Harbhajan gets his man despite Australian fightback

Published: Sunday, March 2, 2008, 14:23 [IST]
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Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh had the last laugh in his bitter rivalry with Australian opener Matthew Hayden as the home side made 239 for eight in their first tri-series final here on Sunday.

The Australians were in deep trouble early after winning the toss and electing to bat, but Hayden led their fightback with an 82 and Mike Hussey chipped in with 45.

Hayden looked like he was on a mission after his war of words with Harbhajan in the days before the first match of the best-of-three finals.

The burly left-hander had called Harbhajan an "obnoxious weed", while the Indian responded by saying the opener was one of the least liked players in world cricket.

Hayden was at his aggressive best initially and passed 6,000 one-day international runs when he got off the mark with a four straight down the ground.

He struck a number of powerful boundaries, including six in Irfan Pathan's wayward first two overs, as he raced to his half-century in just 43 balls despite the loss of early wickets at the other end.

The home side had slumped to 24 for three, but Hayden remained firm and teamed with Andrew Symonds (31) for a 100-run stand that lifted their side back into the game.

He did have a slice of luck on 41, when square leg umpire Daryl Harper turned down a stumping appeal off Pathan, with replays showing Hayden's foot may have been in the air had the decision been referred to the third umpire.

Hayden seemed set for a century, but swept Harbhajan to deep square leg, where shock inclusion Piyush Chawla charged in off the fence to complete a fine catch.

Hayden had faced 88 balls and hit 10 fours amid another poor top order performance from the Australians.

Symonds helped steady the ship, but he too fell to his arch-rival, caught on the mid-wicket boundary after advancing at Harbhajan.

Harbhajan had been struggling to get his line and pace right before that dismissal, but his confidence surged once he had a wicket and the rest of his spell was impressive as he finished with 2-38.

The Australians got off to another disastrous start, with Adam Gilchrist the first to go for seven, caught at mid-on after top-edging an attempted pull off Praveen Kumar.

Captain Ricky Ponting's lean summer continued when he inside edged Kumar on to his leg stump for one.

The previously in-form Michael Clarke made just four, although he looked a touch unlucky to be given out caught behind off Ishant Sharma.

The teenage Chawla impressed with his leg-spinners, with 0-33 from his 10 overs, while Kumar made the important early breakthroughs to finish with 2-49.

Ishant Sharma had 1-32 from eight overs, but was forced from the field by an apparent hand injury.

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