Karthik is fast gaining the reputation of being the crisis man in the Indian batting line-up. An unlikely hero, who has emerged out of the shadows, to assert his utility as a batsman, if not as a keeper, once again proved that the pint-sized carried a cool head. Karthik reached the maiden fifty of his ODI career off 72 deliveries in his eighth appearance for India.
The Tamil Nadu batsman was finally accounted for by Bradshaw for 63, which besides being his highest in the ODIs, will be remembered for the temperament and the pace at which it was played.
As wickets tumbled, Karthik culled runs at a healthy strike-rate of 72. The innings included seven hits to the fence. Hs 62 run partnership with Ajit Agarkar for the eighth wicket lent some respectability to the Indian score. Karthik was accounted for by Bradshaw who bowled him as the batsman tried to force the pace.
Ajit Agarkar's cameo of 40 (run out by Bravo) towards the end helped India post a fighting total. The batsman played fluently on either side of the wicket to help the hosts reach some respectability in his late flourish. His innings lasted 47 balls and was studded with four boundaries.
Earlier, India won the toss and chose to bat first on a pitch that looked dry and two-paced. Inexplicably captain Rahul Dravid chose to bat, knowing fully well that the dew could make life difficult for the bowlers later in the match.
His decision to bat first immediately backfired as the wicket displaying a devil inside with the ball stopping sometimes and at other times the ball rising sharply from good-length. The batsmen found it difficult to adjust.
If Gautam Gambhir (2) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (6) brought about their own peril, trying to negotiate deliveries that were bowled down the leg side, Sourav Ganguly (13) and Sachin Tendulkar were undone by the dual-pace of the wicket.
Gambhir (2) was the first to make the journey back to the dressing room as he needlessly tried to flick a short of length delivery from Ian Bradshaw that was straying down the leg side and ended up giving a catch behind the wicket.
Ganguly, who stayed at the wicket for 16 balls and looked confident taking sharp singles and letting go a trademark drive on the off-side, was caught off-guard by a Darren Powell delivery that rose from the goodlength spot. His short arm pull went straight down R Morton's throat in short mid-wicket. Skipper Dravid had in the meantime settled to a nice rhythm hitting three boundaries off his legs.
Tendulkar was the next to go. Powell frustrated the little master with three full-length stuff and then let go a short one that stopped onto Tendulkar, making the master blaster take a false drive and loop the ball to mid-on. He did not even open his account, but entered the record books with most number of ODI appearances counting 376 eclipsing Sanath Jayasurya's record.
This was second of the four wickets Powell would take to return with his best ever ODI figure of 10 overs, two maidens, 27 runs and four wickets. His previous best was three for 33 against Pakistan in Multan in 2006.
Dravid was the next to go, playing all over a well disguised slower from Powell, to be bowled through the gates for 22 that had four hits to the fence. The backbone of Indian batting was gone. The logic of including Joginder Sharma as an all-rounder into the side fell flat on its face as Powell yorked the Haryana batsman for one, finishing his 10 overs on a trot from Mahanadi end.
Dhoni's poor string returned as he top edged a Devon smith delivery down the leg side to give the bowler a simple caught and bowled for six.
Harbhajan Singh and Ramesh Powar were accounted for by Bravo.