Australia Thwarts Yuvraj

A scintillating 121 from Yuvraj Singh was not enough to get India home against Australia in the third ODI at Hyderabad today.

After winnning the toss and batting, Australia compiled a challenging 290 for seven before resticting India to 243 all out in 47.4 overs.

It seemed that the match would be one way traffic by the time Australia reduced India to 13 for three inside the fifth over, but a fighting stand of 95 between Sachin Tendulkar and Yuvraj got India back into the game. Sadly for the hosts, Tendulkar (43) was bowled by Brad Hogg just as he and Yuvraj had begun to really accelerate the scoring.

Despite the loss of the master, Yuvraj continued on his merry way. Having dominated his partnership with Tendulkar, he barely lost stride once joined by skipper MS Dhoni (33) as the two briskly took the score to 173 before Dhoni was caught behind from the bowling of the excellent Brett Lee for 33. From this point the match was effectively over despite some late resistance by Harbajan Singh, who compiled a breezy 19 from 22 delieveries in the face of more consistent seam bowling from Lee (3 for 37), Mitchell Johnson (2 for 51) and Stuart Clark (1 for 44). Significantly, all rounder James Hopes also contributed well, mixing his pace to bowl his 10 overs tidily and take one for 43.

Despite the patchy form of his teammates, of whom only three others made double figures, Yuvraj was undoubtedly the star of the show today. He continued on with his wonderful Twenty20 World Cup form, and it was impossible to tell from the way he played that India had its back against the wall. Initially, Yuvraj targeted Brad Hogg, but really no bowler was spared today as he unleashed some breath-taking cover drives and imperious pull shots on his way to a well-deserved hundred which was laced with 12 fours and three sixes. It was a pity for the game and series that he did not receive better support from more of his team-mates.

Earlier, Andrew Symonds had carved 89 from 67 balls as Australia made an evenly paced 290 from its 50 overs. Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden got the Aussies off to a flier before the former was bowled by Irfan Pathan for 29 with the score at 76. From here, India’s bowlers tightened the run rate through variations in length and pace which saw the run rate fall to five per over during the middle overs. When returning captain Ricky Ponting fell for 25 with the score at 135 for three in the 29th over, it looked as though India might restrict Australia to around 260 or 270 if they could pick up a couple more quick wickets.

Unfortunately for the hosts it was not to be, as Michael Clarke (59 from 71) combined with Symonds to add 123 before Clarke holed out to long on in the dying overs. With Symonds batting until the second last ball of the innings, Australia was able to accumulate rather than brutalise a game Indian attack in the last seven overs. After 43 overs it appeared that the Aussies were heading to their third successive 300 plus total, only to be denied by some tidy bowling from Sreesanth (2 for 58), Zaheer Khan (2 for 61) and Irfan Pathan (2 for 57). Encouragingly for India, Harbajan Singh returned to something approaching his economical best in taking none for 38 from his ten overs, and was unlucky not to pick up both Symonds and Clarke at different stages through the middle overs.

Despite the undeniable brilliance of Yuvraj, this match was won by the team which had the most even performers across the park. As noted earlier, only four Indian batsmen including Yuvraj made double figures, compared with every Australian batsman except Hodge and Hopes, both of whom perished in the final overs while throwing their wickets away in the quest for quick runs. At the end of the day, it was the differnece in support given to Symonds compared with that provided to Yuvraj which was the difference between the two sides today.

Australia 290 for 7 (50 overs)
Symonds 89(67)
India 243 for 10 (47.4 overs)
Yuvraj 121
by 47 runs
Australia lead best of seven series 2-0
CW Man of the Match: Yuvraj Singh.

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