Rohit Sharma’s classy knock of 133 runs went in vain as Australia drew first blood in the ODI series by defeating India by 34 runs at Sydney on Saturday. The visitors had won only two of their previous 16 ODI’s at this venue against Australia and their poor record continued as Jhye Richardson inspired the hosts to victory in front of 38,000 odd fans at the SCG.
After winning the toss and electing to bat, Australia suffered an early blow as Bhuvneshwar Kumar got rid of skipper Aaron Finch for just 6.
Alex Carey and Usman Khawaja steadied the innings by adding 33 runs for the second wicket before Kuldeep Yadav broke through by getting the former caught at slip for 24.
Khawaja and Shaun Marsh then put on a 92 runs stand for the third wicket before the former perished to Ravindra Jadeja, LBW while attempting to sweep.
Veteran Marsh brought up his 13th ODI half-century off 65 balls. He also added 53 runs in 55 balls with Peter Handscomb for the fourth wicket before he became Kuldeep’s second victim in the 38th over.
Handscomb and Marcus Stoinis produced a late flurry of runs as India’s death bowling floundered without the ever reliable Jasprit Bumrah. Australia finished with a competitive total of 288 runs for 5 wickets in their alloted 50 overs.
Kuldeep Yadav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar claimed 2 wickets apiece while Jadeja bagged a solitary wicket and bowled his ten overs economically. Khaleel Ahmed had an off day as he ended with figures of 0/55 in his 8 overs.
Chasing a target of 289 runs, India’s chase started on a horror note as debutant Jason Behrendorff got Shikhar Dhawan out for a first ball duck. Young Jhye Richardson then broke the backbone of the Indian batting line up by claiming the wickets of Virat Kohli and Ambati Rayudu as the hosts were reduced to 4/3.
India, and MS Dhoni in particular, struggled to get going, and after ten overs, they had only managed 21 of the required 289 runs.
Sharma and Dhoni added 137 runs for the fourth wicket, before Behendroff got the vital breakthrough by getting the former Indian captain for 51 runs. It was a slow half century from Dhoni, who took 96 balls for his 51, but he was unlucky to be given out. However Rayudu had eaten up the review earlier, and Dhoni therefore had to walk back to the pavillion with India at 141/4.
Dinesh Karthik tried his best to provide support to Sharma, but the mounting rate saw him perish to Richardson for 12.
Sharma brought up his century off 110 balls, and with that equalled Sourav Ganguly’s record of 22 ODI centuries. Only Tendulkar and Kohli have more centuries than the Mumbai star, who kept India’s hopes alive with some clean hitting.
Australia seemed to have some issues with their fourth and fifth bowlers, with Peter Siddle proving expensive and Sharma targetting Marcus Stoinis.
That forced Finch to bring Jhye Richardson ahead of schedule, and he swung the game Australia’s way by getting rid of Jadeja and conceding just one run in the 45th over.
In the end, the pressure got to Sharma, who had also looked increasing tired as the game went on, with Stoinis claiming the wicket of Mumbai Indians skipper for a well made 133. With his wicket went India’s hopes of an unlikely victory.
Kumar hung around for a well made 29, but it was not enough as India went down by 34 runs, finishing with 254 for 9 in 50 overs.
Richardson was Australia’s best bowler as he finished with figures of 4/26, while Behrendroff and Stoinis claimed 2 wickets each.
The second one day international will be played at the Adelaide Oval on 15 January.