The much-awaited ODI series between India and Australia got underway with the first match at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai. Just like most other India-Australia matches, this one too was action-packed. The hosts were pegged back early, followed by a stupendous comeback to finish strong.
The rain too played its part and the DLS method had to be introduced to revise the target. Australia’s struggle against the spinners continued as they lost a game they could have won. Hardik Pandya and MS Dhoni were the scriptwriters for India’s tremendous victory as they went 1-0 up in the 5-match series.
A horrendous start for India
On a muggy day, Virat Kohli won the toss and had no doubts in opting to bat first. Australian pacers Pat Cummins and Nathan Coulter-Nile started with the perfect line just outside off and exploited the little swing that was available. The first 3 overs yielded just 10 runs and the pressure was applied on Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma.
Coulter-Nile was awarded for his consistency when Rahane edged one to the keeper in the 4th over and he had to walk back for just 5. Cummins too could have got Rohit out but the skipper Steve Smith dropped a not so difficult catch in the slips. But the sorrow didn’t last long as Coulter-Nile dismissed the big fish Kohli for a duck.
To make matters even worse for the hosts, the pacer went on to remove Manish Pandey for not. India were left tottering at 11/3 in the 6th over. They were shocked by the sheer pace and swing of the Aussies and had plenty to do from then on. The No.5 batsman Kedar Jadhav played a few strokes and alongside Rohit, took the score to 34/3 after 10 overs.
The duo added 53 runs for the 4th wicket until Rohit was sent back by Marcus Stoinis in the 16th over. MS Dhoni walked in at No.6 and tried to guide the innings but he was left alone by Jadhav who perished in the 22nd over for 40 as he became the 2nd victim of Stoinis. The hosts were deeper in trouble at 87/5 as Hardik Pandya came in to join Dhoni in the middle.
Dhoni and Pandya, slowly but surely, provided solidity to the innings. In the 33rd over, the fifty partnership was brought up with Pandya contributing the major part. The wicketkeeper-batsman guided the youngster who, in turn, kept the pressure off his senior partner. After 36 overs, India reached 148/5 and that’s when Pandya went ballistic.
He smashed the leg-spinner Adam Zampa for a boundary and 3 sixes in a row to collect 24 from the over and brought up his half-century from 48 balls. The charge continued as he went after Cummins, Faulkner and Stoinis in the subsequent overs. The right-hander smashed Zampa for another six but lost his wicket in the bid to clear the boundary again and went back for a superb 83 off 66 balls that included 5 fours and as many maximums.
All about Dhoni
India reached 205/6 after 41 overs and that’s when Dhoni took control of the proceedings. He found an able partner in Bhuvneshwar Kumar and the duo kept the hosts in the game. Dhoni reached his fifty off 75 balls in the 47th over and then went on the attack. He collected 2 fours and a six from Faulkner’s 48th and a four and a six from the last over.
Dhoni got out in the last over while looking to clear the fence and held out at the long-off boundary for 79 off 88 balls with 4 fours and 2 sixes. Bhuvneshwar too played a handy knock of 32 not out off 30 balls as India made a tremendous recovery to finish with 281/7 on the board.
As the innings ended, rain gods decided to interrupt and halted the game for a long time. After multiple rain interventions, the revised target for Australia was 164 from 21 overs as per the DLS method.
Jasprit Bumrah provided the perfect start by castling the debutant Hilton Cartwright for just 1. He then played a part in Steve Smith’s dismissal as well by fetching a breathtaking catch at fine-leg as Hardik Pandya came amongst the wickets. Pandya went on to remove Travis Head as well to leave the visitors struggling at 29/3 in the 7th over. Kuldeep Yadav got David Warner out caught behind for 25 in the 8th over to put Australia in stutters at 35/4.
Maxwell gave the scare
Just when things seemed like going completely in India’s favor, Glenn Maxwell went on the counter-attack. He repeated what Pandya did to Zampa and struck a four and 3 sixes in succession to gather 22 from the over.
He went after Yuzvendra Chahal as well in the next over by tonking him over deep mid-wicket. But in the hunt to go again, he mistimed one to long-on and had to make the long walk back for 39 off 18 balls. Kuldeep made a stunning comeback and dismissed Stoinis in the 13th over as the score reached 78/6.
Chahal picked up his second wicket in the form of Matthew Wade in the 16th over and then, the 3rd as well by sending Cummins back in the hut. Requiring 46 to win from the last 3 overs, James Faulkner played a few strokes but that turned out to be too little too late. Coulter-Nile fell in the penultimate over to Bhuvneshwar and the inevitable happened soon as India won the match by 26 runs.
India won the toss and opted to bat first
India: 281/7 in 50 overs
Hardik Pandya 83, MS Dhoni 79
Nathan Coulter-Nile 44/3, Marcus Stoinis 54/2
Australia: 137/9 in 21 overs
Glenn Maxwell 39, James Faulkner 32
Yuzvendra Chahal 30/3, Hardik Pandya 28/2
India won by 26 runs (by DLS method)
Australia’s target was revised to 164 from 21 overs as per DLS method due to rain
Player of the Match: Hardik Pandya