Australian brilliance overshadows Yuvraj ton


yuvrajIt wasn’t a one-sided drubbing like the Kochi game, but the Australians won all the key moments in the contest to sweep to a 47-run win in Hyderabad. The visitors now have a 2-0 lead after three games of the seven-match series. Following a coruscating 67-ball 89 by Andrew Symonds which powered them to 290, Australia survived an equally brilliant 121 by Yuvraj Singh and restricted the Indian run-chase to 243.

In a series so far punctuated by verbal skirmishes, this match was surprisingly incident-free, but the cricket was often scintillating. First Symonds provided the sparkle with a stunning assault on the bowlers, scoring 66 from his last 35 balls and combining in a 123-run fourth-wicket stand with Michael Clarke (59) - a record for the wicket for Australia versus India. When India lost three early wickets to slump to 13 for 3 within five overs, it seemed like another pasting was in store, but Yuvraj, who had been in glorious form in the ICC World Twenty20, carried on from where he had left off in South Africa.

With three top batsmen - including Rahul Dravid - already back in the hutch, Yuvraj’s start was understandably slow. He added 95 in 20 overs with Sachin Tendulkar. And though Tendulkar was mostly circumspect, he unveiled a couple of glorious drives down the ground before falling against the run of play seven short of his half-century.

Yuvraj, though, was unstoppable. He started off by targeting Brad Hogg, dancing down the pitch, slog-sweeping and cover-driving fours, and pulling one fractionally short high into the stands for six. Completely assured in footwork and shot-selection, he made room to carve boundaries to the off side, or moved across to pull to leg, all with consummate ease. With Mahendra Singh Dhoni matching him in aggression, the pair gave India a real shot at victory.

Australia, though, were not to be denied. Brett Lee, who had bowled with much fire to nail two early blows, struck again in his first over of a new spell. After being clubbed over his head for four by Dhoni, Lee shortened his length and forced an edge caught easily by Adam Gilchrist. The contest was effectively over.

Yuvraj still had a few individual battles to win, however. Stuart Clark, who had suffered at his hands in the World Twenty20, was at the receiving end here too, being creamed over extra-cover for six and then driven through the same area for four more in successive balls. Mitchell Johnson, who bowled with pace, swing and accuracy in yet another thoroughly impressive performance, ended the fun with a scorching yorker that swung in and plucked out middle stump. It was a worthy delivery to end a worthy knock, and the rest was a mere formality.

It was a day to savour for the No. 5 batsmen of either side. Symonds came in to bat after India had undone much of the damage they had suffered early in the innings with a tight spell by the slower bowlers. The opening partnership between Matthew Hayden and Gilchrist yielded a frenetic 76 in less than 14 overs, but thereafter, with the pitch losing pace and the bowling getting more accurate, only 35 came in a 12-over period in which Ricky Ponting - back in the team at the expense of the luckless Brad Haddin, and leading Australia for the 150th time in ODIs - struggled to come to terms with the slow surface.

After 30 overs Australia only had 140 on the board, with Harbhajan Singh especially outstanding with his accuracy and control over length. However, Symonds and Clarke had spent that time usefully, nudging the singles and familiarising themselves with the pace of the pitch. When the time came for the assault, both batsmen - especially Symonds - were ready, and the results were spectacular.

Two thick edges by Clarke off Irfan Pathan were the early signs, before Symonds stamped his authority on the game. Pathan’s change of pace had troubled some of the batsmen earlier, but Symonds was quick to spot it and deposit a pull over long-on; Yuvraj, so niggardly in his first spell, then felt the heat in the 44th, as Symonds slapped a six over long-on, another over midwicket, and then pulled fours off successive deliveries. The timing, which had been a problem early on, was suddenly silken, and the runs came in a deluge - 83 in the last ten, and 150 in the last 20. Yuvraj tried his best to neutralise the damage later in the afternoon, but one man’s brilliance wasn’t enough to stop the sustained excellence of an entire team.

Source:Cricket News

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