Despite Rohit’s obliterating century, India fail to chase 288, lose by 34 runs
Yet another top-order failure lay bare the middle and lower order inadequacies of the Indian batting line-up as Australia trumped over the men in blue by 34 runs in the opening One-day International encounter of the three-match series at the Sydney Cricket Ground, here on Saturday.
The only silver lining in India’s otherwise dismal batting display were blemishes of Rohit Sharma’s stellar century that gave the Indian fans some hope of chasing down 289. But the visitors were undone for just 254. It was Australia’s 1000th win in international cricket.
A four-wicket haul from youngster Jhye Richardson sporting the glorious retro uniform of the summer of 1985-86 with his compatriots, ushered the win for the Aussies. While the hosts paid tribute to the past with their attire, it was the infusion of fresh faces that set up the gritty win.
Chasing a total that looked slightly below par, India lost Shikhar Dhawan (0), Virat Kohli (3) and Ambati Rayudu (0) within the first four overs. Dhawan was Behrendorff’s first ODI victim, falling for a golden duck. Richardson was the most effective bowler in the Powerplay, dismissing Kohli and Rayudu in the same over.
Dhoni clicked over 10,000 runs for India in ODI cricket – the fifth player to do so – and given he averages close to 100 in the second innings when India win, his wicket was the just as valuable as Kohli’s.
So, when Behrendorff trapped Dhoni – whose 332 caps was equal to the entire Australia XI combined – the match swung back in favour of the hosts.
Rohit was all that stood in the way of the Australians and while he was at the crease, even with 109 needed off the final 10 overs, the game was still in the balance.
Sharma continued to find the boundary, reaching his 22nd century. But he was fast running out of partners, especially when Dinesh Karthik chopped on to Richardson, who had smartly pulled his length back. Sharma threw caution to the wind and went after the bowlers, but was ultimately dismissed by Stoinis after a couple of close calls.
Earlier, after Australia chose to bat, Bhuvneshwar Kumar drew first blood, dislodging Aaron Finch’s stumps in the third over. A series of partnerships, though, provided Finch’s side a base from which they could take off in the last 10 overs.
All of Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh and Peter Handscomb got half-centuries, before Marcus Stoinis overcame a slow start to provide the final flourish with 47* off 43 balls, lifting them to 288/5.
Opener Alex Carey and Khawaja added 33 runs for the second wicket, after which Marsh combined for a 92-run stand for the third wicket with Khawaja. The No.3 notched up an 81-ball 59 before Ravindra Jadeja trapped him lbw in the 29th over.
Marsh put a tough Test series behind him to make a vital 54 off 70, before falling to Kuldeep Yadav, while Handscomb had two sixes in his 61-ball 73. The duo added 63 runs together.
Stoinis accelerated beautifully, as 93 runs were added in the last 10 overs, and 59 from the last five.
Recalled batsmen Peter Handscomb (73 from 61 balls) and Usman Khawaja (59 from 81) top-scored for the hosts in their total of 5-288 before youngster Jhye Richardson (4-26) and debutant Jason Behrendorff (2-39) ripped apart India’s top order.