Not for nothing is Michael Bevan known as the Terminator. For the
first time in the series, the crowd was treated to a crackerjack of a
contest as the 30-year old lefthander carved out an unbeaten 87 to
ferry Australia to a four wicket victory in Goa. At the fag end of a
largely disappointing tour for the visitors, Bevan's masterful hand
sealed a 3-2 series triumph and salvaged some wounded pride.
Stepping to the wicket after Javagal Srinath's double strike in the 11th over,
Bevan played the early foil to Adam Gilchrist. Bevan is the sort of player
who collects his singles with the stealth of a panther stalking its prey,
chalking up the runs on the board before his opponents can realise. Like
any other Bevan innings, this one was fashioned around some aggressive
running between the wickets, with only the odd boundary accruing in the
early phase of his innings.
Here too he took his time to assess the pace of the wicket and then
gradually upped the ante. Bevan took 49 balls to collect his first
boundary, a delicate cut off Yuvraj Singh, and then for good measure,
pulled the same bowler to midwicket in his next over. Steve Waugh, Darren
Lehmann and Andrew Symonds all parted brass rags with Bevan as Australia
slumped to 202/6 in the 40th over. Faced with an asking rate of more than
run a ball for the first time, even the normally collected Bevan was
briefly unsettled, coming down the track and attempting a premeditated shot.
But he quickly recovered and fortified the Aussie battlement in the company
of Ian Harvey. Bevan pulled Srinath to the deep midwicket boundary in the
44th over but the defining moment came two overs later when he deposited
Harbhajan Singh, Australia's tormentor, into the stands at midwicket.
That finished off the Indians, at least in spirit, and shortly
afterwards he clubbed Zaheer Khan for two boundaries in an over
to close out the game in more tangible terms, with two
overs to spare.
One of just four Australian players who did not fall victim to the rotation
policy, Bevan averaged 109 in the series. It was Benjamin Disraeli who once
said that there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.
But Bevan's average of 57.41 over a duration of 159 games and 141 innings
cannot be a more truthful testament to his lavish skills. As skipper Steve
Waugh said in his post-match comments, Bevan's timely exhibition proved
just why he is the best one-day batsman in the world.