James Faulkner (right) picked up three wickets in Australia s win over India in the first ODI © PTI

By Prakash Govindasreenivasan

Oct 13, 2013

George Bailey’s Australia fired the opening salvo in the seven-match One-Day International (ODI) series against India with 72-run win over India in the first game at Pune. With an all-round performance, the visitors took a 1-0 lead over the hosts.

After the batsmen had done a good job to post a total in excess of 300, the bowlers did exceptionally well to get the better of the strong Indian batting line-up. Mitchell Johnson (one for 38) provided a fired up start and the others followed suit to eke out a disciplined performance. James Faulkner (three for 47)  was the pick of the bowlers while the likes of Clint McKay (two for 36) and Shane Watson (two for 31) chipped in with valuable contributions to take their side to a win.

Johnson gave his skipper enough reasons to believe that this wicket had something for the team bowling second as he managed to bowl consistently at more than 150 kmph. Clint McKay, from the other end kept a tight line and length to not give away easy runs. Rohit Sharma broke the shackles after India’s slow start when he unleashed an exquisite square drive to score the first boundary of the innings. He then offers an outside chance and gets away in the next over when an outside edge just about manages to beat wicketkeeper Brad Haddin to run away to the third man boundary.

Bailey gave Johnson just three overs in the first spell and brought on Faulkner in his place. The right-arm pacer was welcomed with a boundary behind point by Shikhar Dhawan but Faulkner got one back immediately by sending him back to the pavilion off the very next delivery. It was a delivery that pitched on off and was going away from the left-hander who couldn’t stop himself from poking at it. The result was an edge that carried to Haddin behind the stumps. Faulkner was clearly pumped up and ended up poking the wicketkeeper in the eye in the post-wicket celebrations. Haddin struggled to recover from the mishap and a delivery later, he asked to leave the field. Phil Hughes took his place as Virat Kohli walked out to the middle at the fall of Dhawan’s wicket.

Rohit and Kohli began to build a partnership with the asking rate climbing with every passing over. The duo added 40 runs before Shane Watson accounted for Rohit’s wicket. It was a lazy attempt to cut a delivery that was too close to his body and an outside edge was take very well by the stand-in keeper Hughes to bring an end to another good start by Rohit. His knock of 42 from 47 deliveries was laced with six elegant boundaries. At this stage India were 66 for two in the 14th over.

Suresh Raina came to the middle and Bailey showed aggressive tactics by bringing back Johnson into the attack in the hope to trouble the southpaw with some short-pitched deliveries. This also brought along some banter between Johnson-Watson-Raina as the visitors were clearly looking to unsettle the dangerous southpaw. Raina and Kohli watched the ball carefully and rotated the strike but the boundaries were hard to come by. Bailey tried to push through a few overs and brought on left-arm slow bowler Adam Voges. Kohli saw the opportunity and picked up two boundaries.

The duo dug in and kept India in the race by not throwing their wicket away. They added 71 runs before Raina departed after his attempt to up the ante resulted in his down fall. He perished for 39 off 45 balls, bringing Yuvraj Singh into the middle with India needing 168 off 136 deliveries.

Yuvraj was a bit lucky to get away with a slightly mis-timed pull shot that travelled past the mid-wicekt boundary despite taking a top-edge off his bat. Johnson was back to test the left-hander with his pace and bounce. The move worked as Yuvraj, wary of playing on the back foot, ended up poking at a short delivery at 151 kmph to give stand-in keeper Hughes his second catch.

The wicket brought two wicketkeepers out to the middle as MS Dhoni walked out and Haddin returned after going off the field when Faulkner accidentally poked him in the eye.

Kohli, in the meantime, brought up his half-century. It was a kind of day when Kohli had to toil hard for his runs and had to play a matured role as the Australians were hardly giving anything away on the field.

However, Watson got the better of Kohli very soon, sending him back with 61 runs to his name. Watson, who was bowling a lot of short deliveries to the Delhi lad, mixed up his length and reaped the reward. Kohli tried to turn a length delivery on the leg side but failed to connect and was given out leg before wicket. Australia had reasons to believe that they might just draw first blood in the series.

MS Dhoni was joined by Ravindra Jadeja with India still needing 139 off just 92 balls. The Australian bowlers stepped up the heat on the Indian batsmen by dishing out a lot of variety coupled with good line and length to stifle the two batsmen at the wicket.

Even as the duo opted for the powerplay in the 35th over, India’s asking rate was still on the ascendancy. The pressure was clearly telling on both the batsmen as Jadeja was dismissed in the 40th over when he tried to pull a short delivery from Faulkner and had to walk back after Bailey took a good forward-diving catch.

India’s chase was virtually brought to an end in the 41st over when McKay squared up Dhoni with a ball that pitched on middle and off and left Dhoni to go on to hit the off-stump.

A couple of overs later Ashwin was on his way back to the pavilion with the visitors just two wickets away from drawing first blood in the seven-match series.

Adam Voges and Aaron Finch picked up the final two wickets to leave India 72 runs short of the Australian total.

Brief scores:

Australia 304 for 8 in 50 overs (Aaron Finch 72, George Bailey 85; Yuvraj Singh 2 for 34, Ravichandran Ashwin 2 for 55) beat India 232 in 49.4 overs (Rohit Sharma 42, Virat Kohli 61; James Faulkner 3 for 47, Shane Watson 2 for 31) by 72 runs. 

Man of the Match: George Bailey

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