Chasing record, India choke at the death
The Indian and Australian players shrugged off the lingering hangover of an enthralling Test series to produce a thrilling opening match in the VB series. In the end the Australians held their nerve and with Andrew Symonds and Michael Clarke starring in all departments, they put an end to any Indian thoughts of a record run chase.Updated: Jan 10, 2004 02:55 IST
The Indian and Australian players shrugged off the lingering hangover of an enthralling Test series to produce a thrilling opening match in the VB series. In the end the Australians held their nerve and with Andrew Symonds and Michael Clarke starring in all departments, they put an end to any Indian thoughts of a record run chase.
With Steve Waugh now retired, Clarke chose the perfect moment to put in his bid for the vacant Test berth. Quick on his feet and extremely confident Clarke was first on to the backfoot to pull a slightly short Anil Kumble delivery for six, and then down the pitch driving through the covers.
He is a classy player and makes a perfect fit in this ultra-aggressive Australian batting line-up.
He teamed up with the powerful Symonds to produce a crucial century partnership following the loss of four quick wickets.
Ajit Agarkar was the architect of this early Australian collapse with a combination of smart bowling and brilliant catching.
Having got rid of both the openers via brilliant catches, Agarkar then out-thought Damien Martyn by banging in a short ball first up and having his top edge hook caught at fine leg. It was then that Symonds found an ally in Clarke and the strong-arm Queenslander, utilising his bottom hand grip successfully, cleared the boundary on three occasions.
With all the batsmen going on the attack it made for an interesting contest when Agarkar came back for a second spell. The spindly seamer again came out on top to finish with the best-ever figures by and Indian against Australia in a One Day international.
India produced a measured response featuring a century opening partnership which Sachin Tendulkar dominated. The bulk of the early boundaries came from slashing cuts as the Australians couldn't control the swinging new ball and Tendulkar launched himself at the wide deliveries.
He even resorted to playing the horizontal bat shots which he'd eschewed during the Test series and one top-edged hook shot cleared the sightboard for six.
Following Tendulkar's dismissal Sourav Ganguly played with a mixture of calm assurance and calculated aggression.
He found a willing partner in Yuvraj Singh who kept a cool head and chose the right moments to unleash his power.
Then, just when it looked like India was cruising to the highest ever chase at the MCG, Clarke took a good catch to get rid of Yuvraj and then Ganguly was run out and Australia rode the momentum like a wave on Bondi beach.
First Published: Jan 10, 2004 00:22 IST