Australia take first strike


Pune:
Australia put in a dominating performance, defeating India by 72 runs, to win the first ODI at the Maharashtra Cricket Association stadium here on Sunday.

Chasing 305 for victory, India lost Shikhar Dhawan (7) early, who was caught behind by Brad Haddin. Unfortunately for the keeper, the bowler James Faulkner (3/47) high-fived him in the eye. Haddin went down right away, got back to work after receiving some treatment, only to walk off later on. Phil Hughes donned the gloves, watching a 40-run partnership bloom between Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma. Shane Watson however, extracted an edge from the latter, as Hughes picked up the catch.

India 66/2.

A healthy 71-run partnership between Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina briefly put India on track. Kohli in particular played some delightful shots, driving and pulling with style. But once James Faulkner broke through this stand, Australia slowly began to establish control. Yuvraj Singh fell for 7, and Kohli (61) fell lbw, playing across to Shane Watson.

The hosts wouldn’t recover.

113 were needed from 60. But Mahendra Singh Dhoni can’t be summoned to engineer a rescue act all the time. Once he was bowled by Clint McKay, it was only a question of completing the formalities. The tail did resist, but it was too late.

Earlier, Australian skipper George Bailey won the toss and decided to bat first. Openers Phillip Hughes and Aaron Finch gave the hosts a good headache, adding 110 runs for the first wicket. Hughes had Virat Kohli to thank, after the latter dropped him on 32 at point. The left-hander would go on to make 47, before he fell to Ravindra Jadeja, caught at leg slip by Suresh Raina.

Yuvraj Singh then came in, to take a wicket off his first ball, with Shane Watson hitting the ball straight to Ravindra Jadeja at long on. Aaron Finch then hung around with George Bailey for a 33-run partnership, before ending up as Yuvraj’s second wicket.

Australia 146/3.

Man-of-the-Match Bailey (85) however was keen to keep the foot on the accelerator, and he thrived on the half-trackers being offered by Yuvraj. Adam Voges’ run out did bring about a bit of a wobble, but Glenn Maxwell joined his captain to restore stability. After a brief lull, Maxwell brought up his first six off Ashwin, before turning his attention to Vinay Kumar.

The right-hander smashed two sixes, punishing the right-armer for some pretty ordinary bowling, before hitting a careless shot straight into the hands of Rohit Sharma at cover. Brad Haddin (10) came in to strike two boundaries before, playing back to Ashwin. The leg before appeal was accepted, and Australia’s scorecard read 231/6.

Bailey went into fourth gear, hitting his tenth four, before being removed by Ashwin, when he took the aerial route. India then had trouble with the Australian tail, as James Faulkner (27) made merry. Mitchell Johnson and Clint McKay too cleared the fence, as the visitors registered a challenging total of 304/8.

It would be enough to help them take a 1-0 lead in the seven-match series.

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