Australia put behind their wretched form in ODIs to eke out a morale-boosting 34-run win in the first ODI of the three-match series at Sydney against India. Opting to bat first, the hosts were spurred on by half-centuries from Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh and Peter Handscomb and a late flourish from Marcus Stoinis, which took them to 288/5. Jhye Richardson and Jason Behrendorff then dented India's run-chase by reducing the visitors to 4/3 and even a 'Hitman' hundred could not give India a win. Here is our report card from the first ODI.
Just five ODIs old, Richardson had India on the mat in the fourth over when he sent back Virat Kohli and Ambati Rayudu in the space of two balls to reduce the visitors to 4/3. The Perth Scorchers seamer, who had enjoyed a pretty good Big Bash season until the Australia call-up came, was in good rhythm and had Kohli caught at square leg. He followed it up by trapping Rayudu in front as India lost the cream of their top order. He returned to dismiss Dinesh Karthik and Ravindra Jadeja in the death to make it his career best figures (4/26).
With wickets tumbling around him, Rohit Sharma, who had played out 17 dot balls before getting off the mark with a six, strung together a crucial stand with MS Dhoni and kept India in the game. The Mumbaikar, who has a stupendous record in the country in ODIs, once again stood tall amidst the ruins, cracking a 129-ball 133 to help India reach closer to the target. He couldn't take the visitors over the line but his knock is a massive positive for the Indians to take away.
In the absence of Mitchell Starc, Australia needed the left-arm seamer to peg India back early and Behrendorff did not disappoint, getting rid of Shikhar Dhawan with one that held its line. Behrendorff was tight upfront and in the company of a buoyant Richardson gave Australia one of their best bowling starts in recent times.
After a disastrous Test series and consequently being dropped from the side, Handscomb showed he had great character and a wide repertoire of shots up his sleeve. Just as Australia appeared to be losing direction in the final few overs, Handscomb, who had been content rotating the strike until then, played a few classy shots to give the hosts a sound boost. From 45 off 47 balls after the 43rd over, Handscomb made 28 in half the number of balls and egged Australia on to a good total.
It took just five balls for Kuldeep Yadav to strike as he got rid of Alex Carey, forcing an edge to the slip off a cut shot. Having picked up a five-for in his only innings in the Test series, at the very same venue, Kuldeep appeared to be in good form and bowled with great rhythm. He deceived Shaun Marsh with his flight and would have ended his 10-over spell with a great economy had Handscomb and Stoinis not bludgeoned him for one six each in a 14-run final over.
Stoinis came in ahead of Maxwell and was expected to give Australia a final flourish and a good total, given the platform they had, but he consumed quite a few balls early in his stay at the wicket. A few big hits, however, changed the complexion of his innings and he ended up with a 43-ball 47 that was further bettered by the wicket of Sharma with the ball late in the innings.
Khawaja looked in good touch, negotiating the seamers with caution and the spinners with fleet-footedness in an enterprising half-century. The anchor in this Australian middle-order, he stitched together a 92-run stand with Marsh before Ravindra Jadeja had him trapped in front off a sweep, perennially an unyielding shot for the Australian.
Despite concerns surrounding his Test form, Marsh was one of Australia's best ODI batsmen since 2018 with three hundreds in seven matches and an average nearly touching 60. The veteran middle-order batsman showed good form at Sydney, milking the bowlers around and ensuring a decent run rate was maintained. Just as he was required to up the ante, Marsh took on the wrong bowler — Yadav — and holed out for 54.
Jadeja was stringent with his lines and in the absence of Yuzvendra Chahal, gave Yadav some much needed company. He kept things tidy with his stump-to-stump bowling, removed a solid Khawaja and ended his 10-over spell with pretty good figures of 10-0-48-1. He couldn't help Sharma with the bat in an all-round role, though, in the absence of Hardik Pandya.
Dhoni came in with India tottering at 4/3 and immediately went into a shell, ensuring his end was impermeable. His first 35 balls yielded just six runs but in his next 61 balls, Dhoni added 45, importantly not giving his wicket away and aiding Sharma in keeping India in the game. He was dismissed soon after his half-century but that India were still in the game after 33 overs was perhaps because of Dhoni's ability to soak pressure and stay put.
The Indian seamer had sat through the Test series on the bench but showed little rust as he came out with the new white ball and removed Aaron Finch with a corker of an inswinger. He was tidy until the death overs when, as has been the case of late, he leaked runs. His last three overs cost 40 and undid his hard work early on.
Shami was tidy in his early overs, hitting a consistent length and line and tying up the Australian batsmen. His first six overs went for just 21 but Shami failed to be as effective at the death and gave away 19 in his final two overs. The seamer went wicketless but showed enough to suggest he could be persisted with till the end of the World Cup at least.
Carey was asked to open the batting alongside Aaron Finch and the additional responsibility seemed to have spurred him on as he looked assured and solid against the new ball. Carey played some crisp drives in his innings but froze at the first sight of spin, edging to Sharma at slip off Yadav. His 31-ball 24, though, was laden with promise and Australia might want to try him longer at the top.
Maxwell was wasted down the order at No 7, walking in with just a handful of balls left in the innings and doing his best to up the scoring rate. He was ineffective with the ball but Australia need to reassess his role with the bat in order to use him better in the limited-overs side.
On his much awaited ODI comeback, Siddle was virtually overshadowed by the Perth Scorchers fast bowling pair of Richardson and Behrendorff. Siddle gave away 48 runs in his eight overs and didn't look like he would break the budding stand between Sharma and Dhoni. He added the late wicket of Yadav to ensure he didn't end his comeback without a single wicket.
Lyon was ineffective despite the position India found themselves in early on and failed to put a leash on the scoring rate. His 10 overs cost 50 and once Sharma and Dhoni had settled into their grooves, the off-spinner was negotiated with little trouble. With Adam Zampa breathing down his neck, Lyon needs more influential performances to stay in the side.
The left-arm seamer was expected to lend some variety to India's pace attack but his tendency to leak far too many runs while taking less wickets seems to be haunting India now. Shami has stepped up and when Bumrah returns, Khaleel could find himself out of reckoning unless he manages to string together a few good performances.
Tagged as the finisher, Karthik had a monumental task when he came out to bat and consumed quite a few dot balls in his 21-ball 12. He failed to hit any boundaries and compounded the pressure on Sharma, who was settling into his Hitman mode. India need to see Karthik can come out and play the mini cameos that they sorely need from their finishers.
Rayudu had earned the backing of his skipper at No 4 after a good series against West Indies but came a cropper in his first innings in Australia on this tour. Richardson, who was steaming in after dismissing Virat Kohli, trapped Rayudu in front for a duck.
After having to cope with a long break following his omission from the Test squad, Dhawan returned to Australia for the ODI leg — a fantastic T20I series behind him — only to receive a brute of a delivery from Behrendorff first up. Trapped in front for a golden duck, Dhawan will hope to fire in the remaining two games.
The Australians seem to have found a queer way of dismissing the Indian skipper and once again laid out a leg-side trap for him. Richardson prized out the big fish by forcing a shot into the hands of the square0leg fielder, effectively denting India’s chase big time.
The Australian skipper had been super confident when he opted to bat first after winning the toss, but showed poor technique against Kumar's inswinger, leaving a gaping hole between bat and pad. He was cleaned up for six in the third over as his wretched form from the Tests resumed.
Rating chart: 10-9: Excellent, 8-7: Good, 6-5: Average, 4-3: Poor, 2-1: Very poor