India beat Aus to clinch CB Series
These moments come hard in a cricketer's career. Going to Australia and winning a tournament must have began as a distant dream for Dhoni's men, but it turned out to be a reality. India clinched the humdinger of a second final against Australia and with it, won a one-day tournament for the first time in 22 years. Irfan Pathan finished the game off with two wickets in the final over to give India hard-fought victory at Brisbane.
It was a run-chase that had many aspects to it. The initial burst from Praveen Kumar ripped off Australia's top-order with Adam Gilchrist leaving caught behind in the first over itself. Then followed Ponting, attempting an unusual pull-shot early on to one that was straight from Kumar. He departed for 1, with Australia 2 wickets down for 8. Michael Clarke then made his way back for 17, when he was cleaned up by the young UP-all-rounder.
Australia were in all sorts of trouble when the two local boys came into bat. Matthew Hayden and Andrew Symonds had a job in hand and they did manage to pull things back a bit for the Aussies, by adding a fruitful partnership. The two started cautiously, giving the bowlers their due when the ball was jagging around. But, once they settled down - Hayden and Symonds eased into their typical bully-like innings - scoring at a decent pace to give Australia some hope.
Hayden reached his fifty off 62 balls, and that included six hits to the fence at that stage. However, four runs later, he saw his end - thanks to a mix-up between him and Symonds. Hayden's dismissal came at a wrong time for Australia as a definite partnership was building. One then became two, as Harbhajan Singh trapped his nemesis, Andrew Symonds for 42 leg-before and by the time he was gone, the Aussies were five down.
James Hopes and Michael Hussey came into the dark with a humungous task awaiting them - scoring consistently at over a run-a-ball. Hussey and Hopes seemed like coming to terms with the enormous score ahead of them and Hussey, in particular with his brisk running between the wickets and the occasional boundary took Australia close.
The bowling change from Dhoni worked for India, when Sreesanth dented Australia's chances by removing Hussey caught behind for 44. Hopes in the meanwhile was suddenly falling short of partners and once that happened, he started going for the runs himself. Praveen Kumar then picked up Brett Lee clean bowled to give India a good chance of clinching the tournament. Sreesanth followed it up with Mitchell Johnson's wicket and then it was upto Irfan Pathan's brilliant last over for India to clinch tournament glory. Hopes reached his fifty and gave Australia a ray of hope with a flat six over mid-wicket off Sreesanth in the second-last over.
If we had to replay the last over, it went something like this - Hopes took the single off the first ball with Australia needing 12 off the last five balls. And then Pathan struck a blow to remove Bracken caught by Chawla for 1. Hopes got the strike and then took two off the next ball to take it down to ten. Then the moment - when the Gabba went berserk, high on an Indian victory - with Hopes driving it up to Chawla and Pathan finishing things off.
Earlier, it was an innings that started on a rather sedate note, built a gradual momentum towards a total in mind and then lost its way. That perhaps sums up India's effort after winning the toss and opting to bat first on a belter of a wicket at Brisbane in the 2nd CB Series final. Sachin Tendulkar was yet again the man with the runs, scoring 91 to guide India to 258/9 off their 50 over quota.
Bouyed by their win against Australia in the first final at Sydney, India began the second contest on a rather sedate note - with both batsmen preferring to be cautious than adventurous. The first boundary of India's innings came as late as the seventh over, when Uthappa helped Lee's ball on its way to the fence. Tendulkar's approach was also similar - to see the new ball through and then he opened himself. A superb baseball-like straight pull welcomed Stuart Clark into the attack. India reached their fifty in 79 balls.
Sachin Tendulkar reached his fifty when he dabbed one down to third man off Clark. The 70-ball fifty was highly composed of a larger percentage of boundaries, which he began stroking once he got his eyes in. Some of the usual shots were back in action - the straight drives, the cover-drives, the dabs over third man. He looked extremely confident, keen on giving his innings the momentum it needed to put a competitive score.
Then, Robin Uthappa threw his wicket away to Stuart Clark after getting off to a good solid start when he got a leading edge that went straight into the hands of James Hopes, who made no mistake in grabbing a straightforward, easy catch. Uthappa departed for 30.
Michael Clarke struck an important blow for Australia when he removed Gautam Gambhir early for 15. It was tossed outside the off-stump by Clarke. Gambhir came down the track to clear long-on and drove it very hard - but could only manage to find the waiting Mitchell Johnson, who completed the catch. India were 121/2 when Gambhir departed.
Yuvraj Singh went in the same way he came into bat. A six off the second ball he faced showed signs of an innings that could change the course of the game. But, it only flattered to deceive. While Yuvraj was in the middle, the innings developed a gusto-type momentum to it - with the Australians looking totally down. Yuvraj stroked intermittent boundaries to apply more pressure and then a huge impulsive stroke for six before departing two balls later, trying to hit one out of the park - came on slow to the batsman and holing out to Hayden for a run-a-ball 38.
There was ecstacy in the reverse-sweep he played in the 80s - a shot we dont see often from Tendulkar that late in the innings. And, there was agony - when he tried to come down the track, but could only manage to push the ball to short mid-on, where Ponting arrived in time to take a brilliant diving catch. Tendulkar went for 91, just nine runs short of a second consecutive hundred. India, 205/4.
Immediately after Tendulkar's wicket, the Indian innings seemed like losing its way when Michael Clarke removed in-form batsman Rohit Sharma for 2. He bowled it around outside off, the batsman drove it on the up, where Symonds did the rest by snapping a sharp catch. India were 209/5, when Sharma departed.
And then, the innings fell apart. They lost two wickets in an over - that of Irfan Pathan, cleaned up by Bracken trying to go for the late-inning hoick and then Dhoni off the last ball, caught at long-on by Clarke. In between those two dismissals, Dhoni struck an important six to push India closer to the 250 mark.
Brett Lee then removed Harbhajan Singh in the penultimate ball of the 49th over, caught in front of the wickets - struck on the backleg and then eventually, Praveen Kumar departed in the final over of the innings - caught by Ponting in the covers.
Nathan Bracken ended with figures of 3/28 for Australia, bringing them back into the contest. On a good wicket, 259 may not be a tough ask for Australia, but with early wickets India can put them under the pump.