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Smith, Bailey muscle Australia home

Rohit sparkles with unbeaten 171 but India goes down by five wickets in high-scoring game at the WACA

Smith, Bailey muscle Australia home - Cricket News
Two records fell at the WACA in Perth on Tuesday (January 12) -- the highest score by a visiting batsman against Australia in Australia, and the highest successful chase by a team at the ground. While Rohit Sharma made a monumental 171 not out off 162 to eclipse the first one, Steven Smith and George Bailey put on a chasing masterclass to ensure Australia got the record that mattered, hunting down India’s sizeable 309 for 3 with five wickets in the bag and four deliveries to spare.

The result means Australia will go into the second One-Day International of the five-match series in Brisbane 1-0 up, a score-line that didn’t look likely when it had been reduced to 21 for 2 in the fifth over. Barinder Sran took out both Aaron Finch and David Warner to be the only one of three pace-bowling debutants who had a good game.

The other two – Joel Paris and Scott Boland – were taken to the cleaners by Rohit and Virat Kohli (91 off 97), but on a WACA pitch that made batting very easy once set, it was the Smith-Bailey alliance of 242 (223 balls) that trumped the Rohit-Kohli partnership of 207 (227 balls). Smith, the current captain, fell in the final over for 149 off 135, by a distance his highest ODI score. Bailey, the former skipper, made a serene 112 off 120.

Both Bailey and Smith survived testing initial moments, with some good fortune it must be said, but lots of mental toughness too. Bailey could have been gone for a first-ball blob, having gloved Sran down the legside into Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s gloves, but Richard Kettleborough was unmoved. Even with that setback, there was an energy and intensity to the Indians in the field, while the Australians seemed unnerved. There were several risky runs and close calls for run-outs, but once the initial jitters were weathered, Bailey and Smith settled down on a WACA surface that allowed the set batsman to do pretty much as he pleased – as the Indians had shown in the first innings.

After good opening spells by Sran and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Dhoni made the strange call of giving Rohit the ball in the 12th over. Bailey duly broke free with a six down the ground and the flutters were eased.

The advent of spin opened the floodgates for Australia. R Ashwin had returns of 9-0-68-2, showing just how much of a leveller cricket can be. Even those figures represented a comeback of sorts after his first six overs had gone for 54 runs.

It was finally Ashwin who provided the breakthrough India needed, having Bailey caught on the long-off boundary and following it up with Glenn Maxwell’s wicket. But by then, Australia needed only 37 off 38 balls with Smith still in control.

Smith’s century in this match made it two in as many matches against India, after the ton in the World Cup semifinal, which was the last time the two sides met in an ODI. He showed that his liking for the Indian attack – even if it was composed of different bowlers – had not diminished a whit. His fall was anti-climatic, out in the final over to give Sran a third wicket and debut figures of 3 for 56. He had done all the hard work, weathered the initial jitters, steered the chase with his trademark calm, and showed no abatement of his insatiable appetite for runs, but the win was a formality when he was out, even if it was the final over.

Victory was achieved with James Faulkner taking a single to long-on as Pakistan’s successful chase of 274 against Australia in 1987 was relegated to second place.

It had all seemed quite different at the innings break, with the Rohit-Kohli show putting India on seemingly safe ground. Rohit was in full flow from the start, and Kohli had a typically controlled-demolition quality to his knock. Both men showed classical one-day batsmanship of the modern kind, with breathtaking shots all around, beautiful to watch because of the timing and class, rather than just brute-force hitting.

The five-man pace attack Australia had gone in with didn’t bowl the right lengths or lines, over-using the short ball and allowing Rohit to capitalise smartly from the start. Early on, Rohit gave Paris a harsh initiation into international cricket by moving beautifully inside the line and sending the ball crashing over the mid-wicket fence.

Australia did have one moment of success with the short ball, when Josh Hazlewood had Shikhar Dhawan hooking off the front foot to be caught at fine-leg to end an opening stand of 36 in the seventh over. Kohli had a good platform and he made it count. Early on, he played a flick off Paris that purred to the midwicket fence and a push off Marsh that was to the left of mid-off, to the right of a straightish cover, and too good for either of them.

He fell against the run of play, driving Faulkner hard and straight, but finding Aaron Finch at the long-on fence in the 45th over. Dhoni stayed true to his pre-match words of a flexible batting order depending on the match situation to walk in at No. 4, followed by Ravindra Jadeja at five, and with Rohit also going over the boundary ropes regularly with almost baseball-style thwacks, the end overs were healthy for India.

Rohit’s was the most easy-on-the-eye knock of the day, a typical innings in that he made it big once set, but also atypical in its pacing. He didn’t take his time at the start and explode at the end, but maintained a more linear acceleration, raising 50 off 63, 100 off 122 and 150 off 155. Most impressive of all, he kept running hard till the end, while carrying his bat through.

He might have thought he had done enough to get his team off to a winning start. But someone forgot to pass on the memo to Bailey and Smith.

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