Saumojyoti S Choudhury
Bangalore, Feb 13 (PTI) Piyush Chawla and Harbhajan Singhspun India to a thumping 38-run win over Australia in theirfirst warm-up game of the Cricket World Cup here today.
Chawla (4/31) and Harbhajan (3/15) exploited theconditions to perfection and troubled all the Australianbatsmen on a turning track at Chinnaswamy Stadium to earn amorale boosting victory for India.
Earlier, Indian batsmen failed to live up to expectationsas they were bowled out for 214 in 44.3 overs after electingto bat. Senior batman Sachin Tendulkar and strike bowlerZaheer Khan did not play due to slight niggles.
Virender Sehwag top-scored with a 56-ball 54 while YusufPathan made a 39-ball 32. None of the other top-order batsmencould make substantial contribute.
Chasing a modest 215 for a win, Australia were cruisingat one stage on 118 for two before Chawla and Harbhajan cast aweb around Ricky Ponting''s men to bowl them out for 176 in37.5 overs in front of a packed crowd.
Surprise inclusion in the World Cup squad, Chawla provedhis critics wrong and brought India back into the match with adouble strike in consecutive deliveries in the 29th over andtook two wickets later to play a huge role in India''s victory.
The leg-spinner was a revelation today as he extractedbig turn from the track and varied his deliveries to unsettlethe Australians.
Ponting, who returned to competitive cricket after afinger injury lay-off, top-scored for Australia with ahard-earned 57 that came off 85 balls after opening duo ofShane Watson (33) and Tim Paine (37) had given them a flyingstart.
Apart from the trio, no other top-order Australianbatsmen could manage any significant score in the high-profilepractice match.
S Sreesanth was impressive among the Indian pacers as heextracted considerable amount of pace and bounce from thelively track.
India play their second warm-up game against New Zealandin Chennai on February 16.
Watson and Paine gave an aggressive start to Australia''srun chase. They showed scant respect to the Indian pace trioof Ashish Nehra, S Sreesanth and Munaf Patel as they struckboundaries at will to bring up the team''s 50 in 44 balls.
Watson was the more aggressive between the two openers ashe struck as many as seven fours during his 26-ball 33 runcameo before falling prey to Sreesanth.
He departed in search of one run too many. He tried toheave Sreesanth over mid-off but did not connect it well andan agile Chawla did the rest by taking a sharp running catch.
MORE PTI SSC PDS