Clarke's fine performance leaves India second best

Australia 288 India 270 Australia win by 18 runs
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The Independent Online

Australia all-rounder Andrew Symonds heaped praise on rookie Michael Clarke after the duo helped guide Ricky Ponting's team to victory in the opening game of the VB Series.

Symonds scored 88 in the Aussies total of 289 before prising out Indian dangermen Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman as Sourav Ganguly's men subsided 18 runs short of Australia's total.

And Symonds was quick to point out that the 22-year-old Clarke - who made 63 and took four catches as well as picking up the wicket of Rahul Dravid - had played just as important a part in the Australian triumph.

"Michael is very mature ahead of his time and has an old head on his shoulders," said Symonds.

"As well as being a good batsman and a more-than-useful bowler, his fielding and throwing are excellent.

"So he is a very handy guy to have in the side, and he played a vital part in our win.

"The two of us came together when we were struggling a bit but we managed to put on a partnership of 141 to get us back in the driving seat."

India had appeared to be cruising towards victory after openers Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar got them off to a blistering start and skipper Ganguly looked in outstanding form.

But after Ganguly was run out for 83, the visitors collapsed as Australia again proved they are the force to be reckoned with in one-day cricket.

"It was pretty enjoyable batting out there," continued Symonds.

"The ball swung around a bit early on and I played and missed a few times, but apart from those incidents I would say that batting conditions were not too difficult.

"It was a close game, so to win it like that was great. I was proud to be able to get two class players like Tendulkar and Laxman out."

The Aussies now head for Sunday's day-nighter against Zimbabwe - the undoubted underdogs of the VB Series - full of confidence.

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