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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Australia beat India in one-day thriller

World champions Australia claimed a four-run victory in the opening one-day international on Sunday after India went close to reaching a daunting target of 293.

A plucky eighth-wicket stand of 84 by Harbhajan Singh (49) and Praveen Kumar (40 not out) almost gave India victory after they had slid to 201 for seven.

India needed nine off the last over from Peter Siddle but the paceman bowled accurately, conceding just four runs and clean bowling Harbhajan.

Earlier, Australian batsmen, led by captain Ricky Ponting, fed on some listless Indian bowling on a flat Reliance Stadium track to post an imposing 292 for 8 in the first of the best-of-seven-match ODI series here today.

Electing to bat, Australia suffered an early blow before recovering superbly through a near-century stand between Ponting (74) and opener Tim Paine (50).

The sound beginning was build upon by half centuries from Cameron White (51) and Michael Hussey (73) as the Indian bowling, which has struggled of late, was put to the sword in merciless fashion in hot conditions.

In the morning, the hosts struck an early blow by sending back Australian opener Shane Watson, on a high coming into the series with back-to-back hundreds in the semifinal and final of the Champions Trophy in South Africa.

The burly batsman straight-drove the first ball of the series from Praveen Kumar for a boundary but then was trapped in front by an incoming ball from Ashish Nehra in the second over to which he played back.

Watson's early dismissal left Australia at five for one after eight balls and brought in visiting team's skipper Ricky Ponting to the crease.

Ponting, on a roll in one-dayers since the best-of-seven ODI series against England with two centuries and four half centuries under his belt from his last 10 innings, and Tim Paine -playing for the first time in a ODI in India -dominated the bowlers.

The duo kept the run rate at a healthy five plus to raise the 100 of their innings in the 19th over when wicketkeeper Paine tried to slash Ishant Sharma to be caught behind for 50.

Paine, who struck nine fours in his 62-ball innings, and Ponting shared 97 runs for the second wicket in 107 balls.

Ponting looked in total command, striking the ball beautifully, and hooked left arm pacer Ashish Nehra for a six.

He looked good for a 100 when he left, trapped leg before by young left-arm slow bowler Ravindra Jadeja while trying to turn the ball to the leg.

The Australia skipper faced 85 balls and hit eight fours and two sixes, the second one off Jadeja over a leaping Nehra at long off, and his dismissal at team total of 151 in the 30th over brought down the scoring rate a bit.

But that was a brief respite for the home team as Cameron White (51) and Michael Hussey (73) again stepped up the run rate after the 35th over to help Australia reach 213 for three at the end of the 40th. They added 76 runs in 77 balls.

Australia added 54 runs in the last 10 overs to leave India with an asking rate of 5.86.

Hussey, out of form before this series and a question mark against his name for the next Test series against West Indies, departed in the last over after facing 54 balls and striking the ball cleanly to hit eight fours and a six.

Indian bowling was a mixed bag. Nehra impressed right through but Kumar was expensive though he was unlucky that twice he got the edge of Paine's bat but the ball did not carry to the slip fielders.

Kumar was hoisted over the roof of the pavilion by Hussey in the 49th over of the innings to end up with no wicket for 77 runs.

Ishant, who has struggled of late, started unimpressively but then settled down to show glimpses of what he is capable of when in rhythm in his opening spell. Coming back in the slog overs he leaked runs but picked up the wickets of Hussey and Brett Lee and ended up with figures of 3/50 from his 10 overs.

Another disappointment was spin spearhead Harbhajan Singh who bowled a poor line and was punished for 20 runs in his first three overs and 27 in his second spell of five overs. He ended up with the wicket of Adam Voges in the slog overs after conceding 57 runs.

Jadeja did reasonably well and got the prize wicket of Ponting, and ended with impressive figures of one for 39 from his nine overs.

The Indian fielding was generally below par with many slow movers in the line-up.

Earlier, India had to leave out Yuvraj Singh, who is recovering from a finger injury sustained before the start of Champions Trophy, along with Munaf Patel, Amit Mishra and Sudeep Tyagi.

Australia benched Doug Bollinger, Jon Holland, Ben Hilfenhaus and Shaun Marsh.

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