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IND vs AUS: Don’t think there can be any excuses, says Virat Kohli

A disappointing return for the Men in Blue in international cricket as they suffer a 66-run defeat at the hands of Australia (AUS) in the first of the three-match ODIs at Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) on Friday. India (IND) were without the services of their key opener – Rohit Sharma – who has been scoring heavily in the limited-overs since the 2013 Champions Trophy, but missed out the series owing to an injury sustained in the Indian Premier League (IPL) in UAE prior to the tour of Australia.

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Being put to bowl first, India conceded 374 runs in 50 overs, with the trio of David Warner (69), Aaron Finch (114) and Steve Smith (105) scoring the chunk of runs for Australia followed by a brave knock from Glenn Maxwell who took on the rival attack with a 19-ball 45.

Among Indian bowlers, pacer Mohammed Shami (3/59) being the highest wicket-taker and grabbing the best figures. Navdeep Saini, Jasprit Bumrah, and Yuzvendra Chahal picked a wicket each while Ravindra Jadeja was wicket-less in his ten overs.

“Got enough time to prepare. Don’t think there can be any excuses. Probably the first long game we have played in a while, been playing T20 cricket. Probably that is something that can have an effect. Body language was not great after around 25 overs. if you don’t take your chances against a top-quality opposition they will make you pay,” Virat said in the post-match presentation.

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Mayank Agarwal (22, 18b) opened the innings alongside an in-form Shikhar Dhawan (74, 86b), and although the duo gave a fiery start to the chase and contributed 53 runs to the opening stand, the former’s departure resulted in the momentum being shifted in host’s favor. A few overs later, Australia managed to get the much-prized scalping of skipper Virat Kohli (21, 21b) and Shreyas Iyer (2,2b) in the tenth over, followed by the wicket of KL Rahul (12,15b) and the scorecard now reading 101/4 in 13.3 overs.

Hardik isn’t fit enough to bowl: Virat Kohli

Hardik Pandya (90, 76b) then forged a 128-run stand alongside Shikhar Dhawan for the fifth wicket that kept the Indian side in contention for the chase till leg-spinner Adam Zampa got the better of the former in the 39th over.

Although all-rounder Hardik has been scoring decently since IPL 2020, he hasn’t bowled an over in the last few months and competing as a pure batter. When asked for the same, Virat replied that the 27-year-old Surat born isn’t fit bowl overs; a luxury they are lacking at the moment.

“Unfortunately, Hardik is not fit enough to bowl, and we don’t have other all-round options to pick from either, someone like Stoinis or Maxwell. From the batting point of view, we had a chat briefly now. All the batsmen committed to it which is why you saw us playing with intent. I think we gave ourselves the best chance. Hardik’s innings was the best example of that. As a batting unit we committed nicely to positive cricket and we are going to do that in the future as well,” said Virat before signing off.

So far, Team India has mustered merely two wins in 18 ODIs played against Australia at SCG. With series 1-0 down in the ongoing series, Virat Kohli would aim to scrape a victory in the upcoming duel and get the momentum back in the Indian tent.

Both sides will lock horns in the next one-dayer on Sunday at SCG.

V Shashank
A cricket aficionado who has been following the game since the historic Ashes 2013-14. "People throw stones at you, you turn them into milestones." - Sachin Tendulkar


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