Veteran cricket journalist Ayaz Memon, or Cricketwallah as he is known, analyses the Perth ODI between India and Australia. Despite Rohit Sharma's blistering 171 after MS Dhoni opted to bat first, India ended up on the losing side, thanks to twin tons from George Bailey and Steve Smith. Australia won the match by five wickets with four balls to spare, but it was much more comfortable than the scoreline suggests.
In conversation with Firstpost's Vinayakk Mohanarangan, Ayaz gives his take on what went wrong for Dhoni and the brilliance of World Champions Australia. He also gives take on Shikhar Dhawan's precarious position in the side, Rohit Sharma's bad luck and the Indian spinners' struggles.
Responding to Dhawan's position in the team hanging by the thread, Ayaz said: "This is a very crucial tour for Shikhar Dhawan. He is actually walking on nails. This series is big for him and he knows it. He has had an extended run of very iffy form," Ayaz went on to say that he might be given one more chance but with Rahane waiting in the wings, another failure could mean a spell in the sidelines for the southpaw from Delhi.
Ayaz was also full of praise for Australia. "The biggest thing today was that the Australians showed today why they are the World Champions. Even on a placid Perth track, 310 was not an easy target to chase but they managed it with enough to spare."
Ahead of the second ODI, Ayaz said Dhoni's biggest worry is getting the bowling combination right, especially with the spinners being taken apart in Perth.
Firstpost's Game plan with Ayaz Memon will be streamed live on Periscope and on Firstpost's live blog at the end of each ODI of the series Down Under. Follow @FirstpostSports on Twitter for more details.
Match report: Smith, Bailey power Australia to five-wicket win
Perth: Skipper Steve Smith (149) and George Bailey (112) powered a difficult 310-run chase, nullifying Rohit Sharma's unbeaten 171, to help Australia register a commendable five-wicket victory over India in the first of the five-match One-Day International (ODI) series here on Tuesday.
Set a stiff target of 310 runs, Australia chased it down in 49.2 overs at the WACA Ground. India's cause was helped by opener Rohit Sharma who struck 163-ball 171 alongside Virat Kohli's 91 to take the team to 309/3 in 50 overs after opting to bat.
But some exceptional batting later on by skipper Steve Smith (149 off 135) and George Bailey (112 off 120) helped the hosts to post a 1-0 lead in the five-match ODI series.
En route to his fifth ODI century, Smith smashed 11 boundaries and two sixes while Bailey brought up his third hundred, smashing seven fours and two sixes.
Debutant pacer Barinder Sran (3/56) and Ravichandran Ashwin (2/68) were the only successful bowlers India. They were taken for runs by Bailey and Smith.
Chasing the huge total, Australia got off to a disappointing start by losing both their hard-hitting openers Aaron Finch (8) and David Warner (5) to pacer Sran inside the first five overs.
Finch was dismissed caught and bowled while Warner got himself caught by Kohli off Sran. Australia were 21/2 then.
Smith and Bailey came into the crease in a tough situation where they needed to score at a healthy pace to allow the required run-rate to stay within reach and also remaining mindful of not losing further wickets.
The experienced duo did it perfectly, piling on useful runs to build a strong platform.
Smith-Bailey produced a splendid 242-run partnership for the third wicket before Bailey was dismissed in the 42nd over to reduce the hosts at 263/3.
From there on Smith held on, using his experience, to get his side close to victory line before getting dismissed late in the match.
Earlier on in the day, winning the toss and electing to bat, the visitors got off to a comfortable start as both openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan (9) struck the ball positively right from the beginning.
But the hosts got the much needed and early breakthrough as Dhawan, trying to go for a hook, found himself caught at long leg by Mitchell Marsh. India were 36/1 in 6.4 overs then.
From there on it was a one-sided show by the visitors as incoming batsman Kohli and Rohit took the game to the next level by making batting look easy in front of a good crowd.
With three pacers, two medium pacers and an irregular spinner in their line-up, Australia were on the back foot as the right-handed pair kept on piling runs and inching closer to individual milestones.
Rohit brought up his ninth ODI century and the third against Australia in Australia in the 37th over to put his team in a commanding spot.
His partner Kohli also kept on scoring but fell agonisingly short of his century. Trying to up the ante in the slog overs, he was caught at long-on boundary by Aaron Finch off James Faulkner. India were 243/2 in 44.3 overs.
The two added 207 runs for the second wicket.
It was the eighth 200-plus run partnerships for India outside Asia after an unbeaten 201 between Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag against New Zealand in Hamilton in 2008-09.
The 207-run partnership between Rohit-Kohli was also the highest second wicket partnership for India against Australia after V.V.S. Laxman-Sachin Tendulkar (199) in Indore in March 2001.
With the dismissal kohli, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (18) scored a couple being out caught off the bowling of Faulkner. Ravindra Jadeja (10) remained unbeaten alongside Rohit.
First Published On : Jan 13, 2016 12:40 IST