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Aussies throw down Twenty20 gauntlet

Source - smh.com.au

Australia have eyes on taking India's Twenty20 world crown after thrashing the tourists by nine wickets at the MCG.

The best side in Test and one-day cricket made it clear it wanted to add a third title to its cabinet by rolling India for 74 in 17.3 overs and then cruising to victory with 52 balls remaining.

Although Australia were impressive with the ball and in the field, the lopsided result made it a short night for the 84,041 fans, who won praise from authorities for their good behaviour following the racism row involving Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds.

Time barely allowed the spectators to misbehave had they wanted to, as Nathan Bracken (3-11) and his colleagues removed India's five specialist batsmen inside seven overs, and the tourists never recovered.

Acting captain Michael Clarke said Australia's bowlers deserved full credit for the way they studied India's batsmen after two previous defeats in the format.

"Our execution was exactly how we wanted it and I think you'll see more and more of that from the Australian Twenty20 team," he said.

"We're working towards becoming the world's best Twenty20 side and I think tonight was a great start, beating the world champions."

The next Twenty20 world championships will be played in England next year.

Australia regained their focus after the anger of having Harbhajan beat his racial abuse ban during the week by condemning India to the second-lowest total in the shortened form's brief history.

Adam Gilchrist then began his farewell tour with 25 and a rousing send-off, before Clarke (37 not out) and Brad Hodge (10 not out) ticked off the target.

Despite the good crowd behaviour, Harbhajan was jeered to the wicket by home fans after having his racial abuse suspension against Symonds downgraded.

The crowd also delighted in a collision between Harbhajan and Irfan Pathan in the field, which resulted in a dropped catch.

It made for an embarrassing night for the side which won the inaugural Twenty20 title in South Africa last year, and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni admitted his batsmen had panicked.

"We lost too many early wickets and in the middle overs we found it too hard to decide whether to go after the bowlers or rotate the strike," he said.

"Guys who should have stayed out there and given the stroke makers a base, they played their strokes and got out."

Clarke said the result would give Australia enormous confidence entering the opening match of the triangular one-day series, against India at the Gabba on Sunday.

However Dhoni said the tourists would treat this match as a practice game, given six members of Friday night's side were yet to play a match this tour.

Australia are hopeful of regaining captain Ricky Ponting on Sunday, after he missed the match because of back soreness.

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