AUSTRALIA IN A COMMANDING POSITION
The introduction of spin from both ends by Ganguly made the scoring rate dip considerably as Australia moved on to 169/3. Australia have scored 67 runs off the last 15 overs. Adam Gilchrist who made 76 runs off 60 balls was the only batsman to be dismissed in the period.
Sachin Tendulkar and Harbhajan Singh in tandem bowled a tight line and length, denying the batsmen any free hits. On their part the Australian batsmen kept the scorecard moving taking quick singles. The running between the wickets has been aggressive and purposeful.
Glichrist was bowled by Tendulkar, trying to guide a ball towards third-man. Bowling around the stumps, Tendulkar angled the ball into the batsman. Gilchrist who has trouble with the ball angling in, played all over the ball. Tendulkar now has 99 wickets in ODIs.
Michael Bevan (37*) and Steve Waugh (8*) are at the crease. The introduction of Yuvraj Singh saw Bevan cutting loose, striking a couple of boundaries, a delicate late cut to the third-man fence and a powerful pull shot to the mid-wicket fence.
AUSTRALIA MAKE AN EXCELLENT START
Adam Gilchrist (61*) is leading the Australian chase in Goa and with him is Michael Bevan (1*) at the crease. Australia are 102/2 after 15 overs and still require another 164 runs for a win in 35 overs at a rate of 4.60 per over.
Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist saw Australia off to a cracking start as they put together 70 runs for the first wicket in just 10.1 overs.
In the 11th over Javagal Srinath struck a double blow, Hayden (36) was caught by Ganguly at mid-on and Ricky Ponting (4) edged one through to Dahiya, behind the stumps. Australia were reduced to 74/2 at the end of that eventful over.
Gilchrist who smashed a six and two fours off Agarkar in the 10th over (which went for 17 runs) did not go on the defensive. He picked 11 runs off Harbhajan Singh's first over, which included a couple of fours. In the following over Gilchrist swung Srinath twice through the leg side for boundaries to reach his fifty in just 28 balls. He has so far struck 10 fours and a six in his electric knock.
Earlier, set a target of 266 to make in 50 overs for a win, Australia got off to a flying start. Hayden took the bulk of the strike and scored most of the runs in the early overs. He was particularly severe on Srinath, boundaries coming in all directions, and a six that was struck with great power straight over the bowler's head. Hayden's 36 came off 42 balls with the help of five boundaries and a six.
LAXMAN (101) DAZZLES AS INDIA MAKE 265/6
India scored 113 runs in the last 20 overs to take their total to 265/6 at the end of the allotted 50 overs. Australia did rather well to restrict the Indian score, which at one stage was heading for something above 300. VVS Laxman who put the Australian bowling to the sword in the Test series made sure he got to his maiden hundred in Goa. Laxman was at his very best today, timing his strokes to perfection.
Laxman launched into an attack on Lehmann, pulling one through mid-wicket for a boundary and then smashing an extra cover drive past the ropes. In the 38th over Laxman knocked off consecutive boundaries off Warne; dancing down the track to a flighted one and thrashing it straight and the following ball disappeared past the ropes at mid-wicket. Laxman brought up his hundred off just 105 balls.
Dravid (31) who had given good support to Laxman was caught by Waugh at square leg off Symonds. The two batsmen put together a partnership for the third wicket that yielded 96 runs in 16 overs. India were reduced to 218/3 at that stage.
Australia fought back into the match by dismissing Laxman in the 44th over. Laxman going for a big shot off Harvey skied a catch to gully, Gilchrist running around completed the catch. Laxman's brilliant knock of 101 came off 107 balls with the help of 10 elegant boundaries. From the following delivery, Hemang Badani (7) played all over a low full toss from Harvey to inside edge onto his stumps. India who were at one stage heading for a score in excess of 300 were pushed back on the backfoot at 230/5.
Yuvraj Singh and Vijay Dahiya scratched around for a while. Yuvraj never looked comfortable, his timing all awry. He got his first boundary with a big edge off Bracken to the third man fence in the 48th over. The next ball was lofted over covers for a four. Yuvraj was run out in the last over after making 19 runs off 21 balls. Dahiya remained unbeaten on 15 with Zaheer Khan yet to face a ball. Nathan Bracken was the best of the Australian bowling, finishing with the figures of 10-1-37-1.
INDIA IN AN EXCELLENT POSITION, 152/2 AFTER 30 OVERS
India raised the tempo more than a little to score 97 runs off the last 15 overs for the loss of Ganguly's wicket. India are 152/2 at the end of the 30th over with VVS Laxman (52*) and Rahul Dravid (12*) at the crease. The story of the morning so far has been the batting of Indian skipper Saurav Ganguly (74).
Ganguly really took to Warne after the first drinks break, lofting him high and handsome over long-on for a six. Ganguly followed the act by lofting Warne straight for a huge six to reach his fifty. The following ball was swung around the corner to the fine leg fence for yet another four. Waugh had no other choice but to take Warne out of the attack.
Ganguly's resurgent innings came to an end when he was caught by Ricky Ponting, trying to fend at a short rising ball from McGrath. TV replays suggested that the ball could have been called a no ball for its height. Ganguly's 74 runs came off 83 balls with the help of nine boundaries and two sixes. The second wicket partnership between Ganguly and Laxman yielded 105 runs in just 20.3 overs.
Laxman who had earlier struck a wonderful on drive off McGrath for four, took the attack to the part time bowler, Andrew Symonds. In the 26th over Laxman struck two classy boundaries to step up the pace. Laxman has so far faced 66 balls and struck four boundaries as he continues his prolific form.
Dravid got off the mark with a cracking stroke off McGrath through mid-wicket for a four. India will be looking at a huge score, given the fact that they have had a good start.
INDIA ARE 55/1 AFTER 15 OVERS
Saurav Ganguly (32*) seems to have got back into his rhythm. After a long struggle through the series, Ganguly started off shakily, edging the first ball of the match from Glenn McGrath through the slips for a four.
Sachin Tendulkar as always looked good for a big one, cracking fours off McGrath and Nathan Bracken. Tendulkar (12) was caught behind by Gilchrist off the bowling of Bracken, going for a big drive on the rise. He struck a couple of boundaries facing 15 balls.
Ganguly in the meanwhile has looked more assured in the middle. He got into the act by swinging Warne through mid-wicket and then over square leg for boundaries in the 14th over. He has so far struck five boundaries in his knock off 49 balls.
Laxman (11*) who came in to bat after the fall of Tendulkar, struck a sweetly timed four through covers off the bowling of Harvey. Harvey must be cursing himself after he put down a difficult return catch offered by Laxman.
INDIA BATTING FIRST AFTER WINNING THE TOSS
Saurav Ganguly called it right at the toss and decided to have a bat first in the final ODI match against Australia played at Nehru Stadium, Fatorda, Margao, Goa. Australia will have to do all the chasing in this match, which is the tie-breaker as the series is locked at 2-2.
This match has all the looks of grand finale given the fact that the winner of this match will take the series. India have made one change to their side, Robin Singh makes way for the young Yuvraj Singh. Australia have gone in with possibly their best team available. They have made three changes to the side that won in Vishakapatnam; Darren Lehmann, Andrew Symonds and Ian Harvey replace Damien Martyn, Shane Lee and Damien Fleming.
The pitch looks good enough for another high scoring match, the outfield is lush and green and the ball will go into the fence at a lightning pace. The stage is set for a thrilling encounter
*SC Ganguly, SR Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, R Dravid, HK Badani, Yuvraj Singh, +V Dahiya, AB Agarkar, Harbhajan Singh, Z Khan,
ML Hayden, +AC Gilchrist, RT Ponting, MG Bevan, *SR Waugh, DS Lehmann, A Symonds, IJ Harvey, SK Warne, GD McGrath, NW Bracken.
Umpires: F Gomes, Subrato Porel
Third Umpire: K Murali
Match Referee: CW Smith