Combative fifties from Pandya, Dhoni lift India to 281
AUSTRALIA IN INDIA, 1ST ODICombative fifties from Pandya, Dhoni lift India to 281Cricbuzz Staff â¢ Dhoni and Hardik Pandya resurrected India with a 118-run stand Â© AFP
"It is a no-brainer," said the Indian skipper Virat Kohli at the toss, while electing to bat first at Chepauk on Sunday (September 17). As the innings started getting along, it seemed Australia had racked their brains well enough to come up with a plan against India on flat tracks. Riding on sharp, tidy lengths, Australia's new ball bowlers put th e Indian batsmen under the pump. However, a fifty partnership between Kedar Jadhav and MS Dhoni, and then combative fifties from the former skipper himself to couple with Hardik Pandya's pyrotechnics ensured India lifted themselves to 281 in the allotted fifty overs.
The second ball of the innings that Pat Cummins bowled at Rohit Sharma bore enough evidence that it was not going to be all about batting. The bounce and carry off the deck brought an immediate smile on the bowler's face and every time both Cummins and Nathan Coulter-Nile bent their backs, the ball zoomed past the shoulder of the bat. Just 10 runs off the first three overs ensured that the boundary-loving India openers were made to think, and when Ajinkya Rahane missed out on a free-hit ball, Coulter-Nile, cunningly, altered the length to get him caught behind off the next ball. India were one down, in no time.
While Australia could have had their next wicket in the form of Rohit, a rare, silly drop from Steven Smith at second slip ensured the opener lived long to fight another day. However, Kohli wasn't lucky, in fact was far from it when his airy square drive was intercepted by a flying Glenn Maxwell at point, who went one hand up and a few feet off the ground to come back safely with the ball. India lost their captain, for a duck. One ball later, Manish Pandey, preferred over KL Rahul as No. 4, nicked a full ball to the 'keeper and the hosts went crashing to 11 for 3.
Jadhav walked in ahead of Dhoni and started off positively with a couple of fours in as many overs. Rohit and Jadhav kept picking the singles and put the odd bad ball away to the fence, but the momentum lay with the tourists throughout the partnership. It was only when the Rohit-Jadhav stand had crossed the 50-run mark that the Aussies started to break a sweat.
Marcus Stoinis's introduction to the attack worked almost immediately as his nippy short ball got the better of Roh it, with the miscued pull landing safely in the hands of the fielder in the deep. Jadhav, however, continued to bat with lazy fluency, before almost turning his back on Dhoni. On an attempted single in the 22nd over, Dhoni had to return from the halfway mark, only to be revived by a poor throw from debutant Hilton Cartwright. A rare glance of anguish from the former skipper was followed by a lame pull shot from Jadhav. Stoinis's short ball seemed to stop on Jadhav as his miscued pull went straight to short mid-wicket.
It was not the first time that Dhoni found himself in such a position, certainly not if one's memory is jogged back to the recently concluded Sri Lanka ODIs too. Pandya was quick to showcase his skills when he played the Tendulkar-esque glide for four off a short ball from Stoinis. He was up and running, and with some positive running between the wickets too helped as the duo brought up the second fifty-plus stand of the innings.
With the run- rate needing a facelift, Australia threw a carrot in front of Hardik by bringing back the leg spin of Adam Zampa. However, Pandya gave him the stick hitting three consecutive sixes to bring up his third fifty in ODIs. The 24-run 37th over opened the floodgates as he plundered 25 more runs in the next three overs. Zampa, though, had the last laugh as a miscued slog sweep brought about Pandya's end after a 66-ball 83.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Dhoni's latest partner-in-crime , got into the act with a few boundaries early in his innings. A single in the 47th over got Dhoni yet another fifty in ODIs, before he unleashed his ruthless self against James Faulkner, picking him for two fours and a six. Dhoni went on to torment Faulkner with a four and a six in the final over too, before falling in an attempt to clear the ropes for the seventh time. India finished with 281, a total that looked distant if not impossible when tottering at 11 for 3 at one stage.
Brief Scores: India 281/7 in 50 overs (Hardik Pandya 83, MS Dhoni 79; Nathan Coulter-Nile 3-44, Marcus Stoinis 2-54) vs Australia.Â© Cricbuzz TAGS