Electing to bat first, Australia piled up a mammoth 374-6 on the backs of Aaron Finch and Steve Smith’s centuries at the ODI match against India in Sydney on Friday night. India responded with 308-8 with Hardik Pandya’s 90 runs off 76 balls and Shikhar Dhawan’s half-century. Despite the Indian duo, Australia convincingly beat India by 66 runs in the first of the three-match ODI series. A cameo from Glenn Maxwell also helped propel Australia to victory.
Things didn’t seem to go well for India from the get-go. Australia won the toss and decided to bat first. Although a good IPL performance, Indian bowlers, barring Mohammed Shami, were all over the place. They were unable to take wickets up front and this became a crucial problem for the team.
Experts pointed out that not having a sixth bowling option hurt the team badly as Yuzvendra Chahal was expensive — conceding 89 runs with 1 wicket in the full quota of 10 overs. India looked rusty in the field as well. More than one occasion, skipper Virat Kohli was unhappy at his sides’ dismal fielding performance. Dropping catches and sloppy fielding cost Team India dearly.
With the bat, India got off to a dream start. Australian opening bowler Mitchell Starc gave away 20 runs in his very first over. Openers Shikhar and Mayank Agarwal continued their good IPL form. By the fifth over India reached 53-0 thanks to both of their attacking strokes. Aussie speedster Josh Hazelwood got Agarwal out with a short ball. Kohli walked in and looked set smashing 21 runs off 21 balls before he was also done by a short ball. However, two balls later, a bouncer from Hazlewood got Shreyas Iyer dismissed. It seemed like Indian batsmen’s short ball problem were returning to haunt them. India was 80-3 by the 10th over.
Coming in at fifth, KL Rahul’s stay at the crease was cut short by leggie Adam Zampa. A full toss got Rahul caught at cover. India had almost lost hope of winning the game but then Hardik walked in and joined by Dhawan, they steadied the ship, with the former notching up his fifty in just 31 balls while Dhawan brought up his half-century in 55 balls. There was a glimmer of hope but the run rate kept rising. With Pandya smashing boundaries, Dhawan was playing second fiddle, and his decision to take on Zampa cost him his wicket. Pandya did not stop. He took on the bowlers but Zampa, dismissed him, ending India’s hopes. Pandya recorded his best score in ODI cricket (90 runs of 76 balls). India managed to reach 308-8 in their 50 overs.
Earlier, Australian openers Finch and Warner got Australia off to a good start. They put up 156 runs in 28 overs. After Warner’s dismissal, Finch and Smith steadied the ship with Finch scoring 114 runs off 124 balls. Marcus Stoinis was out at the first ball. Glenn Maxwell’s 45 runs off 19 balls also added to India’s problems. Many remarked that Maxwell did not hit a single six in the IPL but hit his first six in the eighth ball he faced in the ODI — a complete 360-degree show from Maxwell.
A few days ago, Smith had mentioned in a press conference that he had “found his hands”. Many tried to speculate what he meant by it. Could it be form, could it be rhythm? Well, it turned out to be both. Smith smashed a magnificent 105 in just 62 balls, showcasing a wide variety of shots in his arsenal. Smith’s aggressive innings took India by surprise and by the time he was dismissed, the damage was already done.