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India seal long-awaited victory

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Gautam Gambhir

Gautam Gambhir hits over the off side en route to a half-century which helped India finally claim a first victory on their tour of Australia

India finally claimed a first victory on their tour of Australia courtesy of an eight-wicket success that ensured the Twenty20 series ended 1-1.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men headed Down Under smarting after surrendering their status as the world’s best Test side in losing 4-0 against England last year.

But any hopes of climbing back up the rankings faded quickly as they lost by the same scoreline in the five-day contest.

That left the one-day legs - consisting of two Twenty20s and a triangular one-day international series against Sri Lanka as well as Australia - as the only opportunity to salvage anything.

India did not get off to the best start as they fell to a comprehensive 31-run defeat in the first 20-over encounter.

However, today was considerably more positive as Gautam Gambhir struck a half-century to follow up a solid all-round display in the field, which included four run-outs as the hosts were dismissed for 131.

After winning the toss and electing to bat, Australia captain George Bailey will have been confident of a good start given in-form David Warner was opening the innings.

But there were to be no fireworks as - having made eight - Warner pulled Praveen Kumar to Gambhir at deep square-leg.

Shaun Marsh, who managed only 17 runs in six innings in the Test series, failed to trouble the scorers, nicking Praveen through to Virender Sehwag, who juggled the catch at slip, allowing Dhoni to take the rebound.

Opener Aaron Finch, though, remained positive and looked particularly impressive through cover - only to be run out for 36 by Ravindra Jadeja, who then repeated the trick to send back Bailey.

David Hussey signalled his intent by launching Suresh Raina down the ground for a maximum, but was undone as Jadeja followed up his fine efforts in the field by having him caught and bowled for 24.

Matthew Wade, surprisingly dropped down the order after hitting 72 at the top of the innings in the first encounter, produced an impressive riposte, including a massive six over square-leg.

But Mitchell Marsh soon fell to Rahul Sharma, whose namesake, Rohit, then produced the game’s third run-out to dismiss the dangerous-looking Wade.

Vinay Kumar and Sharma removed Clint McKay and Brad Hogg in quick succession, with Xavier Doherty next to fall foul of a run-out, Raina doing the damage this time.

In reply, Sehwag started with typical aggression and, after striking two early boundaries, launched Doherty down the ground for six.

The excitement did not last too long, though, as the opener hit a Hogg full toss straight to Shaun Marsh at cover to depart for 23.

Gambhir bedded in thereafter as he and Virat Kohli mixed fine running with the odd boundary in a partnership of 54.

The latter fell for 31, edging Mitchell Marsh to Wade but Dhoni - with two fours in an 18-ball 21 - helped Gambhir seal victory with two balls to spare.