Sydney: Australia reinforced their status as world champions with a crushing 208-run victory over India to win the tri-series on Sunday.
After posting a record 359 for five, Australia shot out India for 151 in 33.2 overs in the second final to extend the domination over their sub-continent rivals. They had won the first final in Melbourne by seven wickets on Friday.
Matthew Hayden set the platform with his fourth ODI hundred, 126 from 122 balls, before Andrew Symonds launched a ferocious assault towards the end with a 39-ball 66. Damien Martyn too rediscovered form to make a stylish 67 from 76 balls.
The Indian chase was virtually over by the 15th over as they lost five wickets in that period. It was Australia’s third successive title triumph over Sourav Ganguly’s team following wins in the World Cup final and the tri-series final in Calcutta last year.
The Australian total was the highest-ever Down Under and it was also identical to the one they had posted against India in the World Cup final in South Africa.
Australia, tested seriously by the Indians this summer, proved they were big match players beyond doubt. The batsmen showed the kind of form that has helped them gain a stranglehold over the rest in recent years, while the new-ball bowlers fired on all cylinders to destroy a strong batting line-up.
From the moment Ricky Ponting won the toss, it was going to be difficult for India. Adam Gilchrist set the tone with a quickfire 29 that came from 32 balls before being caught by Sourav off Ashish Nehra.
Hayden then took control and pulverised the young Indian bowlers with his cavalier batting. India sniffed a bit of a chance by dismissing Ponting soon after Gilchrist, but Hayden and Martyn added 157 in under 27 overs for the third wicket that took the match away from India.
Hayden, world record holder for the highest Test score, drove and pulled with trademark arrogance that was not seen in the tri-series earlier. The burly left-hander reached his hundred in 95 balls that included three strong sixes and nine fours.
Hayden was given the benefit of doubt for a close caught behind appeal from Irfan Pathan in the 39th over and was never the same batsman after that. He played and missed a few before being bowled around the legs by Sachin Tendulkar.
Martyn rediscovered his touch at the wrong time for Indians. His innings had class written all over and the fans were treated to some elegant strokes, especially on the off, until he fell trying to hook Pathan and holed out to Hemang Badani at square-leg.
Tendulkar bowled a tidy spell of slow leg-cutters and India looked like restricting the Australians to a manageable total but Symonds’ attack changed the script. The right-hander plundered seven fours and three sixes as Australia hammered 111 runs in the last 8.4 overs.
Symonds’ partnership with Michael Clarke for the fifth wicket was worth 99, from 7.5 overs. Nehra’s last three overs went for 36, while Tendulkar conceded 17 in his last over. Clarke remained unbeaten on 33 from 30 balls with three fours.
India started on a fantastic note with Virender Sehwag flicking Jason Gillespie over fine-leg for a six off the first ball. But it was soon seen that bowling down the leg was not a bad ploy. Sehwag glanced another ball and this time Brett Lee took a stunning catch at short fine-leg.
Gillespie and Lee combined once again to send back Tendulkar, who till then, was looking determined to play a long innings. V.V.S. Laxman, having scored five international centuries on this tour, was dismissed in bizarre fashion, ruled caught and bowled by the third umpire.
Trying to dig out a Lee yorker, Laxman brought down his bat and the ball popped straight back to the bowler who immediately appealed. Umpire Rudi Koertzen was puzzled but referred it to the third umpire who had no doubt about his verdict.
Rahul Dravid tried to steal a single but Martyn beat him with a direct hit before Sourav cut Ian Harvey for a simple catch to point. The rest didn’t know what to do, though Pathan did his no reputation no damage with a belligerent 30 off 41 balls with six fours.
Murali Kartik made 23 with the help of three fours but it mattered little as India suffered their second worst one-day defeat after the 245-run loss to Sri Lanka in Sharjah in 2000.