Smashing return


Sydney, November 27

Hardik Pandya’s career-best score of 90 wasn’t good enough to compensate for a forgettable bowling effort as India slumped to a 66-run defeat against Australia in the first One-day International here today.

As the Indians returned to international duty after a break of close to nine months, their bowlers and fielders were below-par, giving away 374 runs in 50 overs. Aaron Finch (114 off 124 balls) and his illustrious predecessor Steve Smith (105 off 66 balls) hit contrasting 100s as they played their first home match since March 13.

A pitch that looked docile during the first half suddenly came to life when India batted as Josh Hazlewood (3/55) bounced out the Indian top-order, including Kohli and an intimidated Shreyas Iyer, who got himself into a tangle.

Pandya’s 76-ball 90 and a 128-run stand with opener Shikhar Dhawan (74 off 86 balls) delayed the inevitable but it was always a catch-up game after they were reduced to 101/4 inside 14 overs. Big-hearted leg-spinner Adam Zampa (4/54 in 10 overs) dismissed Dhawan and Pandya in quick succession as India surrendered to scoreboard pressure, finishing at 308/8 in 50 overs.

Pandya, who hit seven fours and four sixes, carried his blazing IPL batting form into the first game of the series but it was his fast-medium bowling that Kohli missed today as India ran out of options when Smith sent the regular bowlers on a leather-hunt. The bowling unit — barring Mohammed Shami (3/59) — flopped badly and poor fielding added to their woes. As many as three easy catches were dropped and numerous sloppy efforts on the field added to their misery. Yuzvendra Chahal’s figures of 1/89 in 10 overs are the worst-ever for an Indian spinner, while Jasprit Bumrah’s wretched ODI form (1/73 in 10 overs) continued.

Tormentor

If Smith’s 11 fours and four sixes today are any indication, Smith seems ready to torment them a lot over the next two months in the limited-overs and Test series. Not for once was he troubled by the Indian bowlers, who were already under pressure after a 156-run opening stand between Finch and David Warner (69).

A whirlwind 45 off 19 balls by Glenn Maxwell helped the home team add 103 runs in the last 9.2 overs.

In India’s chase, Mitchell Starc’s wayward first over cost 20 runs, giving India the impetus they needed, but Hazlewood’s splendid short bowling ended the innings of Mayank Agarwal (22 off 18 balls) and Kohli (21 in 21 balls), leaving the visitors in deep trouble.

A high number of dot balls — 148, ie nearly 50% of the innings — when Indian batted showed how Australia dominated the proceedings. — PTI



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