Poor bowling, fielding and catching let India down as the Virat Kohli-led side lost by 66 runs against Australia in the opening ODI of the three-match series at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) on Friday (November 27).
Electing to bat first, Australia posted a mammoth 374/6 in 50 overs thanks to Steve Smith (105 off 66 balls) and captain Aaron Finch’s (114 off 124 balls) centuries. In reply, Hardik Pandya’s career-best 90 went in vain as the “Men in Blue” were kept to 308/8 in 50 overs.
“We got enough time to prepare, I don’t think there are any excuses on the field when you don’t pull up as a side. Probably the first long game we’ve played in a while, we’ve been playing T20 cricket. But having said that, we’ve all played a lot of ODI cricket. The body language after 25-26 overs was disappointing,” Kohli said after the loss.
A pitch that looked docile during the first half suddenly came to life in the second as Josh Hazlewood (3/55) bounced out the Indian top-order, including Kohli and a frightened Shreyas Iyer, who got himself into a tangle.
Pandya’s 76-ball 90 and a 128-run stand with senior opener Shikhar Dhawan (74 off 86 balls) delayed the inevitable but it was always a catch-up game after the team was reduced to 101/4 inside 14 overs.
Leg-spinner Adam Zampa (4/54 in 10 overs) dismissed Dhawan and Pandya in quick succession as India surrendered to scoreboard pressure.
Pandya, who hit seven fours and four sixes, carried his blazing IPL batting form into the first game of the series but it was his fast-medium bowling that Kohli missed on the day as he lacked options when Smith sent his regular bowlers on a leather-hunt.
India badly missed a sixth bowling option with none of their specialist batters good enough to roll their arms for even two to three overs.
It was a day when the bowling unit barring Mohammed Shami (3/59 in 10 overs) flopped badly and poor fielding only added to their woes.
As many as three sitters were dropped and numerous sloppy efforts on the field added to the misery.
The normally steady Yuzvendra Chahal (1/89 in 10 overs) earned the ignominy of worst figures by an Indian spinner and Jasprit Bumrah’s wretched ODI form (1/73 in 10 overs) continued.
India’s fastest bowler Navdeep Saini (1/83 in 10 overs) also struggled like any newcomer does, unable to hit the right length on Australian tracks.
Ravindra Jadeja (0/63 in 10 overs) wasn’t as costly as Chahal but since the past two and half months, his bowling has lacked sting.
India’s eternal nemesis Smith seems ready to torment them a lot in next two months if his 11 fours and four sixes were any indication on Friday. The right-hander hit the third fastest ODI hundred by an Australia, completing the three-figure mark off 62 balls.
Not for once was he troubled by the Indian bowlers, who were already under the pump after a 156-run opening stand between Finch and David Warner (69).
A lot of credit should go to Warner and Finch for the manner in which they attacked Chahal.
While Finch used his feet to smother the spin and play against the turn, Warner stayed back in the crease to hit Chahal with the turn, disturbing his line and length completely.
It helped as Smith and Maxwell (45 off 19 balls) had no problems in flaying the bowlers during the last 10 overs.
While chasing, Mitchell Starc’s wayward first over that cost 20 runs did give India the much required impetus at the onset but Hazlewood’s splendid short bowling saw the end of Mayank Agarwal (22 off 18 balls), Kohli (21 in 21 balls) leaving the visitors out of sorts in a jiffy.
Vice-captain KL Rahul (12) couldn’t keep down an innocuous full-toss from Zampa and India were in deep trouble even before 15 overs had ended.
A high percentage of dot balls (148) in the Indian innings also showed how only one team dominated the proceedings.
— BCCI (@BCCI) November 27, 2020
(With inputs from PTI)