Gambhir Powers India To Twenty20 Victory

Gautam Gambhir scored a half century to power India to a seven-wicket victory over Australia in a one-off Twenty20 international on Saturday. Left-handed opener Gambhir cracked 63 and shared in two useful partnerships to help the hosts, world champions in this form of the game, achieve the target of 167 with 11 balls to spare. Australia skipper Ricky Ponting lashed a 53-ball 76 to guide his side to 166 for five after opting to bat on an excellent batting pitch at the Brabourne Stadium. But the Australian bowlers failed to curtail India, who were playing their first Twenty20 international at home and seemed to be scoring at will. Gambhir and the exciting Robin Uthappa (35) shared an 82-run second-wicket stand to give the hosts a flying start after opener Virender Sehwag's early exit. Left-arm spinner Michael Clarke dismissed Uthappa, caught behind trying to steer the ball through the slips, with India on 102 in the 11th over. But Gambhir, who hit five fours and a six in his 52-ball knock, and the in-form Yuvraj Singh, who struck a majestic 31 not out, put on 41 for the third wicket. Gambhir, who struck a half-century in the Twenty20 World Cup final against Pakistan, was caught by Ponting while giving pacer Ben Hilfenhaus the charge. But Yuvraj, who hit paceman Stuart Clark for two consecutive sixes, and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (9 not out) guided India to victory with the skipper scoring the winning runs with a six off fast bowler Brett Lee. Ponting hit 13 fours and put on 48 for the second wicket with opener Matthew Hayden (17), 50 for the third with Andrew Symonds (20) and 42 with Michael Clarke (25 not out) for the fifth. But the Indian spinners Harbhajan Singh and Murali Kartik, making his debut, checked the run rate in the middle overs and the visitors were further pegged back by the dismissals of Symonds and Brad Hodge (2) in rapid succession. Australia, who lost to surprise winners India in the semi-finals of the Twenty20 World Cup in September, won the one-day series 4-2 earlier this month. © Reuters 2007