Mumbai: Ricky Ponting hit a blistering half-century as Australia piled up 166-5 against world champions India in a Twenty20 international here on Saturday.
The 32-year-old captain smashed 76 off just 53 balls with the help of 13 fours to guide his side to an imposing total in the 20-over game which is the first for the teams after the World Championship in South Africa last month.
Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh was the most economical among the Indian bowlers, giving away 17 runs in his four overs with one wicket.
Australia were off to a blazing start after electing to bat despite losing aggressive openers Adam Gilchrist (12) and Matthew Hayden (17) early on.
Gilchrist's middle stump was uprooted by a searing Rudra Pratap Singh delivery in the very first over after he had hit the bowler for three fours while Hayden dragged one on to his stumps off Harbhajan.
Ponting, playing his 10th Twenty20 international, steadied the innings with a 50-run partnership with Andrew Symonds (20) for the third wicket before a mix-up cost the hard-hitting allrounder his wicket.
Brad Hodge's miseries on a dismal tour continued unabated as he was bowled by Irfan Pathan for two after completely missing a pull against the left-arm seamer.
Ponting though looked in terrific touch as he smashed Pathan for four fours and raced to his 50 off just 33 balls.
But it was Pathan who plotted Ponting's downfall when he induced an inside edge just when the batsman was looking to rattle up a big score. Pathan ended up with figures of 2-34.
Left-arm spinner Murali Kartik, roped into the side at the last minute after his heroics in the last one-dayer against Australia here on Wednesday, finished wicketless while conceding 28 runs off his four overs.
Paceman Shanthakumaran Sreesanth (0-47) was even more expensive as he was flogged by the Australian batsmen all round the park.
India need to score at slightly more than eight runs an over if they are to end the series on a winning note. The Indians lost the preceding seven-match series to the visitors 4-2.