Cricket

All-round Australia overcome Rohit ton to take 1-0 lead


INDIAN PREMIER LEAGUE 2019

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Richardson’s superb bowling figures – 4 for 26 – helped Australia take the lead © Getty

A collective effort with the bat was complemented by a disciplined bowling performance as Australia took a 1-0 lead in the three-match ODI series against India with a 34-run win at the SCG on Saturday (January 12). Chasing 289, Rohit Sharma’s 129-ball 133 went in vain as a top-order collapse and a slow approach in the first half of their innings eventually cost India the game, with Jhye Richardson (4 for 26) being the pick of the Australian bowlers.

India’s chase was in disarray right at the start. Debutant Jason Behrendorff trapped Shikhar Dhawan in front for a golden duck and Richardson provided double delight by sending back Virat Kohli and Ambati Rayudu to reduce India to 4 for 3. Meanwhile, it took Rohit 18 deliveries to get off the mark, which he did when he put away a free-hit for a six off Behrendorff. That happened to be the only boundary scored in the first 10 overs, with India managing only 21 runs, as both MS Dhoni and Rohit struggled to rotate the strike against some tight bowling.

After going boundary-less for close to nine overs, something had to give in, and it did – Rohit dispatched a short delivery from Siddle over the ropes while Dhoni went over the mid-wicket boundary off Lyon, having played out a maiden earlier. Having dealt in mostly dots and some sixes, the first four of the innings came in the 21st over when Dhoni managed a wristy cut. More followed at regular intervals, along with good strike rotation as Rohit and Dhoni dealt with the situation in a smart manner. Rohit’s calculated scoop shot and his loft over mid-off against Behrendorff were a couple of examples of how well he toyed with the field placements while he also gave the charge to Lyon whenever he tossed the ball up.

Dhoni’s sedate approach in the 137-run stand, however, had an impact in the second half of the innings. Despite the partnership, Australia still had the upper hand as a wicket or two would mean more pressure on India with the required rate already rising steadily. And they got a lucky break when Dhoni was given out leg-before off Behrendorff – with replays revealing that the ball had pitched outside leg.

With Dinesh Karthik bowled by Richardson a short while later, it was more pressure on Rohit to keep India in the hunt. Even as he tried to keep the fight on with regular hits to and over the fence, he watched Ravindra Jadeja hand a catch at the deep to give Richardson his fourth wicket. The writing was on the wall when the opener got a top edge while trying to pull Marcus Stoinis, with Bhuvneshwar’s unbeaten 29 only ensuring that India weren’t bowled out.

Earlier, Australia rode on half-centuries from Peter Handscomb, Usman Khawaja and Shaun Marsh to finish with a strong total on a slowish pitch. Having lost their openers inside the first powerplay, a 92-run partnership between Khawaja and Marsh provided the base. But both batsmen fell soon after their fifties having scored at a strike rate of less than 80, which meant that Australia needed their power-hitters to flourish in the death overs. Peter Handscomb’s 61-ball 73 helped in that endeavour, as did Stoinis’s unbeaten 47, as Australia managed 93 in the last 10 overs.

The early wickets resulted in a slightly slow period for Australia with Khawaja and Marsh minimising the risks after the dismissals of Aaron Finch and Alex Carey. They did, however, take toll of the loose deliveries that were on offer every now and then. Things were going smoothly for the third wicket pair before the sweep proved to be Khawaja’s downfall as he fell shortly after bringing up his fifth ODI fifty, trapped in front by Jadeja.

While India sensed an avenue to sneak in a couple of more wickets, a positive half-century partnership between Marsh and Peter Handscomb ensured that the platform set by the previous stand was capitalised upon. Bhuvneshwar and Khaleel, in their return spells, conceded plenty of boundaries as Marsh registered his 13th ODI fifty before getting out to Kuldeep. Another period of lull followed, with the hosts going without a boundary for more than seven overs. But Handscomb and Stoinis combined to provide a positive finish with Bhuvneshwar proving to be expensive in the death – giving away 40 off the three overs he bowled after the 40th, including 18 off the final over.

Brief scores: Australia 288/5 in 50 overs (Peter Handscomb 73, Usman Khawaja 59, Shaun Marsh 54; Kuldeep Yadav 2-54) beat India 254/9 in 50 overs (Rohit Sharma 133, MS Dhoni 51; Jhye Richardson 4-26, Jason Behrendorff 2-39) by 34 runs.

© Cricbuzz

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