Ishant powers India to victory

Published: Sunday, February 10, 2008, 3:35 [IST]
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Melbourne: Teenage fast bowler Ishant Sharma reinforced his status as one of the most exciting young talents in world cricket with a man-of-the-match performance to inspire his side to a five-wicket victory in a tri-series match against Australia at the MCG here.

Set just 160 to win after Sharma rocked the Australians with four wickets, there were plenty of anxious moments for the young Indians with the bat when they lost 3-13 to slump to 102 for five against tight bowling from the Australian seamers.

India had looked in control at 89 for two, but when Sachin Tendulkar's 400th one-day international innings ended on 44 and Yuvraj Singh's woeful summer continued when he departed for three, the Australians had the scent of victory.

However, youngster Rohit Sharma (39 not out) and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (17 not out) weathered the storm with determined and composed batting that yielded an unbroken 58-run stand to ensure victory.

Dhoni praised Ishant Sharma's bowling and said he and Rohit Sharma were content to see off Australia's fast bowlers and wait for the part-time spin of Michael Clarke and Andrew Symonds late in the Indian innings.

"They had four perfect bowlers, but they had to use the part-timers and we were just waiting for them," he said.

"Rohit was up to the mark and we batted well.

"We knew there would be chances, we just had to wait for the right moment."

The result breathed new life into the tri-series and was just India's second one-day win against the home side in 18 matches in Australia since 1986.

After winning the toss and electing to bat, the Australians made their second-lowest total ever batting first with only 159 in 43.1 overs.

Australian captain Ricky Ponting, whose own form woes continued when he failed to reach double figures, was pleased with how his side fought back in the field, but conceded they never had enough runs on the board.

"We bowled really well, fielded well and kept ourselves in the game for a long time," he said.

"But 159 was never enough and we batted poorly tonight, and India bowled and fielded well."

Ishant Sharma overcame problems with his run-up and early punishment from opener Matthew Hayden to wreak havoc on the Australian top order, claiming 4-38 just a day after Virender Sehwag warned India were after Australia's title as the world's best team.

Sharma, 19, should have had five wickets, with wicketkeeper Dhoni grassing a chance from tailender Nathan Bracken late in the Australian innings.

He was well supported by Shanth Sreesanth, with 3-31, and Irfan Pathan (2-26).

Only Mike Hussey held the Australian innings together with an unbeaten 65, his 53-run stand with Brett Lee for the seventh wicket adding much-needed respectability to the total.

Sharma wrapped up the innings when Dhoni completed his fifth dismissal of the innings to remove Stuart Clark.


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