Gilchrist and Symonds hit out to overwhelm India

India 203; Australia 204-5 Australia win by five wickets
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The Independent Online

Adam Gilchrist and Andrew Symonds savaged India's bowling attack as Australia recovered from a poor start in Perth yesterday to record a five-wicket victory in a dress rehearsal for the upcoming VB Series final.

Symonds' 57-ball innings of 73 had helped to rescue Australia from a troublesome position of 37 for 3, at which stage the victory target of 204 had looked a long way off. So rapid was his scoring rate that Gilchrist, captaining Australia while Ricky Ponting took a one-match breather, was overshadowed in a partnership of 122.

Opening the innings, Gilchrist made batting look easy while his early partners found the going much tougher. Matthew Hayden (0), Damien Martyn (2) and Michael Clarke (2) all made early exits, with Ajit Agarkar picking up two wickets, but Gilchrist was in defiant mood and raced to a 33-ball half-century. By the time he was out his 75 runs had put victory in sight for Australia.

Irfan Pathan claimed the wickets of both Symonds, who went first, and Gilchrist, dismissed two overs later. But by the time of the chief protagonists' exits the match was effectively lost.

Simon Katich and Mike Hussey carried Australia home with 18 overs to spare.

Earlier, India had struggled against an Australian attack inspired by Brett Lee, who claimed the prized wickets of Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman in returning figures of 3 for 22 from 10 overs. Yuvraj Singh was India's top scorer with 47.

Australia will face India in the tournament's best-of-three-matches final on 6, 8 and 10 February.