Shane Watson made a triumphant return by captaining Australia to an emphatic 87-run victory over India yesterday and ensuring the hosts a place in the final of the one-day international tri-series.
Watson, who last played for his country in South Africa in November last year, before being sidelined by injury, stood in for injured skipper Michael Clarke and took two wickets for nine runs as his team bowled out India for 165 in reply to Australia’s 252-9.
India now need a bonus-point victory over Sri Lanka in Hobart tomorrow and to rely on Australia beating their sub-continental rivals in Melbourne on Friday to have any hope of progressing to the best-of-three final.
After Watson’s batting return had ended with just a single run, David Warner scored his first half-century of the year in limited overs cricket, wicketkeeper Matt Wade hit 56 and David Hussey a controversial 54 to fire Australia’s innings.
Hussey was on 17 and running for a single when he put out his hand to block fielder Suresh Raina’s throw to the stumps. India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni appealed for an “obstructing the field” dismissal, but umpire Billy Bowden turned him down after a long consultation with the third umpire, deciding that the batsman was protecting himself from injury.
Warner was dispatched by left-armer Ravindra Jadeja for 68, but even in taking his wicket India suffered, Raina taking a superb catch, but clattering into Irfan Pathan as he did so and leaving his teammate only able to bowl five overs.
Dhoni, who once again had to deny rumors of rifts this week, allowed Virender Sehwag nine overs with the ball and was rewarded with three wickets for 43 from the veteran as India slowed Australia’s run rate in the last 10 overs of the innings.
Sachin Tendulkar was cheered on to the field by the 33,639 crowd as he marched out to open the India innings and continue his quest for his 100th international century.
The batting maestro had made just 14 runs, though, when he was run out, waving his arms in frustration at Brett Lee, who had unintentionally blocked his path to the crease.
By that stage Sehwag had already departed for 5, and when Virat Kohli (21) and Gautam Gambhir (23) were dismissed in successive overs, India were struggling at 83-4.
Watson, who had Kohli caught by Dan Christian at midwicket in his first full over, then removed Raina caught behind for 8 to drive home the advantage.
Dhoni, returning after a one-match ban because of a slow over rate, battled for 49 balls to give his country a captain’s innings, but when he was trapped leg before by Ben Hilfenhaus he had just 14 runs on the board.
The end game was afoot and although Irfan (22) and Ravi Ashwin (26) wagged the tail a bit, the large Indian contingent in the crowd had long gone quiet when Xavier Doherty bowled Praveen Kumar to end another miserable night in Australia for the tourists.
PAKISTAN V ENGLAND
AFP, DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Jonny Bairstow hit a maiden half-century and paceman Steven Finn took three wickets to guide England to a comfortable 38-run win in the second Twenty20 international against Pakistan on Saturday.
Bairstow’s 60 off 46 balls, studded with two sixes and five fours, helped England recover from a precarious 79-4 to post a challenging 150-7, before Finn claimed 3-30 to bowl Pakistan out for 112 in 18.2 overs at Dubai Stadium.