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Not the way champs play

World champions go down in the tri-series opener against Australia by 65 runs in a rain-truncated match. Amol Karhadkar reports. Scorecard
By Amol Karhadkar | Hindustan Times, Melbourne
UPDATED ON FEB 05, 2012 11:54 PM IST

After Rahul Sharma bowled the first two balls of the last over in Australian innings, the on-field umpires realised they had erred by allowing the leggie to start his seventh over.


With the three-hour rain break curtailing the CB Series opener to a 32-over-a-side match, only two India bowlers could have bowled seven overs. Praveen Kumar and Vinay Kumar had already done that.

But asking the tall spinner to bowl the last over wasn't the only miscalculation by India skipper MS Dhoni at the MCG on Sunday. A plethora of errors of judgement followed and aided by as many mistakes from the bowlers and batsmen, India went down to Australia by 65 runs.

Despite overcast conditions, India chose not to field three seam bowlers. Not fiddling around with the bowling attack that played a pivotal role in India's T20 win two nights ago at this venue is fine, but you have to take the conditions into consideration.

Then, except for Rahul Sharma, the rest of the spinners - R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja - bowled miserable spells. Ashwin, despite being in Australia for a good seven weeks, is still in search of the correct length. As a result, the off-spinner bowled too many long hops, which debutant Matthew Wade - Man of the Match with a sterling performance - and the Hussey brothers made full use of.

Jadeja seemed to have taken a cue from Ashwin and couldn't deal with the assault on him. As a result, the last four balls that he bowled went for 17 runs, taking his bowling analysis (2.4-0-41-0) from worse to worst.

After three strong knocks helped Australia recover from a precarious 35 for two in 11 overs, at the time of rain interruption, to a daunting 216 for five, the Indian batsmen failed to put up any resistance.

Never once did the famed batting line-up looked to make a match of it. Sachin Tendulkar and Gautam Gambhir perished in quick succession at the beginning. Though Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma put on 51 runs for the third wicket, they didn't look comfortable at all against the Australia pace troika.

As a result, it didn't come as a surprise when both the youngsters fell in quick succession.

And the writing was clearly on the wall soon after when Suresh Raina failed to deal with a short ball for the umpteenth time in his career.

The only positive for India from a disastrous opening game seemed to be R Vinay Kumar's opening spell. Not only did he dismiss David Warner and Ponting but the newest member of the million dollar club also bowled a nagging line.

But once play resumed after the rain intervention, Vinay had only one over left. Australia grabbed the chance and piled on 182 runs off their last 21 overs to snatch the game away from India.

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