Image courtesy of: The Express Tribune
Bailey and Finch gave Australia a 1-0 lead
Australia stand-in captain George Bailey and opening batsman Aaron Finch both recorded half-centuries as they helped the baggy greens draw first blood against India in Pune.
Bailey struck a fluid 85 and Finch smashed 72 as Australia went on to win the first ODI by a convincing margin of 72 runs.
Bailey won the toss and elected to bat first, which was not too much of a concern for India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who stated that he would have chosen to bowl first anyways.
However, Bailey looked to have made the right call early on as Australia’s opening pair of Finch and Phillip Hughes got off to a flying start.
Finch and Hughes ended up registering a 110-run partnership, during which Finch brought up his half-century, before spinner Ravindra Jadeja gave India their first breakthrough by dismissing Hughes.
Hughes scored 47 off 53 balls, which included five boundaries.
Finch did not last much longer as he was caught out off the bowling of Yuvraj Singh for 72 off 79 deliveries, which included eight boundaries and three sixes.
Despite most of Australia’s middle order batsmen failing to contribute, Bailey remained at the crease and kept the scoreboard ticking.
He soon passed his half-century and started to drastically increase the scoring rate.
However, as he was approaching nearer and nearer to his century, he lost his concentration and was caught out off the bowling of Ravichandran Ashwin for 85 off 82 balls, which included 10 boundaries.
Glenn Maxwell smashed 31 off 23 balls, which included one boundary and three maximums, while James Faulkner hammered 27 runs off 22 deliveries, which included two sixes, as Australia finished on 304 at the end of their 50 overs.
Ashwin and Singh were the pick of the Indian bowlers with two wickets apiece, while Jadeja, Vinay Kumar and Ishant Sharma all chipped in with one wicket each.
Chasing a mammoth total of 305, India got off to a shoddy start as opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan was caught behind off the bowling of Faulkner for just seven runs.
Dhawan’s opening partner Rohit Sharma was the next to go as he was caught out off the bowling of Shane Watson.
Sharma had steadied the Indian innings with his sensible knock of 42, which came off 47 balls, and included six boundaries.
A 71-run partnership between Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina brought India back into contention until Raina was dismissed for 39.
Raina’s dismissal led to a flurry of wickets as India went from 137/3 to 166/5.
Kohli was the only Indian batsman to surpass the half-century mark as he amassed 61 runs off 85 balls, which included six boundaries, before he was given out lbw.
Despite putting up a futile resistance, India’s lower order batsmen were simply no match for Australia’s pace bowlers.
India were eventually bowled out for 232, giving Australia a convincing 72-run win and a 1-0 lead in the seven-match series.
Faulkner was the most successful Australian bowler with three wickets, while Watson and Clint McKay both picked up two and Finch, Adam Voges and Mitchell Johnson all snapped up one wicket apiece.
Dhoni was disappointed with his side’s performance today, especially after they fought back to win the one-off Twenty20 International just a few days ago.
“The way we started we weren’t able to build partnerships,” he said. “We should have got closer. Was disappointed with the shot selection today. Once you are set its important to carry on. That’s what we talk about in this game. If you look at the wicket, with the time we started, it was definitely going to swing a bit, but we struggled a bit. We don’t have genuine fast bowlers, more swing bowlers, so we couldn’t generate the bounce that the other bowlers (Australia) did. The spinners did well, but when we finished off [the innings] we gave too much away. We had to hit the deck from the start. If you can dig it in, you get extra bounce. Spinners did well, but we have to consider the dew factor. We were in a decent position, and at one point the game was 50/50. it was important that the batsman carried on till the Powerplay. We have got the power the achieve that, but we played shots that were not really intended. That harmed us. It is important that when we chase we have to make solid partnerships. I think the most important period in a chase is between the 25th and 35th over, as you can’t lose any wickets then.”
Bailey, who was named Man of the Match, was pleased to have posted a score over 300 and praised his bowlers for restricting India by bowling them out.
“It was a fantastic all-round performance,” he said. “We spoke about that before the game. We had to do that right through the series, and get contributions regularly, if we wanted to beat India in this series. There were a couple of times India got on top, but to our bowlers credit, our bowlers found a way to fight back. Johnson has been really impressive over the last couple of months, and was impressive in England too. He definitely gave us a great start. Yeah, putting on 300 was really good and we had contributions right down the order. The 100-run stand set a great platform, and Maxwell provided great impetus in the middle, with Faulkner and the bowlers hitting well at the end. It was important to have even contributions through the order. We were looking at 300 from the start so it was important we started well. But it is going to be a bit of a war of attrition this series, so now on to the next one.”
The second ODI between India and Australia will take place on October 16 in Jaipur.