Centurion: Jason Gillespie led a ferocious Australian pace assault to send India packing for 125 in 41.4 overs in the World Cup Group 'A' match at Supersport Park on Saturday. Gillespie picked up 3-13 from 10 superb overs and Brett Lee took 3-36 as the Indians wilted after electing to bat before a packed house of 25,000, many of whom had flown in all the way from India to watch the high-profile game.
Sachin Tendulkar was the only top order batsman to offer resistance, making a dour 36 as five other specialists failed to reach double figures. India was reduced to 80-7 before tail-enders Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble showed team-mates how to bat with a 40-run stand for the eighth wicket. Harbhajan hit 28 off 32 balls, including an astonishing six over third man off Lee, while Kumble remained unbeaten on 16. The pathetic display by what is regarded as one of the best batting line-ups in the world follows its failure to last 50 overs in India's opening match against minnows Netherlands.
Reigning champions Australia, on the other hand, went into the match full of confidence after thrashing Pakistan, runners-up at the last World Cup, by a whopping 82 runs last Tuesday. A combination of reckless batting and devastating pace bowling saw India lose their first four wickets for 45 runs by the 15th over. Captain Saurav Ganguly (9) and Virender Sehwag were caught behind off Lee slashing outside the off-stump.
Rahul Dravid played Gillespie's first delivery on to his stumps, while Yuvraj Singh was given leg before off Glenn McGrath by Sri Lankan umpire Asoka De Silva even though replays showed the ball hit the top of the pad. Gillespie earned his second wicket soon after when Mohammad Kaif hooked a short ball down Andrew Symonds' throat at deep square leg to make India 50-5.
At the stage Gillespie had 2-2 from three overs, building on McGrath's 1-23 from eight and Lee's 2-16 off six. Gillespie stopped the run flow by conceding just six runs in his next five overs before grabbing the wicket the Australians wanted more. Tendulkar, who faced 59 deliveries watching the batting collapse at the other end, went inside the line of the ball to flick, missed and was caught plumb in front of the wicket.