sweep against Yuvraj Singh: He leaned forward to seemingly push it away for a single but at the last minute just stretched out to swat it high over midwicket. He went on to unfurl more skilful shots, when he backed away a couple of times against Harbhajan to loft inside-out against the turn, but for the main part, he drove and flicked for singles to rotate the strike.

He found solid support in Hussey and the duo added 73 runs for the fourth wicket with the left-hander playing another typical innings: he was calmness personified, pushing the ball into gaps for singles and collecting an odd boundary with a cover drive or a sweep. Occasionally, he charged out to the spinners to loft them over the in-field and one such stroke off Yuvraj sailed over wide long-on for six. However, he too fell after getting a start, pulling Yuvraj straight to deep midwicket.

Australia's task was made harder by the discipline of all the bowlers except Ishant Sharma. The new-ball bowlers, Praveen and Ashish Nehra, found enough movement to keep the top order quiet and both returned to choke the batsmen in the end overs. The spinners, too, found enough bite to cover up for Ishant's wayward spells. Harbhajan put in his best performance of the series, slowing up the pace and flighting on off and middle stump line. Harbhajan tried with the bat too but it was always going to be a tough for him to pull off the improbable.

Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • shane on November 4, 2009, 10:17 GMT

    Cmon Aussie!!! We gonna win this 5-2 even without missing so many players..I dont think india wud have been able to get a team on the field if they were missing abt 7 players..Indian team cant beat a 2nd string aus team that shows hw gud india is infact shows how strong australia is.. Cmon Aussie!!!

  • Anand on November 3, 2009, 23:57 GMT

    wow!! booom_India just announces himself a non-expert and goes on to say things about Sachin :)) Of all people Dhoni is an on-your-face kinda guy.. he isn't gonna entertain someone who is there in the team on goodwill... Sachin has never ever looked out of sorts in international... if you remember he is coming into the Aus series after a couple of great centuries in the last 5 ODIs he played... 163* and 138... your comments on Sachin only proves you lack of knowledge about Cricket

  • Anand on November 3, 2009, 23:49 GMT

    I also agree Warner would have been a much much better choice for Australia.. he would atleast not fail consistently :)) Nannes not being included in the squad is a puzzler... not sure if he is part of Aus' plans at all... This contest doesn't seem competitive enough anymore... Indians are matching their form with lack of experience in Aus side. Now Siddle is out too... so who's next?? any guesses ?? if Indians can't win against a second string bowling attack... its really pathetic... this is the best side India ever had in history... they can't relax for a bit if they want to aim at #1 ranking... I really really wish we had someone like Irfan Pathan in the line up... cut him some slack you selectors... he isn't a bad bowler by any means... he should have gone ahead of Munaf... Munaf is a horrible fielder and Irfan is more than a handy batsman... Bhajji and Irfan make real high quality all-rounders ... the time spent on Yusuf shud have been given to Irfan .. hope they realize soon...

  • Anand on November 3, 2009, 23:40 GMT

    I am shocked at Indians' display in this series... Australia are by far a more weakened side and apart from Ponting and may be Hussey there is no real experience in their side... Indians have gotten quite complacent is what I would have to think... you can't be unpredictable if you wanna be #1 team... losing this match was really a shame ... Why would people take a risk against Ponting?? am sure Yuvi said what he did without actually meaning it... evyone knows how quick Punter is... this sucks man... winning this match would have taken Indians to #1 and yet they could not get motivation to win the game... about Sachin's lbw.. that was some real low-class umpiring... some ppl just don't think about giving benefit of doubt... it was Sachin's game y'day and the end was very abrupt... Kohli lacked seriousness of the occasion...

  • krushikanthreddy on November 3, 2009, 17:08 GMT

    It's unfortunate to see that india had lost the match but there are some positive points to be taken like bowling and fielding departments have done excellently well. Our batting department should be improved.Also, aussies have also performed equally well, infact that led them to a victory. It's very exciting to see tight contests between the both sides. Hope the same thing will continue through the rest of the series.

  • Nav on November 3, 2009, 16:32 GMT

    I don't support boom_India. I feel Sachin need not retire. He is still a very good batsman. The problem is his batting position. I agree that he has lost many of his talents now. So he is not fit to open the innings. He will be tremendous middle order batsman. He can come one down or 2 down to anchor the innings.He is not at all aggressive. When he bats we feel like how difficult it is to bat on that pitch. When others bat, we feel like how easy it is!! To prove my point just compare the innings of Sachin and Ponting. Even with a second class bowling side Sachin is struggling. He may be playing excellent shots. But he is getting beaten, takes inside edges and so on while batting. I am sure, he can do better in the middle order.

  • Nav on November 3, 2009, 16:23 GMT

    I believe it is a blunder to send Jadeja at No.7. He is the last recognized batsman and all know that he cannot handle the pressure and he cannot hit boundaries. He can only score runs through singles. When will Dhoni get this simple common sense fact? Instead of Jadeja if someone else were there, I am sure India would have won the match. Let the series be over and we will know that Jadeja is not at all fit for that position. And as I said earlier, with this battng order, India will only if Yuvraj scores well. In my opinion India can win all the matches if the batting order is like this when batting second: Sehwag, Gambhir, Sachin, Yuvraj, Jadeja, Dhoni,Raina, Harbhajan, Praveen, Nehra, Ishant. When batting first order is not that important but still Jadeja should not come as the last recognised batsman : Sehwag, Gambhir, Sachin, Raina, Jadeja, Dhoni, Yuvraj, ... etc.

  • Venkat on November 3, 2009, 16:05 GMT

    Thanks to umpire,who declare Sachin lbw,when the ball was moving away from the leg stump.Why not use technology when it is available?

  • Shubham on November 3, 2009, 13:44 GMT

    I think that it was experiece which is missing frm Indian middle order. Rahul Dravid must be given a permanent place in the team. He can be adjusted. Overall still India has a fair chance to win by 5-2. Yes! why don't think positive. Dhoni still remains the key player for the team and Gambhir, everybody must be hoping him to be fit before the next ODI which is on Nov.5

  • Satyajit on November 3, 2009, 12:27 GMT

    An interesting series unfolding. Just when everybody wrote Aus off, they jumped back. No big innings so far from Sachin and Sehwag. Sachin LBW could have been the turning point of the game as he looked well set. But then, human errors do happen and we have to accept that. Aus is getting hit by some injuries but I don't think the loses are as big as they are shown to be. So far the real loses were Clarke and Lee and now Siddle joining that list. Interestingly the injury replacement Bollinger is currently the best bowler from Aus and their so called Top bowler Johnson is bowling rubbish. I wonder what had happed if Ishant picked up an injury and Munaf (or Tyagi) played in his place, probably things would have been better for Ind. One thing is for sure though... The fifty over format is alive and kicking and I feel the majority still likes this format if the sides are equally matched (unlike what happend in Chams trophy semi stage).

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