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Australia romp to Twenty20 victory

Before the start of the ODIs, a bad ‘practice game’ for the world champions of instant cricket, reports Atreyo Mukhopadhyay.Full Scorecard

cricket Updated: Feb 02, 2008 04:07 IST
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay

One had to be in Melbourne on a lovely Friday evening to believe that 84,041 could turn up for a Twenty20 match that lasts about three hours if it goes the distance. Draped in the national flags of Australia and India, almost the entire city headed for the MCG from the afternoon with chants of 'Aussie, Aussie, Aussie' filling the air at the majestic arena which was at its resplendent best.

With the weekend beginning early, the stage was set for a contest befitting the occasion. The Aussies had after all said they "would go flat out" against the world champions of the latest version of cricket. So when firecrackers welcomed the India openers and Australia fielders after MS Dhoni had won the toss, expectations were high.

That hopes might plummet started becoming a reality from the fourth over, with India losing four wickets. It seemed someone would stem the rot but the batsmen started finding the fielders with their aerial shots and India had to thank their stars for scraping past Kenya's 73 (against England in the T20 World Championship) after being nine down for 63.

As captain of this new and aggressive Indian outfit, Dhoni had said on Thursday that this would be a "practice match" ahead of the tri-series. But that batting "practice" lasted all of 17.3 overs and there was some sound thumping for the bowlers after that.

Yuvraj Singh, India's hero with the bat in the T20 World Cup, wasn't playing because he was injured, while Sachin Tendulkar doesn't figure in the T20 plans. Although the other batsmen had just 20 overs to show their skills, the thought that they folded up well before that might be worrisome.

True, it was just a T20 match and one shouldn't jump to conclusions because the dynamics of a 50-over game are different and that every team can have a bad day. Australia, for example, hold the dubious T20 record of being bowled out in the least number of overs (14.3, against England in 2005) and that has had little impact on their domination in one-dayers.

India could have salvaged some consolation while fielding, but the ruthlessness displayed by the Australians meant that they drew a blank on that front too. The ball kept racing to the ropes and soaring over it to ensure that a show designed to entertain for close to 40 overs was over well before that.

The only positive for India was the agony didn't last longer.