Cricket: World Cup - McGrath Dismantles Stars of India; at the Oval: Australia (282 for Six) Beat India (205) by 77 Runs
Field, David, The Birmingham Post (England)
It took one 88mph burst of classic quick bowling to accelerate Australia off the grid and on course for the chequered flag against India at The Oval.
Glenn McGrath, moving into full throttle at just the right time, needed just four balls to claim the major wicket of Indian master Sachin Tendulkar and race Australia towards a 77-run Super Six victory.
A vibrant stand of 141 between Ajay Jadeja and Robin Singh stalled Australia's victory march between the seventh and 38th overs.
Jadeja arrived amid the wreckage and finished undefeated on 100 from 138 balls (two sixes, seven fours), and with Singh ensured that his country at least went down with their pride intact, if not their optimism.
With India, like Australia, entering the elite stage with no points from the group matches, it could spell the end of the World Cup dream for the country which won the trophy when it was last contested in England 16 years ago.
And a surely bizarre World Cup `record' was set when two of the resident Oval pigeons were injured, presumed dead, by the ball, one being felled in flight by a throw from Paul Reiffel.
There was nothing new about the crowd invasion at the end. Jamaican umpire Steve Bucknor protected himself with a stump as he ran off, when one spectator rushed towards him before the security men arrived.
Man-of-the-match McGrath's zooming deliveries, averaging between 85 and 88 mph, also sped out Rahul Dravid and captain Mohammad Azharuddin, while Damien Fleming's dismissal of Saurav Ganguly left India minus their four top batsmen and in need of a miracle to overtake Australia's imposing total of 282 for six, sustained chiefly by Mark Waugh's 99-ball 83.
While McGrath's withering spell of three for five in 13 balls at the start of a spell of 10-1-34-3 was obviously pace-assisted, it was the immaculate line and difficult bounce of the crucial deliveries which was just as damaging to the cream of the Indian batting.
After one over, the main threat had gone. Tendulkar, the scourge of Australia in recent times, had no answer to McGrath and the resulting edge was gleefully thrown up by wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist.
It was no wonder Australia celebrated. The prolific Tendulkar had taken five hundreds off them in nine previous innings in Tests and one-day internationals.
Dravid, with two centuries in the tournament and 53 against England at Edgbaston, seem to have done enough to cover a ball from McGrath, but Gilchrist's gloves claimed another lightning edge.
Ganguly diverted a ball from Fleming off the inside edge which trimmed off the bails, then Azharuddin failed to negotiate a lifter which ballooned off the leading edge to give his rival captain the easiest of catches at point.
India, though, refused to capitulate as Jadeja and Singh fought with aggression and flair in the face of an impossible objective. Jadeja's century was the fifth of the competition - all scored by Indian batsmen.
It is usually Tendulkar who makes life hard for Shane Warne, but this time it was Singh, who struck three sixes off the leg-spinner in his 94-delivery 75.
Two came in Warne's sixth over which yielded 21. Jadeja also joined in the act, hoisting Warne for six.
While life was pretty good for the quicker bowlers, it was more agonising for Warne as his half-dozen overs cost a mighty 48. …