India bounced back after their dismal performance in Pune to win the third One-Day International played at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Indore, against Australia by a whopping margin of 118 runs. Australia were all out for 181 runs in 35.5 overs, chasing a tough victory target of 300 in 50 overs.
The day clearly belonged to the world's premier batsman, Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. After being put into bat by Steve Waugh, India really wanted Tendulkar to fire on all guns. Waugh's choice of bowling first was based on the fact that there was some moisture on the track. Tendulkar initially tamed the bowling by playing sensibly, curtailing his extravagant stroke play but once he got to his fifty, he cut loose.
Tendulkar made 139 runs off 125 balls decorating his knock with 19 classy strokes past the ropes. This was Tendulkar's 28th ODI hundred and in the end it proved to be a match winning one. Indore went into the record books today, Tendulkar becoming the first batsman in the history of ODI cricket to reach the milestone of 10,000 runs. In the course of the Indian innings, Glenn McGrath became the third Australian to reach 200 wickets, when he bowled Vijay Dahiya for nought.
Chasing India's imposing total of 299/8 in 50 overs, Australia was bound to struggle. On a pitch with uneven bounce and keeping low, fluent stroke play was not really on. The fact that Australia's best ODI batsman Mark Waugh was out of the team with a fractured finger must have been a big let down for his twin brother Steve Waugh. Australia's policy of rotation seems not to be working; today they rested their in-form batsman Matthew Hayden.
Damien Martyn and Adam Gilchrist were the opening batsmen today and they put on 46 runs. Martyn (19) looked good, but was caught behind off Srinath. Gilchrist played a cracker of an innings of 63 (70 balls, 10 fours, 1 six) that included 22 runs from an over bowled by Zaheer Khan. It was an amazing display of power hitting, with the sequence reading as 4,0,6,4,4,4 as Australia rekindled hopes of a victory. Gilchrist was given a couple of reprieves by Ganguly and Dahiya soon after he got to his fifty. Gilchrist's dismissal at 102 in the 20th over resulted in a tailspin and Australia never recovered from it.
Gilchrist's tame dismissal came about when he slapped a full toss from Harbhajan Singh straight to Ganguly at mid-wicket. Ajit Agarkar (3/38), Harbhajan Singh (3/37) and Srinath (2/34) were just about too much for the jaded Aussies. Ricky Ponting (23) failed again. Bevan (7) was bowled of an inside edge, cutting at a ball to close to his body. Harvey (1) and Lehmann (1) did not apply themselves and gave easy catches when they should have given support to their captain marvel, Steve Waugh. Andrew Symonds was unlucky to be given out, caught behind by the umpire. The ball clearly hit the pad on its way to the keeper and the bat was too far away from the ball. There wasn't much fight left in the Aussies as Steve Waugh (23) holed out a catch in the deep after Shane Warne (18) had run himself out.
Earlier, Ganguly dropped himself down from the opener's role and asked Rahul Dravid to open the innings with Tendulkar. Dravid (15) was caught behind by Gilchrist off an impressive Damien Fleming. VVS Laxman joined Tendulkar in the middle and steadied the Indian innings. They put on a match winning partnership of 199 runs for the second wicket in just 29.4 overs. Laxman made 83 (88 balls, 6 fours) before being run out. These two batsmen have had moments of indiscretion in running between wickets and this time it was Laxman's turn to get out.
India slipped from 231/1 in the 38th over to 299/8 in 50 overs. Damien Fleming shone with his bowling and finished with the most respectable figures of 10-1-34-2. His figures were achieved in the middle of a deluge of runs when Tendulkar was going full throttle. Ganguly lasted only for three balls before sending the ball high in the air to give Bevan an easy catch off the bowling of Fleming. McGrath came back and dismissed Tendulkar, caught by Fleming while going for a pull shot of a rising delivery. McGrath also accounted for Dahiya (0) and Dinesh Mongia (4). Ajit Agarkar (1) fell lbw to Ian Harvey, soon after surviving a big leg before appeal from McGrath.
Hemang Badani, who made a hundred in the previous match, swung Warne for a massive six over long on but ran himself out after making 23 runs off 25 balls. Today was yet another day that belonged to the little master. Tendulkar played almost all the strokes in the game. A delicate late cut off Martyn to the third man fence, a paddle sweep off Symonds, a cracking inside out cover drive off Warne, pulling and cutting McGrath, it was all Tendulkar in full flow. Cammie Smith, the match referee did not waste much time in declaring Tendulkar as the Man of the Match.
India are 2-1 up in the five match series. The next game will be played on April 3 in the east coast harbour city of Vishakapatnam.