Australia go one-up in VB series finals against India
A vintage innings from Ponting (88) helped Australia draw first blood.Full Scorecard: India vs Australiaindia Updated: Feb 06, 2004 17:08 IST
A vintage innings from skipper Ricky Ponting helped Australia draw first blood in the tri-series one-day international finals with a comfortable seven-wicket win against India on Friday.
The Australians never looked like losing after first opener Adam Gilchrist, who blazed 38 off 20 balls, then Ponting, set them well on the road to overhauling India's total of 222.
In the end they lost just three wickets for 224 runs with 59 balls to spare.
India's final tally was surprisingly flattering after their top-gun batsmen again foundered against Australia's pace attack to be 75 for six in the 22nd over.
Only a determined stand totalling 102 by late-order batsmen Ajit Agarkar and Hemang Badani gave the score any respectability.
For Ponting, his 88 off 80 balls was the innings he had been threatening to produce all summer. He had made 223 runs at an average of 31.85 in the preliminary rounds of the triangular-series, passing 50 only once.
Australia has now beaten India in eight of their nine meetings in one-day tournament finals, the most famous of which was last year's World Cup decider.
Opener Matthew Hayden filled the unfamiliar role of sheet anchor to both Gilchrist and Ponting with 50 from 91 balls, before being the victim of an unusual caught and bowled decision.
He hit what initially appeared to to be a bump ball back to Lakshmipathy Balaji, prompting only a muted appeal from the bowler.
Umpire Steve Bucknor referred the decision to third umpire Bob Parry, who gave Hayden out after close scrutiny of the slow motion replays, ending a 139-run partnership with his captain.
Ponting became Balaji's third victim shortly afterwards, edging to wicketkeeper Rahul Dravid before chastising himself most of the way back to the changing rooms for getting out when a 16th one-day hundred was beckoning.
Out-of-form batsman Damien Martyn who finished not out 20 and Andrew Symonds on 10 not out reached the target with a minimum of fuss.
Even such a short innings would have been a relief for Martyn, who had made only three runs in his four previous knocks against India.
Earlier in the day Agarkar and Badani joined forces in the middle in the 22nd over with the Indians reeling at 75 for six and the pair put on 102 in 119 balls for the seventh wicket.
Agarkar famously made seven successive Test ducks against Australia between 1999 and 2001, although he does have a Test century to his credit against England at Lord's two years ago.
He was dropped twice on seven and 41, but rode his luck in an entertaining 62-ball innings which included two sixes in successive overs from Symonds and Ian Harvey. He was eventually dismissed for 53, top-edging Michael Clarke to Brett Lee at backward point.
Badani made a one-day century against Australia three years ago in Pune, but has struggled for opportunities with the bat during the series.
But he stepped up when it mattered, top-scoring with an unbeaten 60.
The problem rested with India's vaunted top six, who could only muster 74 runs between them.
A rejuvenated Lee, Harvey and Jason Gillespie claimed two wickets apiece for Australia, while Clarke added the near-identical run outs of Irfan Pathan and Anil Kumble to his vital dismissal of Agarkar.
The second final in the best-of-three series is at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Sunday.
First Published: Feb 06, 2004 09:05 IST