Team India’s long wait to play international cricket did not get off to the greatest start as they went down by 66 runs in the 1st One Day International against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground. A fine hundred by Aussie skipper Aaron Finch along with an aggressive ton by Steven Smith propelled the hosts to a daunting total of 374 for 6, and despite the fiery start by the Indians with the bat, the target proved to be too steep in the end. Vital contributions from David Warner and Glenn Maxwell helped the side take a 1-0 lead in the three match series, with the second game taking place on Sunday, November 29.
Though Mitchell Starc struggled in the very first over that he bowled, and allowed Team India to stay abreast with the required run rate, Josh Hazlewood found hos form after an iffy start to reduce the Men in Blue to 80 for 3 after the first ten overs. The Virat Kohli led team had raced away to 50 off just 25 balls as the openers Shikhar Dhawwan and Mayank Agarwal took apart the new ball bowlers, who struggled for form and consistency upfront.
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However, Hazlewood, playing his first ODI since 2018, got into the groove soon after as he impressed with his improvisations, variations and pacey deliveries. He got Agarwal and Kohli with short balls that cramped up the batsmen for room after seeing them gear up for premeditated shots. He banged the ball into the body of the two Indian batsmen, to give Australia a couple of quick wickets to get them back into the game. Two balls after the departure of Kohli, India’s number four Shreyas Iyer left his bat to hang in the air as he tried to get out of the way of a fine bouncer. Wicket keeper Alex Carey made no mistake as he collected the ball straight off Iyer’s bat. KL Rahul too fell soon after the Men in Blue crossed 100, as he fell to a low full toss bowled by spinner Adam Zampa, to leave the side reeling.
It was Hardik Pandya and Dhawan who brought the team back into the game with a 128 run stand. They kept India well within touching distance of the asking rate, but the target of 375 proved too heavy in the end after the quick wickets upfront and the relatively long Indian tail. Oandya got to his 50 off just 31 balls, and was a treat to watch as he went after Zampa, taking him for two sixes and a four off the seven balls that he faced against him. He was also harsh on Glenn Maxwell, as Pandya smoked him for a four and two sixes, to reach his fifty in quick time.
The Baroda batsman kept the team in the hunt even after Dhawan departed for 74 in the 39th over. The left-hander chipped a Zampa delivery to Starc at mid-off to bring the Australians back into the game. Ravindra Jadeja, the new batsman, struggled to find momentum, which in turn increased the pressure on Pandya. He was eventually dismissed by Zampa as he looked to clear long-on just ten runs of what would have been a memorable ODI maiden hundred. Despite Mohammed Shami, Ravindra Jadeja and Navdeep Saini striking some big blows towards the end of the Indian innings, it was a little too late as the side huffed and puffed their way but eventually lost by 66 runs.
Earlier in the day, skipper Aaron Finch played an anchor’s innings, and he was perfectly aided by Steven Smith who got the third fastest ton by an Australian in the fornat to take the team over the 350-run mark. Finch scored 156 runs for the first wicket with David Warner, and then combined with Smith to pile on 108 for the second wicket. Warner too found his groove as he smashed 76 in 69 balls, before Glenn Maxwell smashed a fine cameo as Australia got 110 runs in the last ten overs of the innings.
The side had not got the best starts, however, as they failed to score runs against Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah, who were miserly and accurate with the new ball. The team had managed only 51 in the first 10 overs, but the openers did well to get the Australians back into the game as the spinners were introduced. The duo were harsh on Yuzvendra Chahal, as both Finch and Warner took him apart. They were also helped by the Indian team’s sloppy fielding, that dropped a number of catches, including that of Finch and Smith. The Indians got their first breakthrough as Shami dismissed Warner with a length delivery that induced a faint edge.
However, the dismissal brought little respite as Smith was at his most aggressive best. Despite the fall of Finch and Maxwell, Smith did not change his approach and looked a far cry for the reserved player that was seen in action in the recent Indian Premier League. It was Maxwell, however, who was the star of the show, as he swept and reverse swept the Indian spinners. He took 21 runs off a Chahal over, and another 15 off a Navdeep Saini over. His innings was eventually ended by Shami, who was the only bright spot in what was a miserable bowling performance by the Indian team.
Australia 374/6 in 50 overs (Aaron Finch 114, Steve Smith 105, David Warner 69, Glenn Maxwell 45; Mohammad Shami 3-59) beat India 308/8 in 50 overs (Hardik Pandya 90, Shikhar Dhawan 74; Adam Zampa 4-54, Josh Hazlewood 3-55) by 66 runs.