Rohit's knock in vain, as Smith and Bailey power Australia to victory
Over-reliance on spin cost India dear as in their first away encounter of the year, they failed to defend a score in excess of 300.
Runs were scored in a hurry at the WACA ground in Perth, but Australia had the last laugh over India in their 1st ODI of the VB Series 2016- a game that saw two 200-run stands in the same game, a feat never achieved before in the history of ODI cricket.
Steven Smith’s 149 and George Bailey’s 112 overpowered Rohit Sharma’s 171* and Virat Kohli’s 91 to guide Australia to victory by 5 wickets.
The Rohit-Kohli show
Except the early departure of Shikhar Dhawan in the 7th over, the home side had pretty much nothing to cheer about for the whole of Indian innings, after being asked to field by the visitors, as Sharma and Kohli punished the rookie Australian attack, taking the debutants- Joel Paris and Scott Boland- and the regular ones in Mitchell Marsh, Josh Hazlewood and James Faulkner to the cleaners, and the Australian plan of going out with an all-pace attack seemed to be futile.
The man who holds the record for the highest ever individual ODI score seemed to have resumed from where he had left off in the World Cup quarter-final as he hit 7 gigantic sixes and 13 boundaries the most impressive of which was a hook off Paris early in the innings against a short ball on a flat WACA wicket.
While that shot set the tone, the 207-run stand between the Mumbai-Delhi duo for the second wicket substantiated on it in the best possible manner. The Indian vice-captain, en-route his 91, swiveled around to pull a six on the leg-side, a shot that brought up his half-century, as well as played the Kohli trademark shots- namely the cover drive, the flick off his pads and the inside-out shot over extra cover.
From the 8th to the 44th over, the Australian fielders could be seen jogging around watching the ball pass them by into the fence. Such was the timing that the Indian top-order displayed. Sharma completed his fifty in the 20th over off just 63 balls and took just 13 move overs to bring up his 100 while still striking at less than a-run-a-ball.
Carnage at the death
However, he then went into the berserk mode, as he always does after he completes his hundred, and started hitting the ball at will, in a phase that saw four of his seven sixes coming as well as his 1000th run against Australia, thereby becoming the fastest to achieve the feat- in 19 innings- beating the record previously held jointly by Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara who had done so in 20 innings.
The last five overs saw 63 runs being scored with Sharma breaking free, hoisting Boland for two sixes in the 48th over and one more in the final over. Amidst this carnage, Kohli fell in the 44th over, trying to put the team’s cause before his personal records as he launched James Faulkner over the leg-side, but found the fielder on the boundary.
The Indian captain, MS Dhoni walked in next and immediately pulled Faulkner for a boundary showing signs that he was in with a purpose. He hit one more six off the same bowler before Boland took a good catching galloping to his right to send the Indian skipper back.
Two wickets at the death didn’t help the Australian cause one bit, as Ravindra Jadeja, promoted to No. 5, immediately spanked a boundary, and with the centurion at the other end took India to 309/3.
Sran strikes, Smith-Bailey counter-attack
The destructive duo of Aaron Finch and David Warner was India’s first hurdle early on, but Brainder Sran made sure that his debut would go on to be a debut to remember as he sent back the Australian openers inside the 5th over.
Sran opened his career account with a return catch that he took in half a second, as Finch tried to drive the ball but found the left-arm bowler’s extended hands and then got Warner caught by Kohli at mid-on to put the home team on the back-foot.
That brought the captain Steve Smith and the former captain George Bailey to the crease who led the Australian fightback, by seeing off the new-ball bowlers first, and then milking the Indian spinners for easy singles and doubles to guide Australia to safety by the halfway stage at 139/2, with both the batsmen at the crease having already completed their fifties.
Ravichandran Ashwin was countered with the easiest of ease by the Australian duo, especially Bailey, who reverse swept the Indian ace spinner twice for a boundary, and after he had brought up his fifty in the 21st over took the attack to Ashwin by hitting him for a straight six in the 26th over, an over that also saw a boundary and another six by the Australian captain as well.
Australia run through
The second half though belonged entirely to Australia as Smith and Bailey strolled their way through the run chase with clinical centuries brought up with the right mixture of temperament and aggression. Singles were taken with the speed of light and with such a frequency that you’d miss one if you blinked an eye.
Bailey completed his hundred off 106 balls, and Smith bettered that with a century off just 97 balls. The duo shared a 242-run partnership for the third wicket thereby taking the game away from India.
The spinners, the pacers, the part-timers everyone was scored off as the Australian duo cruised their way, neutralising the Indian bowlers. Although Bailey was dismissed for 112 in the 41st over and Glenn Maxwell went cheaply in 44th but it was too late by then at the run rate had come down to under a run a ball.
Mitchell Marsh came in and along with his captain helped see his side home, as Smith continued his good run against the Indian bowlers through his knock of 149.
India: 309/3; Overs: 50
Australia: 310/5, 49.2 overs
|Steven Smith||149 (135)|
|Mitchell Marsh||12* (13)|
|James Faulkner||1* (1)|
Australia beat India by five wickets.