There were two run outs off direct hits featuring Ricky Ponting in the fourth ODI on Monday. The first one saw the Aussie skipper walking back to the pavilion and turned out to be one of the reasons why the visitors fell short of getting what they were looking like at one stage.
The second one saw Ponting catch Yuvraj Singh short of the crease at the non-striker's end in an attempt to steal a single. It was one of the main reasons why Australia were leaving for Hyderabad having got back on even terms, reducing the seven-game series to a best-of-three affair hereon. There were other similarities in how the two innings unfolded as well. Even though they won eventually, the Australian innings was a story of what could have been. Four batsmen made notable contributions and none of them got a big score which gave one the impression that their efforts wouldn't be good enough.
On a lesser scale in terms of runs, the Indian innings too followed the same pattern. All in the top seven barring Virat Kohli, who replaced the injured Gautam Gambhir, got starts. None stuck around for long enough to seriously challenge the target. Harbhajan Singh brought alive the drums in the stands for a while, but that was temporary.
Considering the conditions for batting, Australia's 250 was decent, not safe by any means. They owed it largely to Cameron White who overcame technical shortcomings by application and dogged spirit.
The industrious Victorian looked awkward at times against Harbhajan and defied the odds by devising his own methods. He used the slog-sweep to good effect and also pulled out of the hat two outrageous inside-out hits over extra-cover.
Depending heavily on the top five, Australia found runs from everyone except from Shaun Marsh. They looked good to get more than 250 at several points and each time they did, India broke through. All four who got runs got out after playing themselves in and, at the break, it seemed as if India had things under control.
Virender Sehwag's violent start strengthened the belief but like Australia, Indians too kept losing wickets. The frequency of fall was actually more which turned out to be the difference between the teams in the end. Sachin Tendulkar might have got a decision, others succumbed to soft dismissals.
The result was a fair one and also a tribute to the spirit of the world champions missing a number of key players.
Victory here would have pushed India to the top of ODIs rankings, but at least on Monday only one team deserved to be there.