Collective batting effort helps Australia to 288



Peter Handscomb top-scored with 73 off 61 balls. © Getty

Aaron Finch, the Australia skipper, stressed on the importance of rotating the strike in the middle overs and keep wickets in hand for the back end of the innings. And it largely went according to the script Finch had hoped for. Australia lost their openers inside the first powerplay but a 92-run partnership between Usman Khawaja and Shaun Marsh provided the base. 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 Marcus Stoinis’s unbeaten 47 as Australia managed 93 in the last 10 overs to finish with a competitive 288 for 5 on a pitch that was slightly on the slower side.

Bhuvneshwar bowled only four balls at Finch, but that was enough to do early damage as he alternated between targeting the stumps and the outside-off line, dismissing the Australia skipper for 6 with one that nipped back in. Having picked up his 100th ODI wicket, Bhuvneshwar continued with his accurate lines and kept the batsmen in check. Khaleel Ahmed, at the other end, did trouble the left-handed duo of Alex Carey and Usman Khawaja but a bit of indiscipline meant that Carey was able to manage a few boundaries.

Carey, opening in ODIs for the first time, looked set to establish himself in that position until he cut at a Kuldeep Yadav delivery that was too full and departed for 24. Mohammed Shami, bowling in tandem with Kuldeep, posed a few questions but he also pitched a few on the pads which were put away. Ravindra Jadeja then partnered Kuldeep as the spin pair tried to keep the Australian batsmen quiet. They did a decent job although the left-arm legspinner was guilty of bowling short a few times and was put away.

Khawaja and Shaun Marsh managed to keep the left-arm spin pair at an arm’s length and rebuilt the innings with minimum risk involved. Kohli tried to unsettle them by introducing off spin in the form of part-timer Ambati Rayudu but he ended up being expensive in his second over. Things were going smoothly for Australia’s third wicket pair who were looking set to raise a century stand. But 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 with Marsh bringing up his 13th ODI fifty in the process. But the introduction of Kuldeep pegged Australia back a bit as Marsh, in his attempt to take on the spinner, holed out in the deep.

The hosts went without a boundary for more than seven overs until Marcus Stoinis struck a six off Kuldeep in the 44th over, followed by a maximum for Handscomb which helped him bring up his fifty. While Handscomb departed after scoring a six off Bhuvneshwar, Stoinis provided the finishing touches, with two fours and two sixes in his 43-ball stay. Bhuvneshwar’s death bowling, meanwhile, came as a concern for India as he conceded 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, Bhuvneshwar Kumar 2-66) vs India.

© Cricbuzz


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