India let Australia back in with late stumble

Published: Tuesday, March 4, 2008, 13:31 [IST]
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India let Australia back into the second one-day international cricket final at the Gabba here Tuesday when they stumbled over the last 10 overs to score 258-9.

After winning the toss and choosing to bat, India were 205-3 at one stage and heading for a score of more than 300.

But when an injury-hampered Sachin Tendulkar was dismissed for 91, the scoring rate slowed and Australia's bowlers began to gain control.

Tendulkar was well supported by Yuvraj Singh (38), captain M.S. Dhoni (36) and Robin Uthappa (30), but the Indians were at least 50 runs short of where they should have been.

The openers were untroubled early on, enjoying the consistent pace and bounce of the Gabba wicket, but they struggled to score quickly against the accuracy of Brett Lee and Nathan Bracken.

They also had a let off when Ricky Ponting dropped Tendulkar on seven, the Australian skipper spilling a difficult diving chance at point.

The little master made the Australians pay for the miss as he began to settle and increase the scoring rate.

He brought up his 50 from 70 balls when he dabbed a short ball from Stuart Clark to third man, delighting the large number of Indian supporters in the crowd.

Clark broke the opening partnership when he had Uthappa caught by James Hopes at mid-off after mistiming an attempted drive.

But Tendulkar continued his imperious form, dispatching the Australian bowlers to all parts of the large ground with ease.

Gautam Gambhir gave his wicket away on 15 when he tried to hit part-time spinner Michael Clarke out of the ground, only to hole out on the long-on boundary.

Yuvraj joined Tendulkar in the middle and the pair put on 54 in quick time until Yuvraj also threw his innings away when he hit a poor ball from Andrew Symonds straight to Matthew Hayden in the deep.

Dhoni came in to try to continue the quick scoring and keep the Australians under pressure.

He and Tendulkar scored freely, even though both appeared badly affected by injuries -- Tendulkar nursing a sore leg and Dhoni struggling with a back strain.

With the score on 205, Tendulkar was finally out after trying to bunt a ball away for a quick single and being caught by Ponting, 84 runs after the Aussie skipper had spilled the earlier chance.

The Indians then kept giving their wickets away to innocuous bowling.

Rohit Sharma (2) was next to go when he pushed a Clarke delivery straight to Symonds at cover. Irfan Pathan (12) was bowled by Bracken and in the same over Dhoni was caught in the deep by Clarke.

The bowlers in the tail-end quickly followed and India were lucky to scramble to their final total.

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