Rohit, Dhoni take India home

Breaking a 22-year-old jinx, India beat Australia for the first time at the MCG since 1986. Ishant Sharma is man of the match.

updated: February 16, 2008 19:16 IST
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The Sharmas came good to help India to their first win over Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground since 1986.

First, it was the pace of Ishant Sharma that undid Australia. Ishant (4-37) registered his career-best figures and with Sreesanth's support act (3-31) bundled out the hosts for 159 in under 44 overs in this fifth game of the CB Series.

Later, Rohit Sharma kept the faith posed in him. His unbeaten 39 was hard-fought and scored when the chips were down, and with the Australian pace foursome giving no quarters. Along with captain MS Dhoni, he added 58 runs to take India home on a pitch that was assisting seam movement.

India were in trouble around the 25th over, thanks to a mixture of injudicious stroke-play and incisive Australian bowling. Tendulkar had just departed after a soothing 44, Gambhir's technique was inadequate against a nasty Brett Lee lifter and Yuvraj perished to the demons in his head.

Rohit and Dhoni survived some rough overs from Lee, Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Bracken and company. They then feasted on the part-time fare of Andrew Symonds and Michael Clarke to finish off the game.

Ishant, Sreesanth run through Australia

Ishant hadn't had many wickets to show for his hard work on this tour. Sunday was different. After an expensive start, he got Matt Hayden to edge one to slip. From there on, India prevailed.

That was after Australia had elected to bat and Adam Gilchrist had been done in in the game's first over - LBW to Sreesanth when he had got a huge edge on the ball. Umpire Rudi Koertzen, staying true to the umpiring standards this Australian summer, gave it out.

Gilchrist walked back. Exemplarily, there was no shake of the head, or a glare back at the umpire.

Ponting's horror run continued - he edged Ishant to slip, much like in Perth, after scoring 9.

Andrew Symonds (14) didn't last long either. He edged one to Dhoni off Ishant. This time there would be no gifts from the umpire.

Dhoni would be mighty pleased with his contribution: 17 tough runs, four catches and a stumping. Not to forget he has now led India to the top of the points table with this win. India are on 8 points, one ahead of Australia, while Sri Lanka are on 2.

Michael Hussey was Australia's top-scorer, delivering right when they needed him to. His unbeaten 65 (88 balls, 4x4s) - the match's highest score - gave his team a fig leaf of a score.

Only if Australia had played out their 50 overs with a lower-order batsman sticking it out with Hussey, the outcome of this match could have been different.

India's batting woes continue

In the end, it was as comprehensive a win as any against the world champions. But for India, pertinent questions about their batsmen's form remain.

Virender Sehwag came out, hoping to score those 160 in two overs. In the process, he played and missed three times in the innings' first over by Lee, while edging one past slip for four.

He didn't last long, his six-or-out innings terminated by a sharp Bracken in-cutter, much like in their previous encounter.

Tendulkar, on the other hand, was easy on the eyes. Replays suggested Tendulkar had benefitted from a Koertzen error - a caught-behind appeal turned down.

But apart from that one blemish, his strokes were smooth, none smoother than the three drives in a Brett Lee over that would have had even his hardest critics sighing. One went through cover, and two down the ground on either side of the wicket.

Irfan Pathan's promotion ahead of the in-form Gambhir remained a mystery. Pathan didn't waste anybody's time. He got in, scored 18 quickly and got out.

Gambhir batted purposefully, twice running all four with Tendulkar. But he was done in by pace and bounce by Lee, whose summer just keeps getting better each passing day.

Yuvraj's lack of form is a concern, not because he's not getting runs - he soon should - but because he looks like he is not even trying to get runs. And that is unlike him.

On Sunday, Yuvraj looked totally out of place against the pace bowlers. A loose shot to cover put him out of his misery. He now has 2 & 3 in the CB Series to go with the 0, 5, 12 and 0 in the Tests.