India opened their cricket tri-series campaign on a disappointing note as they slumped to a 65-run defeat against Australia, who yet again exposed the batting chinks of the visitors in a rain-truncated encounter, here on Sunday.
Australia recovered from a few early jolts to score 216 for five in their 32 overs and then bundled out the visitors for 151 in 29.4 overs at the flood-lit MCG.
The Indians dropped out of form Virender Sehwag from the team but the batting woes, that has plagued the side right through the Test series, continued to haunt them in the first match of the tr-series.
Some of the batsmen got good start but could not translate them into big scores.
India were never in the chase and but for young guns Virat Kohli (31) and Rohit Sharma (21) and their 51-run third wicket stand, India’s top order collapsed in a heap to Australian pacemen.
Clint McKay was the most destructive home bowler, taking four wickets for just 20 runs while Mitchell Starc (2/33) and spinner Xavier Doherty (2/36) claimed two wickets each.
It was left-arm paceman Starc who struck early with the scalps of openers Sachin Tendulkar (2) and Gautam Gambhir (5) in his first spell. Bowling full and with the same venom as in Tests, Starc and his new ball partner Ryan Harris came hard at the Indians first up.
Tendulkar was the first one to leave, driving away from his body and being caught brilliantly by a diving Ricky Ponting at point region. Gambhir departed in his now customary fashion, edging a catch behind the stumps to Matthew Wade.
Kohli and Sharma were undeterred and gave glimpses of their promise against a hostile opponent. Both flashed their bats hard and were not afraid to come out of their crease.
They had raised 51 runs off 47 balls when Clint McKay, on his first four balls in the match, sent them packing.Spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravinder Jadeja suffered most from this onslaught. While Ashwin conceded 48 runs from his five overs, Jadeja went for 41 from his 2.4 overs.
The final over of Australian innings was dramatic.
Leg-spinner Rahul Sharma had bowled two balls before umpires realized he had already bowled his quota of six overs. Only two could have bowled seven overs and Praveen Kumar and Vinay Kumar had already done so.
Sharma was instantly removed and the remaining four balls of the innings was sent down by Jadeja?off which he was smashed for two sixes by David Hussey.
At the start, Australian openers were tentative after Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss and opted to field in overcast conditions.
The two Kumars, Praveen and Vinay, were spot on with their line and length and pressure gradually started to mount on the openers who were unable to break the shackles.
Warner, usually explosive, had done no better than score 6 off 14 balls when he tried an ugly hoick off Vinay Kumar and an incoming delivery knocked his middle stump back.
Ponting, returning to fold after the Test series ended last month, showed rustiness in his 2 off 12 balls before he played a lifting delivery from Vinay Kumar into the hands of short extra-cover fielder, Suresh Raina.
Vinay Kumar was most impressive for India with 3 for 21 from his seven overs.