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Last Updated: Friday, 9 January, 2004, 11:21 GMT
India fall short
VB Series, match one, Melbourne: India 270 (49 overs) lost to Australia 288 (48.3 overs) by 18 runs

Andrew Symonds
It was swinging a bit, even Sachin missed a couple
Andrew Symonds

Australia drew first blood in the VB Series as India were dismissed 18 runs short of the hosts' formidable 288.

India looked on course to record the highest ever successful run-chase at the MCG when needing 32 runs off the last 26 balls with six wickets in hand.

But two wickets in two balls, including Sourav Ganguly for 82, sparked a slide that saw Australia record their 11th straight win over India Down Under.

Andrew Symonds starred for Australia, hitting a rapid 88 and taking 2-47.

Ajit Agarkar took 6-42 - the best figures ever returned at the MCG - to curb the Aussies after a lightning start.

But Symonds and Michael Clarke (63 off 66 balls) put Australia back on top with a stand of 143 for the fifth wicket.

Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden scored at greater than a run-a-ball for the opening stand of 59.

Agarkar made the first breakthrough in the ninth over, having Gilchrist (34) caught by Irfan Pathan.

Ajit Agarkar took six wickets in Melbourne
Agarkar did his best to limit the damage with a six-wicket haul

Agarkar then removed Hayden (20) and Damien Martyn with consecutive balls in the 11th over to leave Australia reeling at 70-3.

Symonds came in at 89-4 after skipper Ricky Ponting was caught and bowled by Lakshmipathy Balaji for 18.

The fifth wicket, which saw one Sourav Ganguly over plundered for 19 runs, came to an end when Clarke was caught on the boundary, mis-timing a slower ball from Anil Kumble.

After Symonds's 102-ball knock was over, only Ian Harvey reached double figures in the lower order before Australia were dismissed with nine balls remaining.

India felt they had restricted Australia somewhat, and they started their reply in positive - if somewhat streaky - fashion.

Neither Sachin Tendulkar nor Virender Sehwag were fluent early on - both played and missed and survived inside edges - but it was Tendulkar who made his luck count.

Eight boundaries - scored on both sides of the wicket - and a six off the unlucky Jason Gillespie edged high over the sight screen behind the batsman saw him pass 50 in even time.

Sehwag was first to go, bowled off an inside edge off Harvey, and India were 134-2 when Tendulkar (63 off 69 balls) perished to a spectacular one-handed reflex catch by Ponting high above his head at short mid-wicket.

Ganguly played a series of savage down-the-ground strokes - including one that went for six - but Australia were ruing Matthew Hayden's drop in slip with the India captain on 24.

VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid fell in quick succession to reduce India to 195-4, but Ganguly and Yuvraj Singh got the chase back on track.

They seemed to be calling the shots until Yuvraj became Clarke's second of four catches off the bowling of Harvey (3-52) in the 46th over.

The killer blow came next ball when Ganguly was sent back by Sanjay Bangar only to be run out at the non-striker's end by the bowler.

The loss of the captain knocked the stuffing out of India, their last six wickets falling for just 13 with their effort petering out at the end of the 48th over.

Australia: A C Gilchrist (Wkt), M L Hayden, R T Ponting (Capt) D R Martyn, M G Bevan, A Symonds, M J Clarke, I J Harvey J N Gillespie, A J Bichel, B A Williams.

India: V Sehwag, S R Tendulkar, S C Ganguly (Capt), V V S Laxman R Dravid (Wkt), Yuvraj Singh, S B Bangar, A B Agarkar, I K Pathan A Kumble, L Balaji.

Umpires: S A Bucknor and S J A Taufel

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