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Australia beat India in thriller

Australia’s Mike Hussey, second left, who scored a 54-ball 73, watches as a model serves drinks during the first of a seven match one day international cricket series between Australia and India at Vadodara, India, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2009. (AP Photos/Saurabh Das)

VADODARA, India (AP) - Aggressive half-centuries by captain Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey led Australia to a four-run victory in Sunday’s series-opening one-day game against India.

Ponting’s 74 and Hussey 73 off 54 balls lifted Australia to 292-8 in 50 overs, with help from Cameron White’s 51 and Tim Paine’s 50.

India scored 288-8 in 50 overs after an 84-run partnership for the eighth wicket between Harbhajan Singh (49) and Praveen Kumar (40 not out) gave the home team a chance of victory.

India needed nine runs in the final six balls, but paceman Peter Siddle (1-55) bowled a tidy over to give Australia a winning start in the seven-match series.

World champion Australia went into the series after becoming the first country to win two successive Champions Trophy titles after its victory in South Africa, where India was knocked out of the preliminary round.

Ponting shared a partnership of 97 for the second wicket with opener Tim Paine.

The partnership provided the foundation for Australia after opening batsman Shane Watson fell in the second over of the match for 5, trapped lbw by an inswinger from Ashish Nehra.

Paine hit nine boundaries before being caught behind by Mahendra Singh Dhoni off paceman Ishant Sharma, who finished with 3-50.

Ponting asserted his authority upon the Indian attack, hitting two sixes and eight boundaries before falling lbw to left-arm spinner Ravinder Jadeja.

Hussey picked up the run rate after Ponting’s departure, featuring in a 76-run stand for the fourth wicket with Cameron White, who was later caught by Suresh Raina off Nehra (2-58).

White hit a six and three boundaries off 68 deliveries.

Hussey struck a six and eight fours. He fell in the last over, caught on the mid-wicket fence by Virat Kohli off Sharma.

India tottered in its run-chase after losing openers Virender Sehwag (13) and Sachin Tendulkar (14) cheaply.

Gautam Gambhir top-scored with 68 and put on 58 for the third wicket with Virat Kohli (30) and 64 for the fourth wicket with Dhoni (34), but Australia’s accurate attack struck at regular intervals.

Trying to loft Adam Voges over the fence, Kohli holed out to Watson at long-off. But Gambhir continued to execute his drives and cuts until left-arm paceman Mitchell Johnson (2-59) trapped him lbw with a low full-toss that he tried to flick square.

India’s chances appeared slim when Dhoni miscued a shot against Watson (2-70) to Lee at mid-on, but a late flourish from tailenders Harbhajan and Kumar raised the prospect of an improbable win.

Harbhajan struck three sixes in 31 deliveries before being bowled by Siddle in the final over.

Kumar’s unbeatean 32-ball knock contained a six and five boundaries.

SCOREBOARD

Australia

S. Watson lbw b Nehra 5

T. Paine c Dhoni b Sharma 50

R. Ponting lbw b Jadeja 74

C. White c Raina b Nehra 51

M. Hussey c Kohli b Sharma 73

A. Voges c Gambhir b H.Singh 3

J. Hopes run out 14

M. Johnson not out 14

B. Lee b Sharma 0

Extras: (2lb, 2nb, 4w) 8

TOTAL: (for 8 wickets) 292

Overs: 50.

Fall of wickets: 1-5, 2-102, 3-151, 4-227, 5-233, 6-256, 7-291,

8-292.

Did not bat: N. Hauritz, P. Siddle.

Bowling: Kumar 10-0-77-0 (2w), Nehra 10-0-58-2 (1nb), I. Sharma 10-0-50-3 (1nb), Harbhajan Singh 10-0-57-1 (2w), R. Jadeja 9-0-39-1, Raina 1-0-9-0.

India

V. Sehwag c Paine b Lee 13

S. Tendulkar c Ponting b Watson 14

G. Gambhir lbw b Johnson 68

V. Kohli c Watson b Voges 30

M.S. Dhoni c Lee b Watson 34

S. Raina c & b Johnson 9

R. Jadeja lbw b Hauritz 5

Harbhajan Singh b Siddle 49

P. Kumar not out 40

A. Nehra not out 2

Extras: (lb 10, w 14) 24

Total: (for 8 wickets) 288

Overs: 50.

Did not bat: I. Sharma

Fall of wickets: 1-25, 2-45, 3-103, 4-167, 5-183, 6-186, 7-201, 8-285

Bowling: Lee 6-0-28-1, Siddle 9-0-55-1 (3w), Watson 10-0-70-2,

Johnson 10-0-59-2 (5w), Hopes 2-0-10-0, Voges 4-0-22-1, Hauritz 9-1-34-1

Toss: Australia, who chose to bat

Man of the match: Mike Hussey (Aus)

Series: Australia lead 7-match series 1-0

Umpires: A. Saheba, (Ind), S.K. Tarapore (Ind).

Third Umpire: S. Asnani (Ind).

Match Referee: C. Broad (Eng).

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