Just as the spider camera swooped around Stadium Australia to capture footages of the crowds gravitating towards the exit gates,Mahendra Singh Dhoni took off his gloves in the middle,and called for a new bat. At that point,India needed 44 from eight balls. Although not too many of the close to 60,000 spectators stayed behind to believe it was possible,Dhoni wanted to give himself the best possible chance of finding the visitors its first win on this tour.
The shining new willow was delivered to Dhoni,and the match resumed with Brett Lee steaming in. The Aussie pacer bent his aging spine and dug it in short,while Dhoni pivoted around his hip and threw the bat at it. Quite literally. As the orange-gripped chunk of wood found wings to fly past a cowering square-leg fielder,Dhoni looked at his slippery palms.
The moment was symbolic. Just like that bat change,Dhoni was armed with plenty of new faces to the squad to put behind the horrors of the last five weeks. But quite like the slip,even the injection of youth couldnt manage to get a grip on the rapidly spiralling situation. Chasing 172 in damp conditions,India lost by 31 runs.
In Suresh Raina,Ravindra Jadeja,Praveen Kumar and the two Sharmas Rohit and Rahul Team India witnessed five sets of fresh legs for the first T20 against Australia at Sydneys Olympic Park. But on the soil that Cathy Freeman once famously ran her way to her dreams,the Indian ones continued to live a jaded nightmare. Rohits much awaited appearance on this tour ended in a duck,while Raina conjured just 7. Praveen went at 11.33 in his three overs,while Jadeja at 11.5 in two.
The real fault and blame,however,lay with those who had been a part of the losing campaign in the Test series. Virender Sehwag refused to learn from his mistakes and was dismissed with a leading edge in the first over of the reply,while the mauling Ravichandran Ashwin took from David Warner in Perth continued to echo through Olympic Park on Wednesday,setting the tone for the Australia innings in just the third over of the match.
Having kept Warner silent in the first over of the match,Dhoni decided to continue with the offie. The repercussions of the 19-run third over bowled by the off-spinner rang right until the end of the game. By the third ball off Ashwins second,Warner turned right-hander,turned his leg-stump into his off and reverse hoicked the ball into the short straight stands for the most incredible six of the game. The very next ball,Warner whipped Ashwins low full-toss,a carrom ball gone wrong,past point for four.
Warner sets the tone
Ashwin tried everything different with his style,like jerking at the crease on the fifth ball. But Warner walloped that into the sight screen to make it 16 in three balls. Although Warner was out in the very next over,splicing Vinay Kumars loosener down Rainas grasp at extra cover,his courage on a dicey pitch was contagious enough to make fellow opener Matthew Wade a confident lad.
Along with Travis Birt,Wade carried Australia to 79 by the half way mark. Birt fell for 17 following a 15-minute rain break,but Wade and David Hussey moved on from the hiccup quite flawlessly. Wade,in particular,put the pressure on both the Indians and Test keeper Brad Haddins spot with a flawless 72,powering Australia to 171.
Hussey caught a sharp leading edge off Sehwags blade to put an end to his stay for just four. Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli stabilised the innings until half way through the fifth over,taking the score to 47,but captain George Bailey was impressive with his bowling changes.
With Gambhir cutting,poking and nudging the pacers through square with ease,Bailey brought on his spinners. Hussey was of course far slower than the pacers,and the lack of speed witnessed Gambhir cutting straight into Mitchell Marshs hands at a square gully position. Brad Hogg,the 40-year old returnee,forced Kohli to play across the line next over,and he was caught in the deep for 22 by Warner. With Rohit being bowled next ball for a golden duck at 53/4,the resistance ended. Unfortunately,the match carried on in its misery.