Thursday, November 5, 2009

Aussies hold nerve to win thriller

A magnificent 175 from Sachin Tendulkar overshadowed a maiden century from Shaun Marsh, but it was Australia who came out triumphant by three runs in the fifth one-day international against India in Hyderabad.

Marsh was twice dropped but made the most of those reprieves as he powered to 112, while opening partner Shane Watson (93), Cameron White (57) and Ricky Ponting (45) all made substantial contributions to power Australia to a massive 350 for four.

Tendulkar replied in style and, aided brilliantly by Suresh Raina (59), brought India within sniffing distance of victory, but Australia kept their heads as India were bowled out for 347 with three deliveries to spare.

The win gave Australia a 3-2 lead in the seven-match series.

The visitors began well, with Watson getting them off to a flyer as he smashed the new-ball bowlers around.

He blasted first-change bowler Munaf Patel for a four and a six in his second over to quickly close in on a half-century and clobbered Ashish Nehra for another four and six to reach the milestone off just 40 deliveries.

Watson motored along nicely once past the 50 mark, completely dominating an opening stand with Marsh worth 145.

Australia's free scoring was finally curbed with the introduction of Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj Singh, the two bowling accurately in tandem and asserting a degree of control.

But a ragged performance from India in the field stalled the breakthrough as Marsh, who had begun unconvincingly, was dropped on 29 by Mahendra Singh Dhoni off Harbhajan, the wicketkeeper failing to grasp a top-edge chance.

Watson was dropped by Yuvraj off his own bowling on 90, but did not last long thereafter as he fell short of a century, slog-sweeping Harbhajan straight to Ravindra Jadeja at deep midwicket.

Marsh was again reprieved just after reaching his half-century with Virender Sehwag making a mess of a fairly straightforward chance at cover.

Ponting was then bowled by Praveen Kumar, but Marsh began to score fluently from then on - his second 50 came off just 41 deliveries - and celebrated exuberantly once he reached his century.

He fell while trying to up the scoring, but White and Michael Hussey (31 not out) provided the flourish at the death.

White was snared off the last ball, but the Victorian had done the damage, putting on 80 off just 43 deliveries for the fourth wicket with Hussey.

India's reply began in usual sprightly fashion with Sehwag providing the initial thrust.

The opener had clubbed 38 off 30 deliveries when Doug Bollinger, who had grassed him earlier when the batsman was on 21, held a splendid catch running back from short fine-leg to send back the opener.

Debutant seamer Clint McKay then struck vital blows in the top order, sending back Gautam Gambhir and Dhoni cheaply, while Yuvraj was snaffled by Watson as the home side slipped to 162 for four.

Tendulkar, who had needed seven runs at the start of the innings to reach 17,000 in ODIs, was tentative at first, but once he passed that milestone he opened up to play another superb innings.

Tendulkar was joined by Raina, the left-hander providing excellent support as the match swung India's way under their charge.

Tendulkar, who had smashed Nathan Hauritz for consecutive sixes in an over, reached his 45th ODI century off just 81 deliveries and continued to flay the bowlers around as India closed in on the target.

Australia too were far from flawless in the field, White spilling Raina while the batsman was on zero proving costly.

Raina went on to add 137 for the fifth wicket with Tendulkar, reaching his 12th ODI half-century with a towering six of McKay.

The match turned again with Watson snaring the left-hander and his replacement, the feisty Harbhajan, in the same over.

India had needed 52 from 45 deliveries at the dismissal of Raina, but Jadeja (23) kept the chase on course until he lost Tendulkar, McKay's third victim.

India then unravelled with Jadeja run out and Nehra going quickly.

Eight were needed from the last over, but Praveen Kumar was run out while attempting a second run, the wicket handing Australia victory.

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