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India's champion stuff too hot for Australia
Harish Kotian in Mumbai | October 20, 2007 20:52 IST
Last Updated: October 20, 2007 22:39 IST
Gautam Gambhir's [Images] blazing knock of 63 helped India crush Australia by seven wickets in the one-off Twenty20 international at the Brabourne stadium in Mumbai on Saturday.
Gambhir smashed six boundaries and a six in his 52-ball knock as India coasted to the victory target of 167, with 11 balls to spare.
India lost an early wicket in the form of Virender Sehwag [Images] for 5, but Gambhir and Robin Uthappa (35) entertained the crowd with delightful strokeplay. The youngsters put on a quick 82-run partnership to put India on course to victory.
Earlier, Ricky Ponting [Images] smashed 76 off 53 deliveries to guide Australia to a healthy 166 for 5 in their 20 overs.
Harbhajan Singh [Images] was instrumental in restricting the Australians in the middle over, as he took one wicket for 17 runs in his four.
Murali Kartik, making his Twenty20 debut, also impressed giving away 27 runs in his four overs.
India are the reigning Twenty20 World champions, having won the inaugural tournament in South Africa last month.
This is the first every Twenty20 international on Indian soil.
Adam Gilchrist [Images] started his innings with a lucky boundary off R P Singh's second delivery as his attempted slash on the off-side went between the slip and wicketkeeper. Thereafter he smashed two more boundaries on either side of the wicket.
He, however, fell for 12 when he played all over a full delivery from Singh off the fifth ball of the match.
Ricky Ponting also got off the mark in rather streaky fashion when his edge went to the boundary through the vacant slips region. He then announced himself with two commanding boundaries in Singh's second over as Australia raced to 25 for 1 after three overs.
Hayden hit two huge sixes in successive overs off Sreesanth [Images] and Singh as Australia posted 42 for 1 in five overs.
Irfan Pathan [Images] replaced Sreesanth, but was immediately taken to the cleaners as Ponting smashed him for four boundaries in his opening over.
But Harbhajan Singh brought India back into the game when he claimed the crucial wicket of Hayden in the seventh over. The left-hander tried to play through the covers but inside edged it onto his stumps and was dismissed for 17.
Andrew Symonds [Images] once again made his way to the middle to a hostile reception from the Mumbai crowd.
Symonds and Ponting consolidated in the middle overs against the spin duo of Kartik and Harbhajan as Australia reached 81 for 2 after 10 overs.
Ponting reached his half-century in the 13th over off an edged boundary that just evaded a diving Mahendra Singh Dhoni. It took the Australian captain just 33 deliveries to reach the landmark and included nine boundaries.
Symonds and Ponting added 60 runs for the third wicket before the former was run out for 20 in the 14th over after a misunderstanding with his captain.
Brad Hodge's horror run in India ended in quite the same fashion when he was bowled for 2 by Pathan as Australia reached 116 for 4 after 15 overs.
Harbhajan dished out another tidy performance, claiming 1 for 17 in his four overs. Kartik also impressed, giving away just 27 runs in his four.
Sreesanth conceded 22 runs in his final overs as Ponting hit him for two boundaries to take Australia to 149 for 4 after 18 overs.
Ponting's entertaining knock of 76 came to an end when he dragged one on to his stumps and was bowled for 76. He hit 13 boundaries in his 53-ball knock before falling in the 19th over.
Michael Clarke [Images] provided the flourish in the final overs, hitting 25 from 25 deliveries, including two boundaries as Australia ended on 166 for five in their 20 overs.
The Indian seamers once again struggled to keep a check on the scoring rate as was the case in the recently-concluded ODI series between the two teams.
Pathan chipped in with vital wickets to return figures of 2 for 34 in his four overs.
The pitch looks good for batting and India will hope their batsmen can deliver in their first outing as World champions.
Virender Sehwag hit a straight boundary off a yorker from Lee in the third over, but fell to the next for 5 when he edged behind trying to hit a wide delivery.
Ben Hilfenhaus was introduced the third over and the move nearly paid dividends. Gambhir tried to loft over mid-off but holed out to the fielder. However, the bowler overstepped the mark and it was declared a no-ball.
Uthappa started smashing the ball around as soon as he arrived at the crease. He smashed three boundaries off Lee's third over as India raced to 50 for 1 after five.
Hilfenhaus also suffered in his next over as he went for 18 runs, including a six off a free hit by Gambhir.
Gambhir and Uthappa were batting like real champions and no Aussie bowler was spared. They brought up their 50-run partnership in just 27 deliveries in the seventh over.
Nothing seemed to be bother the two youngsters as they milked the bowling quite intelligently. India raced to 100 for 1 after just 10 overs.
But, against the run of play, India lost the wicket of Uthappa to part-timer Michael Clarke in the 11th over. Uthappa tried to play it fine, but could only edge it behind to keeper Gilchrist for a fine knock of 35.
His second wicket partnership of 82 in 52 deliveries with Gambhir had put India firmly on the path of victory.
Gambhir, however, continued to bat solidly and reached his half-century off just 40 deliveries in the 13th over. In the next delivery, Yuvraj hit a flat six through mid-wicket to send the crowd into raptures and chants of "sixer, sixer" filled the stadium.
Gambhir fell for a solid innings of 63, caught at midwicket, attempting a rash pull shot off Hilfenhaus.
The left-hander hit six boundaries and a six in his 52-ball knock to lead India's run chase. It was his second match-winning knock in as many matches to follow up on the blazing 75 he made against Pakistan in the World Cup final.
Yuvraj hit two consecutive sixes off Stuart Clark in the 17th over as India looked to finish off things quickly.
Dhoni, who was greeted by chants of "Deepika", finished the match in style when he smashed Lee for a huge six over square leg.
Yuvraj finished unbeaten on 31, inclusive of three sixes as India coasted to the victory target of 167, losing just three wickets, with 11 deliveries to spare.
India rose to the occasion very well and played like true champions. Barring for a few changes, it was the same team that was outplayed in the ODIs, but here they seemed unstoppable and had answers to everything Australia threw at them.
The victory made it clear that the World Cup victory was no fluke and India are the best team in this format. The all-conquering Aussies have a lot to learn from them.