Bangalore: Batting maestro Tendulkar (120-ball 117*) played his best ODI innings of the summer as India wrapped up first of the best-of-three finals of CB tri-series with a convincing six-wicket victory against Australia at the SCG in Sydney on Sunday.
After having endured a painfully poor run in the ensuing series, batting genius made his critics eat the dust with a match winning innings. His flowing knock was studded with 10 hits to fence.
A veteran of 416 ODIs steered India out of trouble with a fine 123-run stand with the youngster Rohit Sharma for the fourth wicket.
The Mumbai duo made the formidable Aussie attack look below average thro' some exhilarating batting. In a jugalbandi of sorts Sachin and Rohit flayed the attack all around the park.
Sachin who had a quiet series so far chose the right occassion to find the lost touch. His innovative shots-upper cuts, inside out shots, paddle sweeps-was a treat to watch and only the batsman of Sachin's class can play these risky shots without the element of risk involved in it. I'm sure even purists of the sport were pleased to see such 'uncultured' shots.
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The hosts must now win in Brisbane on Tuesday to send the series to a decider.
India, chasing a competative 240-run target, got off to a fine start before make-shift opener Robin Uthappa (17) was out to a terrific Michael Hussey catch from the bowling of Hopes.
Running at full pace and diving forward from deep square leg, Hussey picked up the ball centimetres from the ground.
India slumped further when the in-form Gautam Gambhir (three) was run out after going to sleep just six runs later.
Tendulkar called his team-mate through for a second run but Mitchell Johnson at third man, sensing Gambhir was slow to react, threw brilliantly to the non-striker's end.
Hopes gathered and threw down the stumps from a few metres away with the Indian No.3 well short of his ground.
Yuvraj Singh again looked in no man's land, limping to 10 before Brad Hogg (1/38) went right through him with a flat, quick delivery which crashed into off-stump.
But Tendulkar found an ally in Sharma and their partnership ensured India home.
Earlier, Hayden stroked 88-ball 82 to steer the hosts to a healthy 239/8 after India new-ball bowlers Praveen and Ishant struck early to leave 'em reeling on 23/3.
The burly Queenslander shared a 100-run partnership along with Symonds (31) to steady the tottering Aussie innings. Hussey made a solid 67-ball 45 while Lee (17 off 10) played a little cameo to take their side post a competitive total.
Praveen and Harbhajan were the top bowlers for India taking two wickets apiece. Pathan had a off day conceding too many runs. Left-arm seamer gave away as many as 63 runs in his 7 overs.