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01 Feb 2008 14:27
Australia captain Michael Clarke steered his side to a nine-wicket victory over India in their Twenty20 international at a packed Melbourne Cricket Ground on Friday.
After skittling the world champions out for just 74, with Nathan Bracken taking three wickets and Irfan Pathan’s 26 the only score in double figures, Clarke then scored 37 of Australia’s runs needed for victory.
With Greek dance music booming out over loudspeakers, and the 84 041 near-capacity crowd clapping along—including the members in the exclusive Melbourne Cricket Club seating—Australia sprinted to victory in 11.2 overs.
Adam Gilchrist, who is retiring after the forthcoming one-day triangular series, scored a typically explosive 25, which included two boundaries and a six.
He received a standing ovation from the crowd when he became the only Australian wicket to fall.
Brad Hodge was with Clarke on 10 when the match ended.
“I’m speechless [but] definitely not surprised. The way we prepared and studied the Indian batsmen over the last few Twenty20 matches they have played was spot on and our execution was exactly how we wanted it,” Clarke told reporters.
“We will take a lot of momentum and confidence from this heading into the one-day series.”
India, who knocked Australia out of last year’s Twenty20 world championships in the semifinals and won their only other Twenty20 encounter, were woeful.
Only Pathan, the last man out, showed any semblance of resistance to the Australians.
“We lost too many early wickets and it was too difficult to attack the bowlers and rotate the strike,” said India captain Mahendra Dhoni.
“Guys who should have played their strokes were playing some other game while guys who should have stayed there went for their shots.”
India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh was universally booed every time he touched or came near the ball.
The bowler had his three-match ban for racially abusing all-rounder Andrew Symonds quashed after an appeal earlier in the week, and he quickly became a target for the Australian crowd throughout the match.
Bracken took 3-11 off 2.3 overs while Adam Voges took two wickets in one over as India only just surpassed the 73 set by Kenya against New Zealand—the lowest score in an international Twenty20 match not affected by the weather—before Pathan was out.
South Africa scored 58-8 against the West Indies last December in a match reduced to 13 overs because of rain.—Reuters
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