Melbourne:Australia beat India by 18 runs in the first match of the VB Tri-series at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Chasing 289 to win, India were all out for 270 in 49 overs. India were in a comfortable position after 44 overs when Sourav Ganguly and Yuvraj Singh were at the crease. India needed another 36 runs to win with six wickets in hand. But the quick dismissals of Yuvraj and Ganguly swung the match in Australia's favour. The Australians didnâ€™t take long to run through India's tailenders. Ajit Agarkar, Sanjay Bangar, Irfan Pathan and Anil Kumble were out in quick succession. Ganguly spearheads chase Though India got off to a good start, it failed to force a win. Openers added 103 for the first wicket before Virender Sehwag fell for 35 runs. Sachin Tendulkar went on to score 63 before Symonds had him caught by Aussie skipper Ricky Ponting. Sachin's knock included eight boundaries and a six. India lost their third wicket in the 32nd over â€“ V V S Laxman caught by Clarke, again off a Symonds delivery. Rahul Dravid at the crease with Ganguly raised hopes of a partnership, but the vice-captain was dismissed at 16, caught by Ian Harvey off a Michael Clarke delivery. Ganguly and Yuvraj Singh added 62 runs for the fifth wicket. But in the 46th over, both were dismissed on successive balls to reduce India to 257 for 6. Yuvraj Singh was out for 25 runs caught by Clarke off the bowling of Harvey. On the very next ball, Ganguly was run out for 82. From then on, it was all downhill for India. Ajit Agarkar was caught by Clarke off the bowling of Gillespie for 1. Harvey picked up his second wicket when he had Sanjay Bangar caught by Ricky Ponting for 3 runs. Brad Williams picked the last two wickets â€“ Kumble and Pathan. Earlier, Australia's Andrew Symonds and Michael Clarke struck valuable half-centuries as Australia recovered from a top-order collapse to post a healthy 288 in 48.3 overs. Indian paceman Ajit Agarkar, pulled off a brilliant spell, with a career-best six-wicket haul. Agarkar rips through Aussie top order Australia won the toss and decided to bat first, but suffered an early setback with Agarkar ripping through the Aussie top order, taking three quick wickets within the spate of two overs. Opening batsman Adam Gilchrist was the first one to go, caught off an Agarkar delivery in the deep by Irfan Pathan. Then in the 10th over, Hayden was plucked out of the air in a brilliant catch by Yuvraj Singh. In the very next delivery, Damien Martyn, trying to pull Agarkar, gave in to the hands of L Balaji, out for a duck. Then in the 16th over, Aussie skipper Ricky Ponting was caught and bowled by L Balaji. The world champions lost four wickets in the span of 30 runs to be reduced to 89 for four by the 16th over. But despite the early setback, the Aussies pulled up their socks and took charge with Andrew Symonds and Michael Clarke at the crease, pulling off a brilliant partnership for the fifth wicket. The two batsmen put up 143 runs on the board for Australia. Breakthrough for India But the breakthrough came when Clarke (63) trying to hit Kumble, was caught by Laxman in the 39th over. The new man, Michael Bevan couldnâ€™t last long at the crease and was caught by Ganguly while trying to hit a Virender Sehwag delivery. Andrew Symonds at 88, was going great guns with five boundaries and three sixers but was caught by Kumble while trying to hit Agarkar in the 44th over. Quick wickets Andy Bichel, the new man failed to last at the crease and was run out at 1 by Balaji. Ian Harvey looked all set to put up some more runs but he was caught by Tendulkar, again off an Agarkar delivery in the 49th over. Brad Williams, the new man at the crease again fell prey to Agarkar, caught by Yuvraj Singh. The Aussies were bowled out at 288 with nine balls to spare. Settling scores Meanwhile, India are looking to set the record straight against Australia after a poor 2003 when they lost to Australia 5 times out of 6 matches including the World Cup final. The most recent India-Australia clash saw the world champions win over India in their backyard in the TVS Cup tri-series final in Kolkata. The man of the match at that time was Michael Clarke for his all round effort of 44 not out and 2 wickets. Clarke has been billed as one of the future prospects for Australia and will be a contender for a Test spot as well after the vacancy created by Steve Waugh. Teams India are a 16 man squad with 8 batsmen, a wicket keeper, an all rounder and 6 bowlers. The new players who were not part of the Test series are Hemang Badani, Yuvraj Singh, Rohan Gavaskar and Sanjay Bangar. Australia have had a lot of changes. Michael Clarke and Michael Bevan are back as are Ian Harvey and Andrew Symonds. While Brad Hogg is the only spinner in the side, Nathan Bracken was part of the 14-member Aussie team but will miss the first one dayer because of injury. For the opening match India have Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj Singh, Sanjay Bangar, Ajit Agarkar, Irfan Pathan, Anil Kumble and L Balaji. And Australia have Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden, Ricky Ponting, Damien Martyn, Michael Bevan, Andy Symonds, Michael Clarke, Ian Harvey, J Gillespie, A Bichel, B Williams. Poor record India have won just 5 of the 24 matches they've played against Australia in Australia. The record in India and neutral venues is more evenly matched, but it's still in favour of Australia.
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