Martyn makes India pay
Australia cruised into the ICC Champions Trophy semi-finals while ending India’s stranglehold over them with a crushing victory in Mohali.
Knocked out of the tournament in 1998 and 2000 by India, the world champions claimed revenge with a six-wicket win to set up a semi-final meeting with New Zealand on the same ground on Wednesday.
Having restricted India’s formidable batting line-up to 249 for eight on a good batting wicket, Australia all but ended this eagerly-awaited showdown as a contest by racing to 101 for one in only 14 overs.
Their triumph was completed with 4.2 overs remaining, Damien Martyn finishing unbeaten on 73 after becoming the third batsman in Australia’s top four to score a half-century.
A superb comeback from spearhead Brett Lee prevented India launching an assault in the final overs of their innings.
Well placed at 182 for three with 10 overs remaining, with captain Rahul Dravid unbeaten at the crease and Virender Sehwag having contributed a fine 65, India would have hoped to have scored at least 270.
Instead, their momentum was checked by pace bowler Lee, who recovered from an early assault - his first three overs cost 27 - to remove Dravid and Mohammad Kaif in successive overs.
Dravid had just pulled Lee through mid-wicket to bring up his half-century off 62 balls when he flicked the next ball to Michael Clarke at short mid-wicket.
Two overs later Kaif, who shared a fourth-wicket stand of 60 with Dravid, lost his off stump via an inside edge and all hopes of progressing to a formidable total were lost.
Sehwag had given India a flying start and raced to his half-century off 63 balls, but failed to maintain that rate and the innings fell away once Glenn McGrath capped an outstanding opening spell by inducing an edge from Sachin Tendulkar.
Dravid aside, no-one in India’s batting line-up was able to make a significant impression and they were to pay the price when Australia began their reply.
All-rounder Shane Watson teamed up with Adam Gilchrist in a ferocious 61-run opening stand spanning just 6.5 overs until the latter was superbly caught by Suresh Raina at point off Sri Sreesanth.
Watson continued in dominant fashion to reach his half-century off only 63 balls, despite having to call upon Gilchrist as a runner during the latter part of his innings due to cramp.
After Watson was given leg before to spinner Dinesh Mongia, captain Ponting picked up the mantle and scored his first half-century of the tournament.
Dismissed for single-figure scores in his two previous innings in the competition, Ponting grew in confidence and began using his feet to Mongia and long-standing spin adversary Harbhajan Singh.
Such was his mastery of India’s spinners, Dravid was forced to recall Sreesanth into the attack and he immediately claimed Ponting’s scalp when he was brilliantly caught by Tendulkar at slip for 58.
Martyn, under pressure for his place with Simon Katich waiting in the wings, followed suit with a well-paced innings that carried Australia past the winning post.
Using his feet to the spinners, Martyn hit eight boundaries and ensured Australia could afford the luxury of losing Andrew Symonds, bowled playing across the line to Irfan Pathan.