India has been playing in this series without a genuine fifth bowler. That is considered as a huge risk in modern ODI cricket. Against a well-equipped batting line-up this idea of fielding only four regular bowlers would be exposed. That was what happened today. India was forced to use eight bowlers in an effort to curb the high run-rate that was maintained by Australia throughout the innings. Except wicket-keeper Dighe, Rahul Dravid and Jacob Martin, all others bowled today. The result: Australia raced to 329 for 5 in 50 overs.
Only Javagal Srinath (5-0-16-0) and Venkatesh Prasad (6-0-18-0) showed an economical first spell. Against an all-conquering opening pair of Mark Waugh and Gilchrist those two first spells became insignificant. The pair was together till the end of 30th over (163 for one) before Gilchrist pulled Kumble into the hands of Dravid at deep mid-wicket. A rapid 100-run association between Waugh and Ricky Ponting (43 in 33 balls) aggravated India's agony. Dravid accepted a pull-drive by Pointing off Kumble (263 for two in 43.1 overs) to separate the pair. Mark Waugh recorded his 14th ODI century and was stumped by Dighe off Tendulkar (279 for 3 in 44.4 overs).
Breezy efforts by Andrew Symonds (26 off 15) and Shane Lee (27 not out off 15) highlighted the end overs. Australia amassed 92 runs in the last 10 overs to complete the slaughter of an innocent-looking Indian attack. The Indian batsmen have seldom come up with a collective effort in this tour. So when India began the chase today, very few would have given it even an outside chance. "Will they come anywhere near the 300-mark?"- was the popular question. India just succumbed to the enormous pressure applied by the crafty and varied Australian attack that was, as usual, backed by outstanding fielding.
Saurav Ganguly, who has two centuries under his belt, was the first to go. His edged stroke off Glenn McGrath flew towards slip fielder Shane Lee. A diving wicket-keeper Gilchrist came between the flying ball and Lee. But Lee did not lose his concentration and took the catch. That was in the 3rd over. In the 11th over Stuart MacGill came up with a spectacular catch at the third-man position to send back Tendulkar. Tendulkar slashed a short-pitched wide ball from Brett Lee. Normally such a shot would go to the fence. But MacGill sprinted down to his right and came with a diving catch. Off the very next ball, Brett Lee trapped Hrishikesh Kanitkar leg before (39 for 3 in 11 overs). Thereafter Rahul Dravid batted gallantly to make 63 in 81 balls with 10 fours.
He was brilliantly taken by Gilchrist off Shane Lee (107 for 4 in 26.4). India's chances began to evaporate at that juncture. Some bold efforts by Anil Kumble (26) and Sameer Dighe (25) prolonged the inevitable till the fifth ball of the 47th over (177 all out). Brett Lee returned figures of 8.5-1-27-5.