India deny Australian revenge

India handed Australia a seven wicket thrashing in their one-off Twenty20 today, reaffirming the right to call themselves Twenty20 World Champions.

Australia had come into the match with a lot to prove. Rudely bundled out of the Twenty20 championship by an inspired India, revenge was on the cards. It was not enough to beat them in the one-day series, a win was vital at Mumbai in the one off Twenty20 to restore some pride in the format they had mockingly scoffed not very long ago.

Winning the toss and electing to bat, proceedings got off to an exciting start when Adam Gilchrist hit three fours in a row, one going through slips, one over the top of point and the third pulled down the leg side as the Australian vice-captain raced away to 12 at the blink of an eye before a superb comeback yorker from the bowler, RP Singh which saw Gilchrist?s middle stump uprooted, the explosive batsman stopped in his tracks.

Hayden managed 17 off 19 including a massive six, but never looked comfortable in his return from injury and before long, inside edged Harbhajan Singh onto his stumps.

Symonds, 20 off 18, was the victim of a horrible mix-up with Ponting and Hodge continued his horror streak in India, bowled for two.

The Australian innings never picked up the momentum and if not for Ricky Ponting, Australia would have been in a much worse position. Ponting played some classical and sublime strokes, bringing up his fifty in 34 balls, with quite a bit of luck on the way.

At times streaky, at times brilliant, Ponting held the Australian innings together in the extreme Indian conditions and only fell with the final ball of the penultimate over, to an inside edge off Irfan Pathan for 76 off 53 balls.

RP Singh bowled a miserly final over, only conceding eight runs with the Australians unable to produce any big shots to complete their innings, finishing with 5/166 off their 20 overs.

Harbhajan Singh was the pick of the Indian bowlers, suffocating the Australians in the middle overs and ending with top notch figures of 1-17 from his four overs. He had most of the Australian batsmen all over the place, his tight bowling putting considerable pressure on the Australians with Murali Kartik holding his own at the other end with an efficient 0-27.

Australia were made to pay for not selecting any spinners in the side when they came out to field with India getting off to a blistering start.

Brett Lee began well and had Sehwag out early after a series of aggressive bouncers for five.

That was all the joy Australia would see for a while as Uthappa came to the crease to join Gambhir in punishing the bowlers, bringing up the team’s 50 in just five overs and well on track. The spirited batsmen took 20 off Lee’s over in the fifth and 18 off Hilfenhaus in the sixth, the young duo whittled down the score with the Australians looking at a loss for answers.

India bought up their 100 in 10 overs playing irresistible cricket, before India’s new ‘danger man’, Uthappa, guided one of Michael Clarke’s part timers into the waiting hands of Gilchrist behind the stumps for 35 off 26 balls.

Gambhir had no trouble strolling to his half century off 40 balls, showing little discomfort with whatever Ponting’s men threw at him. The Australian bowling effort continued in its sloppiness, giving away wides and no balls as they consistently released the pressure off the Indian batsmen with the fielding not up to their lofty standards and unimaginative captaincy from the Australian skipper.

With the format’s premier batsmen, Yuvraj Singh, at the crease and looking the goods, the result was never in doubt at he helped Gambhir work the singles together with the odd boundary to maintain complete control over the match.

Gambhir’s fine innings was finally ended by a Hilfenhaus bouncer as the Indian batsmen launched into a lofted drive only to be caught by a patient Ponting for 63 off 53 balls, all but seeing India to the finishing line.

Yuvraj picked off two effortless sixes off Stuart Clark in the 17th over to take the record of the most twenty20 sixes hit away from the recently retired Craig McMillan in the process at 15 and India had little trouble in reaching Australia’s total in front of an ecstatic home crowd, winning by a comprehensive seven wickets.

The win will be a huge boost to India’s confidence ahead of their series against Pakistan and Australia later in the year. Not only does it reaffirm their superiority on the format, it has given them a slight mental edge over the Australians after a hectic tour, winning two matches on the trot and showing they could take it right up to the Australians in both limited overs formats and finishing a dramatic series on a high note.

Australia 5-166
Ricky Ponting 76
Harbhajan Singh 1-17, Irfan Pathan 2-34

India 3-167
Gautam Gambhir 63, Robin Uthappa 35
Michael Clarke 1-14, Ben Hilfenhaus 1-28

India won by seven wickets
Man of the Match: Harbhajan Singh

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