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Ishant helps bowl Australia out for 159


Melbourne : Generating unusual bounce, lanky Indian speedster Ishant Sharma turned in his career-best bowling performance to grab four wickets as world one-day champions Australia were skittled out for 159 in 43.1 overs in the Commonwealth Bank Triangular Series here Sunday.

Ishant, who has impressed all on this tour, could have ended with a six-wicket tally but for two dropped catches. He, nevertheless, ended the innings with the highly impressive 9.1-1-38-4 to earn warm applause from the packed Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Only five Australians could enter double-digit score, with Michael Hussey being the top scorer with an unbeaten 65 (88 balls, 4x4s). That the home side batsmen were unable to play the pace trio Ishant, Sreesanth (three wickets) and Irfan Pathan (two) was evident from the fact that the next highest score was 25 (21 balls, 5x4s), made by Matthew Hayden.

Another surprising aspect was that the best partnership of the innings did not come from a pair of specialist batsmen. Hussey and fast bowler Brett Lee (10, 35 balls) scored 53 for the seventh wicket off 13 overs at 4.07 runs per over.

The next best stand was between Hayden and captain Ricky Ponting (9), who raised 36 in just 4.5 overs at a fabulous 7.44 per over to threaten to take the game away from India in a hurry. But their partnership was too good to last long as Ishant drew left-handed Hayden out and forced him to edge the outgoing ball to wicketkeeper and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Ishant also disappointment coming his way as Robin Uthappa and Dhoni dropped catches off his bowling.

Uthappa at third slip seemed to have just touched the ball with his fingers as it flew off Hayden’s bat when he was yet to open his account. It was only the second over of the day and Australia were two for one wicket.

Nathan Bracken was also lucky to survive the Ishant fury when a diving Dhoni who tried at catch it with a single hand dropped his edge. The fast bowler was also on zero then.

Sreesanth and Pathan also bowled extremely well to keep a tight leash on the batsmen. Sreesanth opened the floodgates by winning the leg before-the-wicket verdict against Adam Gilchrist, and India never looked back after that.