Big total or not, Australia still unbeatable
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Big total or not, Australia still unbeatable

The target was less than expected, but when application was needed, no Indian batsman put his hand up.

india Updated: Nov 19, 2003 00:48 IST

Sourav Ganguly's groin strain was just one of the party-poopers at the Eden Gardens on Tuesday night. The sellout crowd here saw Sachin Tendulkar groping for runs and the much-vaunted Indian batting falter when it mattered most.

A target of 236 was perhaps lot less than what they expected when the TVS Cup final began. But when application was the need of the hour, no Indian batsman put his hand up.

In the end, India lost by 37 runs to keep alive the Eden tradition of whoever winning the toss winning the match. The TVS Cup will travel to Australia days before the Indians go Down Under for an arduous tour.

Be it the World Cup or the TVS Cup, it'll take a lot more than what India put up on show this night, to beat Ricky Ponting's all-conquering band.

The match ended a lot before Ian Harvey polished off the tail to finish with a four-wicket haul. It was over for India when skipper Rahul Dravid played-on one run short of what till then looked a polished effort.

At six for 169 in the 37th over and with the lower order suffering from an extended bout of batting blues, India were down and out for the count.

In a team studded with stupendous hitters of the cricket ball, it was young Michael Clarke who took the match away from India. A 28-ball 44 and his 65-run unfinished stand with Michael Bevan helped Australia reach 235 for five. Clarke also dismissed Dravid and Hemang Badani to ensure that India finished second-best in yet another final.

God knows when Tendulkar last made five runs in the first 10 overs, or 14 off the first 15. He did accelerate once Ian Harvey and Andy Bichel came on, but on this night Tendulkar was like a maestro gone tone-deaf.

And just when it seemed he was finally hitting the right notes (read: two successive fours of Bichel), the little master played the wrong line and was bowled.

Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid added 63 for the third wicket but the bulk of it came between the 16th and the 22nd overs when Harvey and Bichel were operating.

After Ganguly failed the test, his bowlers cleared theirs with distinction. By the eighth over, Matthew Hayden had joined Adam Gilchrist in the pavilion and

Ricky Ponting, who came in at the fall of the first wicket, hadn't opened scoring. Laxman dropped four catches, two off Ricky Ponting and one each of Hayden and Michael Bevan. He redeemed himself somewhat by catching both but had he pouched a regulation offering from Ponting at first slip things could have been different.

Ponting and Martyn added 80 for the third wicket before Murali Kartik scalped the skipper, caught by Laxman two balls after he had let go off a much easier offering at first slip.

On a wicket aiding spinners Australia's weakness against the turning ball showed up again just like it did in that memorable Test here two years ago.

Martyn built the innings judiciously and scored 61 with five fours. But with Ponting and Symonds falling quickly the momentum was lost, at least for a while. Actually, they could never really fire on all cylinders.

Perhaps because Zaheer Khan had gone for plenty on at least two earlier occasions when he had opened the bowling against Australia, the onus fell on Ajit Agarkar this time around.

The Mumbaikar bowled with the ferocity that belied his frame. Agarkar's first ball in his third grazed Gilchrist's pad and uprooted his stumps.

One of the world's most feared batsmen has now become a hat-trick victim, bagged a pair and a seven in three innings at the Eden. But that, as they say, is cricket.


First Published: Nov 19, 2003 00:48 IST