India vs Australia, 1st ODI: Highlights from the first innings
The first ODI between Australia and India has gotten off to an engrossing start. After winning the toss and opting to bat first, the hosts have amassed 288/5 from their 50 overs.
With the track at Sydney Cricket Ground expected to get slower and lower, Australia found themselves having the best use of the surface. However, they got off to the worst possible start as skipper Aaron Finch was castled by a terrific delivery from Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
Following the dismissal of wicket-keeper batsman Alex Carey at the hands of Kuldeep Yadav, Usman Khawaja and Shaun Marsh got together to repair the innings. The duo compiled patient half-centuries to drive the innings forward against some relentless spin bowling in the middle-overs.
However, India struck back by halting the progression of both Khawaja and Marsh. Sustained pressure from the seamers ensured that the Australian batsmen were up against it when the death overs began.
Peter Handscomb batted impressively and helped the hosts revert pressure on the Indian bowlers. He latched on to even the slightest of errors from Kuldeep. His rapid half-century played a key role in pushing the total close to the 290-run mark.
Here are six of the most interesting passages of play from Australia's innings at the SCG.
#6 Bhuvneshwar hounds Finch's forward press
Finch is very much the prototype modern-day Australian batsman. Having accustomed to playing on benign pitches, he has attuned his forward press to aid hitting through the line and on the rise.
However, after his technique was exposed by the Indian seamers during the Test series, Finch was undone again by his forward press against the new ball. Planting his front foot forward, he left himself no chance against a special delivery from Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
The ball pitched on a good length, hit the seam and jagged back sharply to rattle the stumps. Bhuvneshwar could not have unfurled a better ball for his 100th ODI scalp.
#5 Kuldeep sets up Carey
Introduced into the attack during the tenth over, Kuldeep did not take long before making an impact. He got into the groove by tossing the ball up generously and enticed Carey with his loop. When he dragged his length back, the left-hander punished him by cutting it past point.
In the fifth delivery of his first over, Kuldeep sent it quicker and flatter. Although the length was similar to the preceding boundary, his trajectory meant that the batsman did not have any room to cut. Carey's sharp edge was gobbled up by Rohit Sharma at first slip.
#4 Khawaja and Marsh knuckle down against spin
Joining together at 41/2, Khawaja and Shaun Marsh resuscitated Australia's innings by building an able partnership. Their technique and temperament against spin were put to the sword as skipper Virat Kohli searched for control through Kuldeep and Ravindra Jadeja.
With even Ambati Rayudu's part-time off-spin coming into play, both batsmen initially found the going tough as the Indians took pace off the ball. However, as they got themselves acquainted with the surface, the two left-handers manoeuvred the strike better and manipulated the field by using exemplary wrist-work.
#3 Handscomb shows his wares
Handscomb had a torrid time in the Test series against India's fast bowlers. His technique of hanging on to the back foot deep inside the crease was publicly ridiculed by many former players. However, the 27-year-old found his rhythm with a change in format.
With the platform set by Khawaja and Marsh, Handscomb had some time to play himself in. But he kept the scoreboard ticking by finding the gaps and rotating the strike. When the death overs kicked off, the right-hander hit another gear by smacking two sixes off Kuldeep.
Handscomb's charge was cut short by Bhuvneshwar. However, his 61-ball 73 had injected impetus to the innings.
#2 Shami auditions for a permanent ODI spot
Possessing a strike-rate of 28.1 and average of 26.05 (prior to this game), it remains a mystery how Mohammed Shami has been in and out of the ODI team. Having bowled at consistent speeds in the Test series, the 28-year old pacer produced an impressive display at the SCG.
Although he went wicket-less, Shami conceded just 46 runs despite bowling quite a few overs in the toughest phase of the innings. From the 39th and 41st overs of the innings, he gave away only six runs combined.
Returning for his third spell, Shami impressed by either finding the blockhole or hitting the deck hard. With the World Cup looming large, the pacer's immaculate grasp over the required lengths should push his case for a more regular spot in the ODI team.
#1 Dhoni sets the field for Bhuvneshwar
Despite relinquishing the leadership duties to incumbent Virat Kohli, Dhoni can often be seen adjusting the fields. The former skipper was at it again during the death overs.
With Kohli positioning himself in the off-side boundary, Dhoni guided Bhuvneshwar by setting the field and explaining the lengths needed against the run-seeking Australian batsmen. In the very last over, the wicket-keeper and the seamer were spotted having a keen discussion regarding the strategies required.