Praveen Kumar has been India’s surprise package of the CB Series. With very limited experience at the international level – he made his debut back in November last year – he would never have imagined opening the bowling in the CB Series final just a few months later and actually bagging the Man-of-the-Match award against the world champions Australia.
MS Dhoni realised Praveen’s ability to trouble the best batsmen in the business with swing and he had no hesitation in giving him the new ball. With Australia set to chase 259, Praveen struck in his first over to send back the dangerous Adam Gilchrist. The ball pitched outside off and moved a shade away, and a tentative poke from Gilchrist saw the ball shaving the outside edge on its way to the keeper. Gilchrist knew he was gone and Praveen couldn't contain his excitement. Next up was Ricky Ponting, who lost his wicket to the same bowler in the first final. It wasn’t the best delivery, as it was pitched slightly short outside off and Ponting had the right intentions in going for the pull. However, he ended up playing too early and spooned a catch to Yuvraj Singh at mid-on.
The score soon read 3 for 32 as Michael Clarke fell victim to Praveen. The ball shot low to Clarke who shaped to pull and the offstump was pegged back. Praveen was proving to be India’s trump card again and for a while the Australians were at sea, playing and missing against his swing. Australia clawed back in the middle overs as James Hopes took Australia agonizingly close to victory with his maiden fifty. However, Praveen returned from an 11-run 45th over to snap a threatening eight-wicket stand. Praveen displayed awesome composure to bowl a three-run 47th, cleaning up Brett Lee with a slower ball and the match was all but sealed. Australia needed close to two runs per ball and India prevailed by nine runs to lift the CB Series.