Vadodara: World champions Australia kept their cool in the last over to beat India by four runs in a thrilling one-dayer on Sunday.
The home team, chasing a daunting target of 293, slid to 201 for seven before a plucky eighth-wicket stand of 84 by Harbhajan Singh (49) and Praveen Kumar (40 not out) gave them hope in the opening game of the seven-match series.
India needed nine off the last over from Peter Siddle but the paceman bowled accurately, conceding just four runs and clean bowling Harbhajan.
“It was a pretty good performance until the last six or seven overs of the game,” said Australia captain Ricky Ponting at the prize-giving ceremony.
“It was a terrific game of cricket in the end and we would have been disappointed had we lost. They kept fighting till the last ball and Harbhajan got them really close.”
Earlier, Ponting (74), man of the match Michael Hussey (73), Tim Paine (50) and Cameron White (51) excelled in Australia’s innings of 292 for eight after the tourists chose to bat first.
Left-hander Gautam Gambhir hit 68 to boost India after Australia had removed Virender Sehwag (13) and Sachin Tendulkar (14) cheaply.
Explosive batsman Yuvraj Singh missed the game with a finger injury but Gambhir put on 64 with skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (34) for the fourth wicket to keep India in the contest.
All-rounder Mitchell Johnson then trapped Gambhir lbw with a yorker and caught and bowled Suresh Raina for nine.
Shane Watson followed up by having Dhoni caught at mid-on before Harbhajan and Praveen came together in a 57-ball stand that gave Australia a mighty scare, especially after clubbing Watson for 20 runs in the penultimate over.
The second game is in Nagpur on Wednesday.