Australia’s bowlers put on a clinical performance to bundle out India for 255, before David Warner and Aaron Finch blitzed unbeaten centuries to take their team to a 10-wicket win in the three-match series opener at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.
Australia’s pace pack, comprising Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Kane Richardson, made life hard for India with wickets at regular intervals, complemented efficiently by the spinners Ashton Agar and Adam Zampa. It allowed the visitors to claw back from a strong Indian start, as the hosts crumbled from 134/1 in the 28th over to 255 all-out on the first ball of the the 50th.
In reply, Australia were barely challenged, as India’s bowlers had a collective off day. Even Jasprit Bumrah, the top-ranked bowler in MRF Tyres ICC ODI Rankings, was off track with his lines and lengths, as Finch and Warner razed to a 258-run unbroken stand for the first wicket. It was a record stand against India, bettering George Bailey and Steve Smith’s 242-run stand for the third wicket in Perth in 2016. Warner also became the fastest Australian to 5000 ODI runs during his unbeaten 128, getting to the landmark in his 115th innings. Only Hashim Amla (101 innings), and Virat Kohli and Viv Richards (114 each) have gotten there sooner. Finch, who was the more sedate of the two, finished not out on 110.
Warner didn’t begin in the same mood that he finished in, however. Taking his time to settle in, he made just six runs off the first 15 balls he faced. By then, he had also successfully availed a review, after being given out caught behind to a shortish ball that was heading down the leg side.
By the time Warner had struck his first boundary, off Bumrah, which took him into double figures, Finch had already moved to 27. But thereafter, Warner took over the scoring, so much that he beat his captain to the half-century mark, raising it off his 40th ball.
Shardul Thakur, the same bowler against whom Warner had been adjudged caught behind, was the first to bear the brunt, getting dispatched for two fours and a six in the eighth over. With Finch keeping his stream of boundaries steady as well, Australia zoomed away to 84/0 in the first Powerplay.
Finch got to his fifty one over after Warner did, but Warner continued to progress imperiously. He availed a second review successfully, when he was trapped in front of the stumps, attempting to paddle Ravindra Jadeja but procured an inside edge. A four off successive overs, off Kuldeep Yadav and Bumrah, thereafter, gave him his 18th hundred, which he celebrated in trademark Warner fashion, leaping into the air and soaking in the applause of an appreciative Mumbai crowd.
Finch moved into the 90s with a six off Kuldeep, and three overs later, moved into three figures with a sweep fine on the leg side off Jadeja. Having already moved within touching distance of the target by then, the two saw their team through with 74 balls to spare.
India had similarly started strongly, despite the loss of Rohit Sharma for 10, with Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul buckling down for a 121-run second-wicket stand. The presence of all three top-order batsmen meant that Kohli pushed himself down to No.4, only the second time he has batted from that position in ODI cricket since October 2015.
That happened when Rahul chipped a fuller ball from Agar straight into the hands of Steve Smith at cover. Dhawan followed suit next over, closing the face to a slower ball from Cummins to give a leading edge to Agar at mid-off.
With two set batsmen gone, the onus was on Kohli and Shreyas Iyer to rebuild for India. The Indian captain dispatched the first ball of the 32nd over, a short one from Adam Zampa, over deep backward square leg, but drilled the ball straight into the hands of the bowler, who took a brilliant reflex catch in front of his face, when he pitched it up to the batsman next ball. It was the fourth time Zampa had dismissed Kohli in ODIs, an Australian record the leg-spinner now shares with Jhye Richardson.
Fastest to 5000 ODI runs:— ICC (@ICC) January 14, 2020
1️⃣ Hashim Amla (101 innings)
2️⃣= Viv Richards, Virat Kohli (114 innings)
4️⃣ DAVID WARNER (115 innings)
What a player the Australia opener is 💪#INDvAUS pic.twitter.com/3VcnexrRo8
Rishabh Pant and Ravindra Jadeja briefly gave India hope with handy cameos of 28 and 25 respectively, but Australia kept the pressure on by picking up wickets regularly. Pant was dismissed off a short ball from Cummins that struck the helmet after taking the top edge, before lobbing towards point. Not only did it cost Pant his wicket, it also gave him a concussion that kept him out of the chase as Rahul donned the gloves.
Starc was Australia’s most successful bowler, with 3-56. Cummins and Richardson took two each and both maintained impeccable economy rates, while Zampa and Agar picked up two wickets for 109 runs between them.
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