After making 309/3 on a batting-friendly WACA pitch at Perth, India lost to the Aussies by 5 wickets in the first of the five ODIs scheduled for their ongoing tour down under. Of all the players, Rohit Sharma must be the most disappointed man, whose unbeaten 171 went in vain as Steven Smith and George Bailey knocked the breath out of India’s bowlers with a 242-run third-wicket stand. Earlier, when Australia went after the 310-run chase, India’s brand-new ODI bowler, Barinder Sran began his career in great style by removing openers Aaron Finch and David Warner inside 5 overs as Australia tottered at 21/2. But Smith and Bailey settled down to score centuries and took their team to victory. The impressive Sran, however, cornered some glory in defeat by taking 3 out of 5 wickets that fell in Australia’s innings. The home side also fielded two debutants; Scott Boland and Joel Paris but they went wicket-less and proved costly on economy rate sharing 18 overs between them and yielding a combined 127 runs.
MS Dhoni won the toss and elected to bat first on an easy playing WACA pitch at Perth. From the first ball that he faced, Rohit Sharma gave indications of his intention, although support from his partner Shikhar Dhawan was missing. Dhawan departed in the 7th over after he attempted a desperate hook without finding enough room to make the shot. The short ball from Hazelwood climbed sharply and Dhawan’s effort only yielded a top-edge to Mitchell Marsh at long-leg. Rohit was joined by Virat Kohli and the two Indians batted through the next 38 overs. The unfortunate Kohli, however, fell at 91, when he hit Faulkner hard but was brilliantly caught by Finch at the long-on boundary. Regardless, Kohli had done his job in forking out a 207-run partnership with Rohit for the second wicket. Rohit carried on with different partners after Kohli’s departure and blasted three sixes in India’s score 61 in the last five overs. He stayed unbeaten on 171 and in the process surpassed Viv Richards’ 37-year old record of 153 not out as the highest ODI score in Australia against Australia. MS Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja made small contributions as India ended with 309/3 in 50 overs.
On a batting pitch at WACA, the target of 310 didn’t appear insurmountable for ICC’s ODI world champions. They have done it earlier and against India, it has always been easier because of lack of penetrating bowling. But they had never tested Barinder Saran, who making his debut. Dhoni tossed the ball to the left-arm speedster instead of Bhuvneshwar Kumar as Aaron Finch got ready. Sran looked good in the first over and yielded just 3 runs. Bhuvi Kumar also bowled a good first over before Sran came back for his second. His second ball cut into the right-handed Finch, who only managed to drag it past his off stump to collect a boundary off an inside edge. Of the next ball, Finch was gone. It was a fuller length ball even as Finch attempted to hit it, the bat twisted in his hand and the ball flew back to Sran. The young man hung on to it and the prized catch gave him his first ODI wicket. Sran was mobbed by his team-mates for a great start but more was yet to come. When sran came back for his third over, skipper Steven Smith faced the first three balls, last of which he swiveled to the long leg for a single. That brought the left hander David Warner in front of Sran. The Indian youngster bowled on Warner’s off stump and as the Australian went for a lofted shot over mid-off, he only managed to scoop it to Kohli, who completed an overhead catch. Another bout of mid-field celebration ensued. It was a dream start to Barinder Sran’s ODI career as he had taken 2 wickets in 2 consecutive overs. More importantly, he had provided India with a chance to restrict Australia.
As things turned out, that was the last time Indian fielders had a mid-pitch celebration because pretty soon, Steven Smith and George Bailey assumed control. The two accomplished batsmen managed to take Australia to safety with their controlled knocks. Dhoni tried many alternatives but none worked. Together Smith and Bailey produced a 242-run stand that brought their team to the verge of victory. When Bailey was out at 263, he had already finished a well-deserved 112 off 120 balls. Smith went on with other partners and yielded his wicket to Sran off the first ball of the 50th over. Australia now needed just 2 off 5 balls as Sran bowled a wide to tie the score. The winning run came from Faulkner, who punched the next ball to long-on. Australia won by 5 wickets and for scoring 149 off 135 balls and keeping his side on the winning course, Smith was named as the Player-of-the-Match.
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