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Down & under in Guwahati

India's gamble to bat first on a tricky wicket backfired heavily as they suffered a six-wicket defeat against Australia in the sixth cricket one-dayer to allow the visitors to clinch the seven-match series by taking an unassailable 4-2 lead in Guwahati on Sunday, reports Atreyo Mukhopadhyay.

cricket Updated: Nov 08, 2009 22:29 IST
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay
Hindustan Times
Indian captain

Defeat hurts, always. The intensity of the pain depends on the manner it came. That they lost because of an astonishing top-order collapse at a time when they were talking about preserving wickets should make the Indians feel worse to go with the disappointment of losing the one-day international series with a game to spare against a depleted Australia.

There is no point in blaming Mahendra Singh Dhoni for electing to bat because it’s unlikely that the decision was taken without consulting others.

More importantly, apart from some routine swing, there was no sign of the new ball behaving awkwardly after the 8.30 a.m. start.

There was no hint of what was coming when the second ball of the match was slashed over backward-point by Virender Sehwag.

The Sunday crowd went delirious, anticipating an Indian comeback into the series before a fitting final show.

The pendulum and with it the mood swung decisively in the space of just nine overs — India 27 for five.

Not often does an attack, which was disciplined at best, reap such rich rewards. There were huge and big names in the batting order, statistics justifying their billing.

But in a capitulation seen rarely in conditions they are so familiar with, the end was in sight not even an hour into the game. When became the question thereon, not what.

To cut a long story short — not very long, after a second thought — it was largely about application errors.

Yuvraj Singh was out in an unfortunate manner and the one that got Dhoni might have missed off stump, but the rest at the top and in the middle were victims of soft dismissals.

After watching replays, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Sachin Tendulkar and Suresh Raina would all think with valid reasons that they could have done better with the deliveries which got them.

That runs could be scored and at a fast clip was shown later by less accomplished batsmen like Ravindra Jadeja and Praveen Kumar.

Although Shaun Marsh fell early, defending 170 was next to impossible and it never seemed that was going to happen. One healthy partnership was going to do the job and Ricky Ponting with Shane Watson ensured that.

Harbhajan Singh troubling the bat a few times notwithstanding, there was almost a resigned look in the way India went about their job.

They probably knew that they had reached the point of no return before Australia started the chase.

That should make the defeat, which gave the visitors an unassailable 4-2 lead, even bitter.

Scorecard

India: V Sehwag b Johnson 6, S Tendulkar c & b Bollinger 10, G Gambhir b Johnson 0, Yuvraj b Bollinger 6, M Dhoni lbw b Bollinger 24, S Raina c Hauritz b Johnson 0, R Jadeja c White b Bollinger 57, Harbhajan b Bollinger 0, P Kumar not out 54, A Nehra b Watson 4, M Patel b Watson 0

Extras (b-1, lb-1, w-4, nb-3) 9

Total (all out in 48 overs) 170

Fall of wkts: 1-7, 2-7, 3-23, 4-24, 5-27, 6-75, 7-75, 8-149, 9-170, 10-170.

Bowling: M Johnson 9-1-39-3, D Bollinger 10-4-35-5, C McKay 10-1-44-0, N Hauritz 9-2-19-0, S Watson 8-0-27-2, A Voges 2-0-4-0.

Australia: S Watson c Sehwag b Harbhajan 49, S Marsh lbw b Patel 6, R Ponting c Raina b Harbhajan 25, C White lbw b Raina 25, M Hussey not out 35, A Voges not out 23

Extras (b-6, lb-2, w-1) 9

Total: (For 4 wickets in 41.5 overs) 172

Fall of wkts: 1-24, 2-85, 3-90, 4-143

Bowling: P Kumar 2-0-10-0, A Nehra 3-0-21-0, M Patel 4-1-13-1, R Jadeja 10-1-36-0, Harbhajan 10-1-23-2, Yuvraj 7-1-29-0, S Raina 3-0-13-1, V Sehwag 2-0-8-0, S Tendulkar 0.5-0-11-0