VADODARA: Australia defeated India by four runs in a sensational contest in the first match of their one-day international series against India here on Sunday.
Chasing a tough target of 293, Indian batsmen fought well but could not win the match as they finished 288-8 in the allotted 50 overs.
They were at one stage 201 for seven and in sight of defeat but tail-enders Harbhajan Singh (49) and Praveen Kumar (40 not out) provided a great resistance and made together 84 runs to take their team close to victory.
They needed only ten runs in the final over but pacer Peter Siddle bowling Harbhajan out turned the tables as Kumar and Ashish Nehra could make only four runs from the remaining four balls.
Gambhir faced only 31 balls and smashed three sixes and four fours while Praveen hit one six and five fours in his 32-ball unbeaten innings.
Gautam Gambhir top-scored with 68, hitting six fours and a six. He added 58 with Virat Kohli (30) and 64 with captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (34).
Earlier, Captain Ricky Ponting top-scored with 74 as Australia posted a strong 292-8 after winning the toss.
Ponting hit eight fours and two sixes in his 85-ball knock and shared 97 runs with opener Tim Paine (50) after electing to bat on a placid wicket at the jam-packed Reliance stadium.
Michael Hussey then slammed 73 off 54 balls with the help of eight fours and a huge six in a late assault that also saw Cameron White chip in with 51.
Pacer Ishant Sharma was the most impressive among the bowlers, picking 3-50 off his 10 overs while left-arm seamer Ashish Nehra took 2-58.
Umpire Amish Saheba took on the on-field umpire’s role after England’s Mark Benson fell ill on the eve of the match. Saheba had earlier been named as the third umpire.
Ponting, who became only the second Australian after Steve Waugh to feature in 50 one-day internationals against India, looked in prime form as he anchored the innings with young Paine.
The Aussie skipper was trapped leg-before by Ravindra Jadeja, the left-arm spinner picking his first wicket in one-day internationals.
Paine, playing his first international in India, looked set for a big score, hitting nine boundaries in his 62-ball knock, when he edged Sharma behind the wicket.