Sunday, February 24, 2008

India Team's fight in vain against Aussies

Ricky Ponting's century was just enough for Australia to earn an 18-run victory over India in a high-scoring contest at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

The Australian skipper blasted back into form with a bang after a troubled summer as he hit 124 as Australia made an imposing total of 317 for seven in Sydney, helped by half-centuries from Andrew Symonds and Matthew Hayden.

Gautam Gambhir got his second hundred of the Commonwealth Bank Series to keep India in at as their top order crumbled, but a late rally led by Robin Uthappa nearly brought them back into the match.

Brett Lee took two crucial wickets in two balls late on though, and despite India making a record total for a team batting second at Sydney, their 299 all fell 18 runs short of the win.

After Adam Gilchrist went early for 16, Ponting and Hayden put on blistering 110 for the second wicket before the big opener was run out for 54 at the non-strikers end by Virender Sehwag.

Ponting was involved in another century partnership after Micael Clarke went for 38, with the skipper and Andrew Symonds piling on 102 for the fourth wicker as Symonds brought up his fifty in just 44 balls.

Symonds was bowled for 59 before Ponting went for 124 as Australia closed on a tally which proved too much for the tourists.

India needed a good start when chasing such a lofty total, but they got exactly the opposite when they tumbled to 51-4 when their top order failed miserably.

Gambhir was the exception and he combined with skipper MS Dhoni for a 98-run partnership that brought India back into the contest before Dhoni was caught behind off Lee for 36.

Gambhir's effort was eventually ended on 113 when Gilchrist stumped him off Brad Hogg, but he had done enough to give India a real chance of an unlikely victory after also adding 68 with Uthappa.

Irfan Pathan kept the score ticking along with a lively 22 and Uthappa brought up his fifty off 43 balls as Harbhajan Singh then offered some assistance at the other end.

India had a real chance when needing 28 runs to win from 15 balls, but just as it started to look tight Lee stepped in to end their chances with two wickets in two balls.

A slower ball deceived Harbhajan who lobbed the ball straight up in the air for Gilchrist to take his sixth wicket of the match, and Uthappa holed out to Hussey the very next ball as India then fell to 290 for nine.

Lee completed his five-for when her bowled Ishant Sharma and he finished of figures with five for 58 as Australia won an enthralling match by just 18 runs after India's brave run chase came so close to an historic victory.

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