Indians steam home at sweltering Brisbane
India won the battle of the bat in Brisbane ironically because their young bowlers held their nerve in a desperate finish. The batsmen of both sides dominated until the final overs when the impressive young duo of Lakshmipathy Balaji and Irfan Pathan bowled brilliantly to hold in check Michael Bevan, Australia's renowned terminator.Updated: Jan 19, 2004 00:29 IST
India won the battle of the bat in Brisbane ironically because their young bowlers held their nerve in a desperate finish. The batsmen of both sides dominated until the final overs when the impressive young duo of Lakshmipathy Balaji and Irfan Pathan bowled brilliantly to hold in check Michael Bevan, Australia's renowned terminator.
However, in the heat of the day it was the Indian batsmen led by VVS Laxman who set the path for victory. Laxman may not be comfortable lofting the ball but he is at home facing Australia's bowling. He scored his third ODI hundred from the final ball of the innings when he lofted Ian Harvey over the in-field. All his three centuries have come against Australia.
The key to India passing three hundred for the first time in a ODI in Australia was yet another great partnership between Laxman and Rahul Dravid.
For a while during this liaison, Laxman looked uncomfortable as he backed away from the stumps and attempted to loft the ball over the field with little success. But at the other end his partner kept the scoreboard ticking along with deft placements designed to guarantee singles and occasionally produce two runs.
This pair provided the ideal follow-up to the earlier century partnership posted by Sachin Tendulkar and Laxman. This came easily despite an injury to Tendulkar who twisted his ankle while starting off for a run and then proceeded to hit a lot of boundaries in order to lessen the damage to his right foot. The man who suffered most during this early onslaught was Brett Lee who currently looks like a bowler running up hoping the ball will land somewhere near the target area rather than knowing where it will pitch. He's extremely low on confidence at the moment.
At the opposite end of the spectrum is Matthew Hayden, a man very much at the peak of his game, and so confident he's prepared to advance on the pace bowlers early in his innings. Hayden answered Laxman's innings, also making his third ODI century, but where the Indian relies mostly on graceful timing the powerful Australian tends to utilise brute strength.
It was following that century that Balaji made his only mistake when he dropped Hayden on the boundary. Nevertheless, his young team mate Pathan immediately picked him up by dismissing Hayden and in a great show of spirit he reacted with great enthusiasm to spur the Indian side to great heights.
This was not the last contribution this pair made in the victory and rest assured they will continue to assist this fast-improving Indian side.
First Published: Jan 19, 2004 00:29 IST