India create history with first-ever tri-series triumph

India create history with first-ever tri-series triumph

Last Updated: Tue, Mar 04, 2008 13:17 hrs

Brisbane: India created history by notching up their first-ever cricket tri-series title on Australian soil by pipping the World Champions by nine runs in a nail-biting second final, which saw fortune fluctuating from one team to the other till the very end.

After scoring a competitive 258 for nine largely built around Sachin Tendulkar's majestic 91, the Indians held their nerves in the tense dying moments to stop the Australians at 249 with two balls to spare and wrap up the best-of-three finals with a 2-0 margin.

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It was a remarkable display by the Indians who not only conquered the mighty Australians in their own den but brought about a happy ending to a turbulent tour, marked by a racism row involving Harbhajan Singh and a series of on-field bickerings.

The Indians had entered the tri-series finals in 1986, 1992 and 2004 but had never managed to win a single match but made amends for their past failures with the thrilling win at the Gabba.

Paceman Irfan Pathan dismissed James Hopes in the very last over to bring India's moment of glory, triggering scenes of wild celebrations among the players as they hugged each other.

The Australians needed 13 runs off Pathan's last over who tilted the scale in India's favour by getting rid of Nathan Bracken and Hopes (63) whose lusty hits kept the home team in the hunt.

The young Praveen Kumar was the pick of the Indian bowlers by scalping four wickets for 46 runs in his ten overs while Sreesanth and Pathan chipped in with two wickets each.

Australia were hurt by loss of three early wickets and then the dismissals of Matthew Hayden (55) and Andrew Symonds (42) in one over in the middle. But the sixth-wicket pair of Mike Hussey (44) and James Hopes kept them clinging to their hopes till the very end with a 76-run stand.

Hussey departed in the 43rd over, caught behind off an inside edge off Sreesanth which was referred to the third umpire, and Australia were still short by 60 runs.

Brett Lee hit two consecutive fours off Praveen Kumar to bring the equation to 37 runs from the final five overs. He was bowled by the UP bowler in the same over and when Sreesanth claimed Mitchell Johnson (8), caught behind the wickets, the equation of 21 runs from 10 balls looked a tall order.

Hopes then hit a mighty six off the penultimate ball of the second last over to leave the equation with 13 runs required from the final over.

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The hosts were rocked by Praveen Kumar early in the innings when the UP medium-pacer picked up two wickets in his first two overs and later claimed Michael Clarke for 17 to reduce the hosts to 32 for 3 in the ninth over.

Gilchrist (2) edged a catch behind the stumps while Ponting's woes continued unabated as the Australian skipper pulled a catch to Yuvraj Singh at mid-on. Praveen also appeared to have got Clarke plumb in front of stumps but his appeal was over-ruled. He could not be denied his scalp for long though as he hit the stumps of Clarke when the latter aimed a pull off a short ball that never rose.

Hayden was let off early in his innings when he edged Sreesanth behind the stumps and Dhoni flung himself in front of Sachin Tendulkar who was perfectly poised to accept the chance.

The ball ricocheted off Dhoni’s gloves and hit Tendulkar on his left-shoulder which was a serious enough blow for the little master to leave the field and not return again during the Australian innings.

Hayden and Symonds finally got going and they raised the first 100 of the Australian innings in the 23rd over, about the same time Indians had done so earlier in the day.

Then the twist came - Symonds played Harbhajan on the offside and Hayden took off from the non-strikers end. As Hayden changed his mind and looked for the safety of non-striker's crease, Yuvraj's throw to bowler Harbhajan was precise and smart.

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Mike Hussey and James Hopes then took roots in the middle and kept the scoreboard ticking despite some superlative energy shown by the Indians in the middle.

Earlier, Tendulkar provided the foundation with a controlled 91 but the Indians lost the momentum towards the end as they lost six wickets for 53 runs in a their bid to accelerate the pace of scoring.

Tendulkar faced 121 balls and hit seven fours as he gauged the slowish pace of the Gabba pitch to perfection and provided the heart to the Indian response. He put on significant stands of 94 and 54 for the first and third wickets with Robin Uthappa (30) and Yuvraj Singh (38) respectively before being dismissed in the 40th over at the team total of 205 for 4.

Uthappa hit the first four of the innings by hoisting Brett Lee in front of square but then clearly played second fiddle to Tendulkar who, dropped once early in his innings, decided that it after all was going to be his day.

Tendulkar was let off by Ricky Ponting at short cover off Nathan Bracken when he was on seven and team total was 23 for no loss in the seventh over, and from then on made Australia pay for their lapse.

Before India raised their 100 in the 22nd over, Uthappa mistimed Stuart Clark to be caught at mid-off for 30, having batted for 49 balls and hit one four.

Gautam Gambhir (15) suffered his second successive failure when he hoisted Michael Clarke to widish long-on fielder but India didn't lose their momentum as Yuvraj Singh, the next man in, soon got into his stride.

Yuvraj began with a straight six off Clark and then lifted a full-toss from Lee over mid-off for a thunderous four. He then had a little battle going with Andrew Symonds whom he pulled for a four and a six in successive overs.

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