Mohali (Agencies): Finally it arrived. Like a long-awaited letter from a loved one. ODI runs for Suryakumar Yadav ahead of the World Cup might perhaps be India’s biggest positive in their five-wicket win over Australia in the first ODI in Mohali.
He hit 50, his highest score in 20 innings in the format, thus helping India successfully chase 277 after they had lost 4 for 43 in a tense period during the middle overs. And if Suryakumar’s return to form was a relief, Mohammed Shami’s second ODI five-for in the absence of Mohammed Siraj must have ended up providing a headache. Shami grabbed a career-best 5 for 51, including three off his last nine balls.
That aside, KL Rahul, the stand-in captain, continued easing back into international cricket with an undefeated 58, his third significant contribution in four innings since his comeback from injury. Rahul and Suryakumar added 60 soon when it appeared Adam Zampa was inspiring an Australian comeback, by triggering a mild middle-overs collapse that saw India go from 142 for 0 in the 22nd over overs to 185 for 4 by the 33rd. Both Gill and Gaikwad seemed to be batting with complete ease against both pace and spin.
They started with 43 off the first seven overs. Gaikwad got a life next over when Josh Inglis dropped him on 17, but that did not stop him from playing his shots. The punch for four to deep point turned out to be most productive for him as well as Gill. Seven off the eight fours from the two batters in the first ten overs came in the region from backward point to cover, even as Gill had also effortlessly pulled Marcus Stoinis for six over square leg in the fourth over. Gill attacked part-timer offspinner and debutant Matthew Short too, depositing him for four and six in the 14th over, with the latter hit raising his fifty off 37 balls and stretching his dream run in the format this year.
Gaikwad followed soon after, bringing up his maiden ODI fifty from 60 deliveries in the 18th over. But Zampa ended the fun by trapping Gaikwad for 71, before cleaning Gill up for 74 with one that skidded through. In between, Shreyas Iyer, whose fitness and form India would have been keen to test ahead of the World Cup, was run-out for 3 after a mix-up with Gill. Rahul, who had arrived after Gill’s dismissal, then joined hands with Ishan Kishan to briefly steady the innings, before an attempted ramp had Kishan caught behind off Pat Cummins for 18. Kishan had enjoyed some fortune when a forceful loft on 6 was put down by Zampa on the second ball of the 28th over, immediately after which he also dropped Rahul on 1 – this being a much simpler chance while grabbing it low.
But Rahul was only carrying forward his fortune from when he was on the field as wicketkeeper. Two successive fumbles from him possibly ended up being crucial in restricting Australia to 276. When Marnus Labuschagne attempted a reverse sweep off R Ashwin in the 33rd over, the ball tickled his bat to hit Rahul’s leg.
That happened only because Rahul missed the grab, but the ball ricocheted onto the stumps, and replays showed Labuschagne’s back leg was outside the crease. Labuschagne fell for 39, his dismissal ended a promising 45-run third-wicket stand.
Then in the 40th over, when Cameron Green on 31 seemed to be ticking after a slow start, he dabbed at a ball which Rahul failed to grab on the bounce. Trying to run off the misfield, Green and Inglis had a mix-up, and Suryakumar was close enough to grab a throw from deep third to effect a run-out at the bowler’s end. But before that, Shami had laid the foundation for India’s win already.
He first had Mitchell Marsh caught at wide slip in the first over, with a length ball that was angled in but straightened, and then cleaned Steven Smith up with his trademark upright seam that was also angled into the right-hander and flattened two stumps as Smith tried to loft uppishly. Shami also fashioned Australia’s death-overs collapse of 5 for 28, removing Stoinis after the latter had added 62 off 43 balls with Inglis. Stoinis swung across the line, but the ball came back in to shatter the stumps, before Short swung one straight to deep midwicket and Sean Abbott chopped one on off a slower delivery. Six of Australia’s top seven scored at least 29, but it was only David Warner who went past fifty.
Eventually, that made the difference, as four out of India’s top six scored a half-century, leaving India 1-0 up in the three-match series.