Australia crush India in Twenty20 clash

Published: Friday, February 1, 2008, 18:16 [IST]
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MELBOURNE: Australia crushed a lamentable India by nine wickets in front of a huge crowd in the Twenty20 international here on Friday.

After winning the toss and batting, the Indians managed just 74, their lowest score in Twenty20 cricket and just one higher than the lowest ever in an international.

In reply, Australia cruised to victory in 11.2 overs, notching their first win in three Twenty20 matches against last year's inaugural World Cup winners.

In his final Twenty20 game for Australia, retiring wicketkeeper-batsman Adam Gilchrist received a huge ovation when he came out to bat and again when he departed as the only man out.

He was caught from the bowling of Praveen Kumar for 25 off 22 balls, the previous delivery a typically big six from the left-hander. Australian captain Michael Clarke, deputising for an injured Ricky Ponting, finished on 37, with Brad Hodge on 10.

It was only India's second loss in 10 matches in the newest form of the game and their score was just one better than Kenya's 73 against New Zealand last year.

Only all-rounder Irfan Pathan, the last man to fall on 26, ensured they passed Kenya and he was the only Indian batsman to reach double figures.

Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni admitted it was a disastrous performance, but was confident his side would bounce back before Sunday's opening match of the triangular one-day series against Australia.

"The only good thing we did was win the toss," he said.

Man-of-the-match Clarke couldn't have asked for more from his team, especially his bowlers. "What a fantastic performance," he said.

"The guys really looked forward to tonight and we were up for the game.

"The bowlers executed the plans really well."

With 84,041 people at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the Indians self-destructed almost from the moment they came out to bat.

Clarke set the tone when he produced a stunning piece of fielding at point to stop a Virender Sehwag cut and then threw down the stumps at the non-striker's end to remove the Indian opener for a duck off the fifth ball.

It sparked the Australians and by the end of the fourth over India had slumped to 20 for four, Brett Lee clean bowling Dinesh Karthik (8) with a thunderbolt and Nathan Bracken (3-11) picking up two early wickets.

After coming together at 32 for five, Dhoni and Pathan briefly steadied the ship by putting on 17, before the former holed out on the mid-wicket boundary from debutant spin bowler David Hussey.

Every Australian bowler tasted success, with part-time spinner Adam Voges on a hat-trick late in the Indian innings.

Clarke took a stunning catch to remove Harbhajan and the following ball saw Shanth Sreesanth caught at point by a diving Hodge for a duck.

It is doubtful Voges (2-5) has ever bowled with every fielder crowded around the bat before, but number 11 Ishant Sharma survived the hat-trick ball.

India's shambles of an evening was summed up a comical fielding mix-up that saw Pathan and Harbhajan unsuccessfully try to catch the ball, and by the fact that the winning Australian run came from a wide.

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