India set Australia target of 259 in second final


Brisbane : Sachin Tendulkar scored a sizzling 91 before Australia struck back with crucial blows to rip-off the middle order and halt India at 258 for nine in the second of the best-of-three final of the Commonwealth Bank tri-series here Tuesday.

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Riding on the back of a century at the Sydney Cricket Ground, Tendulkar carried his excellent form and looked set for his 43rd ton but his bad luck in the 90s came back to haunt him and with him went India’s chances of setting Australia a really tough target.

Robin Uthappa scored a valuable 30 and gave India a solid start of 94 runs along with Tendulkar. Yuvraj SIngh made a quick-fire 38 off 38 balls that included two mighty sixes, while skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni chipped in with 36 off 37 deliveries.

But just when India were going great guns at three for 175 and looking to finish off their good work, Australia struck blow after blow in the late over to snatch back the advantage and restrict India, giving themselves a chance to level the tri-series.

Michael Clarke (3 for 52) got the wickets of Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir (15) and Rohit Sharma while Nathan Bracken (3-31) removed Dhoni. Andrew Symonds got rid of the dangerous Yuvraj.

Electing to bat, India were off to a cautious start as 37 runs came in the first 10 overs, but once the 50-run mark was crossed in 12.3 overs off 79 balls, Tendulkar cut loose, hitting some delectable shots around the park.

Tendulkar, who got a life on 7 when Ricky Ponting dropped a difficult catch at short cover, hit seven boundaries in his 121-ball knock. Tendulkar’s 50 came in 70 balls which included five boundaries.

Uthappa was the first batsmen to go as he was caught at mid-off by James Hopes off Stuart Clark. Gambhir (15), who has been in terrific form in the series, started attacking a bit too early as he came down the track to hit Clarke but was pouched by Mitchell Johnson at long-on. India were 121 for two at that stage.

Yuvraj walked in and made his intention known in the very second ball he faced from Clarke with a six down the long-on fence. He hit Symonds for another six in the 34th over but Symonds had the last laugh.

Yuvraj tried to hit another six off Symonds but could not connect properly and gave a catch to Hayden at the mid-wicket fence. Yuvraj’s 38 included two boundaries and two sixes.

Tendulkar fell to a soft dismissal when he came down the track and popped a catch to skipper Ricky Ponting at mid-on. India were at 204 for three in 39 overs at that stage but lost some quick wickets that dried up the runs in the last 10 overs.

Despite Mahendra Singh Dhoni 36 (37, 2x4s, 1×6) trying to increase the run rate, wickets tumbled at the other end as Australia sniffed a chance to restrict the visitors to a relatively modest score.