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Australia cruise to victory over India

Australia has crushed world champion India by nine wickets after the tourists suffered a catastrophic collapse in their Twenty20 International at the MCG on Friday night.

The home side lost only the wicket of retiring great Adam Gilchrist as it overhauled India's embarrassing total of 74, the second lowest in 52 Twenty20 internationals, inside 12 overs.

If India's batting was woeful, then its fielding and bowling was not much better.

Harbhajan Singh, who was vigorously jeered by a massive 84,000-strong crowd, and Irfan Pathan comically spoiled each other Michael Clarke when they failed to hear the other's cry of 'mine' in the deafening noise.

Fittingly, India handed victory to Australia with a wide.

That ended a forgettable night for the visitors, who earlier had bettered by one Kenya's record low of 73 set against New Zealand in last year's ICC World Twenty20 Championship.

The Indians, who were dismissed in the 18th over, never recovered after an electrifying spell from new-ball pair Brett Lee and Nathan Bracken left the tourists on the skids at 4-20 in the fourth over.

So disastrous was its collapse, its highest partnership was a meagre 17 and only one player, Pathan, who made 26 from 30 balls, ventured into double figures.

The massive crowd came to the MCG expecting to see fireworks with the bat but instead saw them being detonated by the Australian bowlers.

Such was his bowlers' dominance over the Indian batsmen, Clarke, deputising for an injured Ricky Ponting, placed an unprecedented - at least in Twenty20 cricket - eight fielders around the bat when No.11 Ishant Sharma strode to the crease in the 16th over.

While Bracken was the pick of the bowlers with 3-11, it was Lee who sent shockwaves through the Indian dressing room with a ferocious opening spell.

After sending two of his first three balls wide down the leg side, Lee was simply outstanding.

Bowling consistently around the 150km/h mark, Lee used the bouncer with good effect and unleashed a 155km/h thunderbolt which crashed on the full onto Dinesh Karthik's off stump.

Karthik was not the only batsman to struggle. Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa and Rohit Sharma all fell to injudicious strokes, while Virender Sehwag was brilliantly run out by Clarke at gully as India lost five wickets in the first seven overs.

Consequently, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, normally one of the most explosive batsmen in the game, was forced to abandon his aggressive game for one of caution.

Dhoni, who took eight balls to get off the mark, regularly let balls go to the keeper but when he suffered a rush of blood to the head and holed out in the deep, India's hope of resurrecting its innings was gone.

It lost its final four wickets in the space of 20 balls, its only joy coming when it passed Kenya's record low moments before being dismissed.

From there, Australia never looked like losing. It lost the wicket of Gilchrist for 25 when just 18 runs from victory but Clarke, who made an unbeaten 37, and local hero Brad Hodge steered the hosts to victory.

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