Brad Williams celebrates the wicket of VVS Laxman as India lose their way
© AFP


Australia 235 for 5 (Martyn 61, Clarke 44*) beat India 198 (Dravid 49; Harvey 4-21) by 37 runs
Scorecard

A superb allround display from Michael Clarke, and a devastating exhibition of late-overs bowling from Ian Harvey inspired Australia to a 37-run victory in the final of the TVS Cup. Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Hemang Badani had given the raucous capacity crowd more than a few glimpses of hope, but India simply had no answers to the Clarke-Harvey show.

At 159 for 4, with Badani timing the ball superbly and Dravid rotating the strike cleverly, India were on course for a famous victory. Then, Badani went to sweep a Clarke delivery, which flew off the top edge to Andrew Symonds at square leg. It was a massive blow, given how fluently Badani had eased the ball through the covers each time Andy Bichel or Clarke erred in line and length.

Minutes later, Dravid too was back in the pavilion, having played on to Clarke. His 49 was another fine effort, but the manner of the dismissal was enough to rouse his own ire.

That set the stage for Harvey, who had been smacked around in his first spell by Tendulkar and Dravid. In the first over of his second spell, he bowled Murali Kartik and then yorked Zaheer Khan the next ball (186 for 8).

And after Ajit Agarkar had briefly excited a flagging crowd with a wonderful straight six off Clarke, Harvey came back to tie up the game. Harbhajan Singh spooned a slower ball to cover, where Symonds took a magnificent catch diving forward, and then Aavishkar Salvi was knocked over to leave India 37 short.

India's reply had started slowly, with Sehwag giving Nathan Bracken a return catch via the pad (8 for 1). VVS Laxman then tested Brad Williams's patience with two edged fours, before producing three authentic shots to the rope. An infuriated Williams responded with a delivery that hit the seam, kept low, and knocked out the off stump (36 for 2).

Tendulkar, who took over half an hour to strike his first four, opened up against Bichel and Harvey, and India were coasting when Bichel produced a superb off cutter to send back Tendulkar for 45 (99 for 3). Yuvraj Singh followed soon after, caught by Hayden at slip off Symonds, and India were tottering. Badani and Dravid gave it a good shot, but ultimately it wasn't quite enough.



A poor start for Australia, as Adam Gilchrist is bowled by Agarkar for 7
© AFP


Earlier, the Australians put 235 on the board despite a wretched start. Adam Gilchrist made just 7 before being bowled off the pads by Agarkar (16 for 1), and Hayden - who was gifted two chances by a butter-fingered Laxman - following soon after, thumping a Zaheer delivery to the same man at short cover (32 for 2).

Damien Martyn and Ricky Ponting played some superb strokes to up the run rate, but all that impetus was lost once Kartik and Harbhajan came on. Kartik bowled quite beautifully, flighting the ball and turning it sharply on a surface that was beginning to take appreciable turn.

Ponting (36), who had twice been reprieved by the hapless Laxman, edged one that turned sharply across the bat to first slip, where Laxman dived low to make some amends (112 for 3).

Symonds made just 10 before smashing Harbhajan straight to Badani at midwicket (129 for 4), and Martyn's tremendous anchoring effort ended at 61 when he flicked a Sehwag delivery to Yuvraj at midwicket (170 for 5).

India were in control at that stage, but Clarke's frenetic 28-ball 44 titled the scales, aided by a gritty 40 from Michael Bevan, who batted with a pulled hamstring. In the final analysis, justice was done, as an outstanding side who won six of their seven matches - and held most of the catches that came their way - beat one that lost four games, and fluffed too many lines in the field. Remember this day, and remember the name Michael Clarke, already on his way to becoming the next Australian legend.

Dileep Premachandran is assistant editor of Wisden Cricinfo.