Team India’s much-awaited comeback to international cricket after the coronavirus pandemic did not go as expected, as they slumped to a huge 66 run defeat against Australia in the first ODI at the Sydney Cricket Ground. After winning the toss, the Aussie skipper Aaron Finch opted to bat first, which proved to be the right decision as the flat track on offer made life miserable for the Indian seamers. The opening pair of Finch and David Warner got off to a flier as they piled 15o+ runs on the board, which laid the foundation for Steven Smith and Glenn Maxwell to take the team over the 350-run mark. Twin centuries from Finch and Steven Smith along with a quick cameo from Maxwell helped the Aussie team over the 350-run mark, and the Indians were never in the game after losing 4 quick wickets.
Here are the talking points from the game.
Brief scores: Australia 6 for 374 (Finch 114, Smith 105, Warner 69, Maxwell 45, Shami 3-59) beat India 8 for 308 (Pandya 90, Dhawan 74, Zampa 4-54, Hazlewood 3-55) by 66 runs
Should Manish Pandey have been dropped?
Manish Pandey has been a consistent performer for India in the One Day International format, even though the opportunities have been rare and few in between. In just 26 games that he has played since making his debut in 2015, the middle order player has scored one ton and two fifties at an average of just over 35, along with a strike rate of 91.96. It came as a surprise, then, when the batsman was left out of the XI in favour of Hardik Pandya, who is not likely to bowl in the next few months. Is Hardik the batsman better than Manish the batsman was the question doing the rounds ahead of the game, but the Baroda player answered all critics wrong as he smashed a quick 90, which means that Pandey might have to warm the benches for longer.
Navdeep Saini might not be the best bet as the third seamer
The fact that no Indian batsman in the top six bowls means that the side can only play five bowlers, which does not leave much room for error. On Friday, Navdeep Saini was all over the pacer as he conceded as many as 83 runs in his quota of overs, which further increased the pressure on the fast bowling duo of Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami. Saini also gave away a number of loose balls and slower deliveries, which allowed the openers Finch and Warner to race away with the game.
Mohammed Shami continues to impress
Shami was the best ODI bowler for India ahead of the series against Australia this year, and he did his figures no harm as he ended the first ODI with figures of 3 for 59. The Bengal pacer’s raw seam movement and his ability to move the ball both ways in all conditions makes him tough to navigate. He was also in exceptional form in the recently concluded Indian Premier League, where he troubled the players with his bouncers in the death overs, and the bowler would be hoping to carry on with his form in the next two games.
Hardik’s improvement as a batsman
Over the last few seasons, Hardik Pandya has been in sensational form in the IPL, winning games for his franchise Mumbai Indians on a regular basis. He has, however, not been able to replicate his form with the bat for the Men in Blue, but he put all queries to rest as he smashed a quick and crucial 90 to take his team close to the target of 375. Hardik, who is unable to bowl after injuring his back and undergoing surgery, was included in the XI over Manish Pandey, and little did he disappoint as he walked out to bat at the fall of the fourth wicket and played with maturity. He got his 50 in no time and stitched together a 1278-run stand with Shikhar Dhawan to give his team hopes of a miracle win.
Josh Hazlewood’s successful comeback
Josh Hazlewood was playing his first ODI since 2018, and he showed next to no signs of rustiness as he ended with figures of 3 for 55. Troubling the rivals with his pacey deliveries and improvisations, the fast bowler was a success even in the powerplay overs – a phase where he does not have the best record.