The three-match ODI series between India and Australia was billed to be a contest between two complete teams. On Tuesday, however, it seemed as if only one team turned up at the Wankhede Stadium as a near-perfect performance by Australia steamrolled over a hapless India.
If the Australian bowling unit put up a clinical performance to bowl India out for 255 with five balls remaining in its essay, the opening combination of captain Aaron Finch and David Warner raised the bar and made India’s bowling attack look listless. As a result, unbeaten hundreds by both the Aussie openers resulted in not only the highest opening partnership against India but Australia chasing down the highest target in India without losing a single wicket.
Early breakthroughs were important for India if it had to defend a below-par total but while the pacers erred in their lengths, Warner and Finch were at their finest. Finch, especially, creamed boundaries at will with virtually everything that was pitched full – and there were many with the Indian pace triumvirate of Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah and Shardul Thakur erring on the fuller side.
IND v AUS 1st ODI HIGHLIGHTS
Warner soon joined the party. After giving Bumrah and Shami the respect up front, he changed gears in the eighth over, with Shardul facing his brunt. A lofted cover drive and a flick to square leg were both mistimed but still crossed the boundary but a huge swat over midwicket later in the over sailed into the stands and gave Warner the confidence. Thakur again faced Warner’s wrath in his next over. A crisp cover drive and a classy cut meant Australia finished the powerplay at 84 for no loss.
With dew starting to play a role and Australia openers having turned ominous, the writing was on the wall for India. While India was unlucky with the review, the Aussie openers were saved thrice, thanks to its impressive use of DRS, thus resulting in a comprehensive 10-run victory, which was completed in only the 38th over.
Despite troubling the openers occasionally, the Indian bowlers never looked to put either Finch or Warner under pressure. In fact, the only passage of play that saw India in control throughout the day was during the 121-run partnership for the second wicket between Shikhar Dhawan and K.L. Rahul.
After being inserted into bat, Rohit Sharma – despite creaming Mitchell Starc for two sensational drives – succumbed to the left-arm pacer in the fifth over. Dhawan and Rahul, both of whom were included in the XI thus prompting captain Virat Kohli to No. 4, then saw off a threatening spell by Pat Cummins and Starc. Even after the spinners came on, the duo couldn’t really go after them, but still managed to keep the scoreboard flowing.
Just when the duo was set to accelerate, Rahul chipped the first ball of left-arm spinner Ashton Agar’s new spell straight to Steve Smith at cover. That started a mini-collapse for India as the home team lost four wickets for 29 runs in 35 balls. Dhawan (caught by Agar sprinting to his right at mid-off after the batsman had top-edged Cummins), Kohli (a full-blooded straight drive was caught excellently by leggie Adam Zampa on return) and Shreyas Iyer (caught behind playing away from his body off Starc) perished in a hurry to result in India falling way short of the 300-run mark.
The host has less than 71 hours to get its mojo back and level the series in Rajkot on Friday.
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