India need 245 to win against Australia

Published: Saturday, September 16, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Kuala Lumpur: Hammered by the Aussie batsmen in first 15 overs, Indian bowlers bounced back hard to restrict the world champions for a modest 244 in 49.2 overs in the rain-affected third One-dayer of the DLF Cup tri-series here today.

Electing to bat first, Shane Watson (79) and Phil Jaques (25) gave Australia a blazing start adding 64 runs in 10 overs before Munaf Patel (three for 54) and Harbhajan Singh (two for 26) rocked the Oz boat to put Man in Blue in commanding position.

In between, weather also seemed play spoilsport and the game was stopped for 20 minutes towards the end of the innings. India have already lost the rain-affected tie against West Indies on Thursday on run rate.

Munaf Patel shared the new ball with Ajit Agarkar and the pair bowled a tight leash initially restricting the hitherto untested opening pair of Watson and Jaques.

Keeping the line and length right the duo made scoring difficult and Australia could add just 16 runs in the first five overs.

It was then the two batsmen looked to throw around their willows and Watson, who was dropped by Harbhajan Singh in the seventh over off Agarkar, turned the heat on to the Indians.

Promoted to the batting order, Watson was particularly severe on Munaf afterwards hitting him straight over long on for four and then followed it up with a flat six over mid-wicket.

Australia went past fifty in the eighth over. India got the first wicket in the last ball of ninth over when Jacques skied a delivery from Munaf and Sehwag took a comfortable catch.

Ricky Ponting came in next and looked in ominous form hitting boundaries at will. Irfan Pathan was introduced from the far end and the left-hander brought the biggest success for India in the innings so far by removing Ponting.

It was a well set up move as skipper Dravid moved Sachin to backward square leg, Irfan pitched in short and juicy and Ponting pulled it up straight to Sachin. Ponting made 19 of 21 balls with 4 fours. At the end of 16 overs Australia were 92 for two.

After the dismissal of Ponting, wickets fell at regular interval even though the Aussies continued to maintain good pace of scoring.

Dravid introduced spin at both the ends in the form of Harbhajan and Virender Sehwag and the move paid off well.

Harbhajan Singh bowled excellent spell from the far end to peg back the Aussies. He removed Damien Martyn caught behind the wickets and then had Cosgrove again edging it to the slips and Dravid holding the catch.

All this while Watson was enjoying his promotion and show cased his wide rang of shots combined with brutal power. He hit for fours in an Irfan over and later took RP Singh to midwicket for six. Watson was finally foxed by Harbhajan and caught brilliantly by Suesh Raina at mid-wicket.

Watson made a career best 79 off 74 balls with 10 fours and two sixes.

After Watson, it was Michael Clarke who stood firm at one end. Clarke made his second successive half-century in the series and anchored the Australian innings before falling to Munaf for 64. The Australian lower order tried to pep up the scoring but only managed to throw away their wickets. Brad Haddin was run out by Sehwag while Mitchell Johnson was caught brilliantly by wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni off Agarkar.

Stuart Clarke fell to Munaf before rain stopped play in the 49th over. The teams return to the ground after 20 minutes but Australia failed to add to their score and Agarkar removed Brad Hogg to finish off the tail.

Earlier, India made one change to the team, bringing in Yuvraj Singh for Md Kaif. While Australia made three changes bringing in Stuart Clarke, Damien Martyn and Brad Hogg.

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