Falling at the scent of bounce
Life on the pitch snuffs out the fight from India’s top order batsmen at The Gabba. Amol Karhadkar reports. Scorecard | The story so farindia Updated: Feb 20, 2012 01:27 IST
With three tiers of stands decked with chairs, the Brisbane Cricket Ground, like the MCG, must have given India the feel of playing at home on Sunday.
However, the 22 yards that matters the most in the middle of a lush-green outfield would have taken all the homely feeling away. A deck with bounce and movement meant the sorry tale of the Test series returned to haunt India against Australia in the CB Series.And when 'keeper Matthew Wade ran a good 20 yards and dived to pouch Zaheer Khan -- his second sensational catch - to complete his and pace bowler Ben Hilfenhaus's five victims, Australia registered a crushing 110-run win. India not just lost their top position in the tri-series table to the hosts, but they conceded a bonus point as well to Australia. With rain threatening Tuesday's match against Sri Lanka and Dhoni to miss out due to suspension, India will have to fight hard to earn a place in the finals.
It was a day when, from the start, nothing went India's way. Once Dhoni lost the toss, it was clear India had to field in hot and humid conditions. It affected the bowling unit badly as Zaheer Khan had come in for offie R Ashwin to make it a four-man pace attack.
Once an exhausted Zaheer finished his impressive spell of 10 overs in the 40th, India knew the Australian batsmen, who had slowed down in the middle overs after David Warner's blitzkrieg, will go hard at the other bowlers.
Neither Umesh Yadav or Irfan Pathan or Vinay Kumar could contain the onslaught as Australia, thanks to a disciplined 90-run stand between rookie Peter Forrest and Mike Hussey followed by a whirlwind 36-ball 65 unbeaten partnership between David Hussey and Daniel Christian, mopped 101 runs off the last 10 overs.
Once India lost three wickets in the first six overs the writing was on the wall. The in-form Gautam Gambhir edged one from a pumped up Brett Lee, to give Wade his first catch of the day. Four overs later, after being hit on the helmet by a Lee delivery, an out-of-touch Sachin Tendulkar played a reckless uppercut off Hilfenhaus to deep third man. It appeared Tendulkar was offering catching practice to Xavier Doherty, who had dropped Virat Kohli at the same position.
And once Rohit Sharma played a rash stroke, trying to drive Lee on the rise but only managing an edge to Wade, the rest of the game was going to be a formality. Dhoni scored his second successive fifty, but he always knew it was going to be in vain.