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World Cup final revisited: Australia on fire

Weighed down by a merciless Australian batting assault, India buckled under pressure of the huge total and could only manage 286/8.

india Updated: Nov 13, 2003 10:34 IST

India were simply chasing too many runs. They batted with aggression, though not always with discretion.

Looking at a target of 348, they were never in with a chance at the Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Wednesday night.

Sourav Ganguly returned to the fray, while Murali Karthik was preferred over Harbhajan Singh.

Ashish Nehra also made a predictable return. Sachin Tendulkar, as long as he stays on the pitch, is unstoppable, and no amount of controlled bowling can ever be enough to restrict him.

He played the dual role of trying to keep the run rate and opening partner Virender Sehwag going very well.

And till the time he was torpedoed by Ian Harvey off his pads, Tendulkar looked destined for another one-day hundred.

Sehwag played as if his feet were stuck in mud. He just stood and flayed at the ball and whatever runs came were out of shots of desperation rather than any defined aggression.

His dismay was evident as he tried to egg himself on and get something going.

Dropped twice off Michael Kasprowicz in the same over, Sehwag should consider whatever runs he got to be a bonus.

All the rest of the Indian batsmen fell in the quest of quick runs. Ganguly played with a lot of flourish for whatever time he was at the crease, and Michael Clarke got some serious punishment.

But even as the Indians got runs, they were always behind schedule. After 30 overs, they were scoring at 6.03 runs per over, but the asking rate then was 8.35.

It was always a losing battle. With 10 overs to go, the asking had gone up to 9.8 per over.

In the afternoon, it was sheer murder as Gilchrist and then Ponting blasted the Indian bowlers all over the park. But even amidst this massacre, Karthik came away with high marks.

Unfortunately the rest of the bowling neither had enough teeth nor enough assistance from the pitch.

Gilchrist was disdainful of the attack, as the Indian new ball pair of Nehra and Zaheer Khan could beat the bat only occasionally.

It was evident after just 15 overs that India were deep in trouble, the score then being 105 for no loss.

In this backdrop, Karthik's spell becomes that much more important. The Railways left-arm spinner is bent on making the most of whatever chances he gets, and it was no different here.

He came in to bowl the 18th over of the innings, and straightaway settled into a kind of line and length that made scoring difficult, quite an achievement considering that the ball was always coming into the two left-handers, Gilchrist and Hayden.

The Australian opening stand ultimately ended in the run-out of Matthew Hayden, bringing in the off-form Ponting to the crease.

The skipper was in trouble against Karthik immediately, two miscues going beyond Zaheer at mid-off.

But with the left-armer going great guns, Ganguly decided to take him off, rather a strange decision since Karthik was bowling with great rhythm.

Eight overs for 33 runs was a bargain under the circumstances, and Karthik was unlucky not to get Ponting on 25, when Rahul Dravid muffed an easy stumping opportunity.

By the time he returned to bowl his last two overs, Ponting was on fire.

Ponting batted himself back into form slowly, letting Gilchrist do the attacking.

The vice-captain finally departed, but the damage had been done by then, the total reading 198 for two in 33.4 overs.

Ponting went the aerial route, punishing all the bowlers without discrimination.

He rustled up 100 runs with Damien Martyn off just 67 balls and Australia reached 300 by the end of the 45th over.

He ended at 108 not out off 102 balls, with seven sixes and a four, while Martyn was almost slow — 61 off 50 balls with eight boundaries.

They added 149 runs for the unfinished third wicket stand, off just 98 balls.

Scorecard

First Published: Nov 12, 2003 14:18 IST