Two courageous warriors in Ajay Jadeja and Robin Singh proved not enough for India while chasing a victory target of 283 against a well-equipped professional side Australia in the Super Six league of the World Cup 1999. India, despite an unbeaten 100 by Jadeja , could muster only 205 in 48.2 overs. It was a significant win for Australia in the opener of the Super Six.
To start with Mohammed Azharuddin, the Indian captain, created a wide scope for a debate which might not end for a long time to come. In their long One-Day cricket history India had never made any notable reputation for chasing targets successfully. Yet the captain chose to field first. What made him to take such a decision would remain a mystery especially because India had lost this match.
India fielded Javagal Srinath, Venkatesh Prasad, Robin Singh ,Anil Kumble, and Debashish Mohanty for this game . With Sourav Ganguly having proved his worth as an effective bowler in the earlier match against England , the brain-trust of the team must have thought that fielding first could turn out to be a sensible decision. But the Australian had better ideas and performed as though India's decision had come in favour of them from the heavens.
Mark Waugh and Adam Gilchrist the Australian openers began on a cautious note and progressed with methodical efficiency to add 97 runs in 20.1 overs before Ganguly got rid of Gilchrist (31). Waugh and Ricky Ponting dealt with the attack deftly and put on 60 runs in the next 10 overs before Robin Singh removed both of them in one over (158 for three), Ponting made 23 and Waugh 83 (99 balls). While Ponting played the ball on to his stumps, Waugh hoisted a catch to Venkatesh Prasad at deep square leg.
With still 20 overs to go India were expected to pile on pressure but despite fielding all their five regular bowlers they struggled in vain . It was 204 for 3 in 40 overs and 282 for six at the end. Crisp strok-play and brisk running between the wickets enabled Australia to make the most of the opportunity to bat first. Their batsmen thus have done a creditable job that should have inspired their gifted bowling attack.
What a fantastic star Glenn McGrath gave Australia. All India's hopes pinned on the class and calibre of Sachin Tendulkar , Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid and on the experience of Azharuddin were shattered within 6.2 overs when the score-board read a dismal 17 for four. McGrath had accounted for Tendulkar, Dravid and Azharuddin through his clever new-ball bowling while Ganguly fell to Damien Fleming. Were India heading for their lowest ever One-Day cricket total? -was the question on everyone's lip.
Then came the two dedicated men Jadeja and Robin Singh who gave some respec tability to Indian cricket by adding 141 runs in the next 31 overs. No doubt, the piar could not achieve any great rune-rate during its association. But that was understandable. After all they had come together at a precarious situation and then they were battling against some quality bowling. But once in the 37th over they belted Shane Warne for 21 runs to rise the total from 133 to 154. But tragedy struck India in the next over itself.