India start ODI series with a crushing loss to Australia
Vineet Sharma/Zeenews Sports
Melbourne: Australia beat India by a comprehensive margin of 65 runs after the batsmen lost the plot completely in the rain marred 32-over-a-side game.
Starting without the services of Virender Sehwag, the onus was on Sachin Tendulkar and Gautam Gambhir to give a fiery start and they fizzled out quickly, an act that was followed by a lot of other batsmen throughout the Indian innings.
The first ODI saw bowlers coming in with superb performances as Clint McKay claimed three scalps for the Australian outfit while Vinay Kumar got three of his own in the first part of the match.
However, it was the willow of debutant Matthew Wade (67*) Michael Hussey (45) and David Hussey (61*) that got the Aussies their first win of tri-series as they bludgeoned the visitors for sixes and boundaries at will.
Not learning from the past mistakes, the Indian batsmen were found uneasy against the clinical effort by the Australian bowlers and surrendered without a fight, failing to look like the ODI World Champions that they are supposed to be.
Losing wickets with clinical precision, the final nail in the coffin for the Indians was as early as the 22nd and 23rd over, where three middle order batsmen surrendered like school kids under pressure.
From there on, no comeback was possible, especially with the Oz camp in no mood to lose the momentum.
Ravichandran Ashwin was run out in the next over and the misery continued with Rahul Sharma being clean bowled as the scorecard read 123/8 (23.5 Ovs).
India were set a target of 217 runs (D/L) by a charged-up Australian outfit at the MCG. The game saw rain reduce the number of overs and the home team simply stepped-up the run-rate and made sixes and fours a regular feature.
The first ODI saw Vinay Kumar take three wickets to bolster his chances on the tour and he was on cue for most part of the game, a respite from his wayward performances earlier.
Australia, riding high on the flurry of runs scored in the last 12 overs, gave a steep total to chase as David Hussey (61*) became the wrecker-in-charge with a whirlwind half century. 19 runs came off the last over to end the Australian innings at 216/5.
Hussey brothers slammed sixes and fours, ran aggressively and put Dhoni’s men under pressure as the death overs approached. They took the total past 150 runs and the last 50 were scored in just 33 balls.
Rounds of Melbourne showers had thwarted the efforts to start play but the primary concern was the passing away of the water-laden cloud cover that was bucketing the ground. After a long pause, the D/L system was adopted and thankfully, there were no rain stops in the second half.
India captain MS Dhoni had won the toss and surprisingly elected to field first against Australia in the first ODI of the tri-series.
India made one change to the squad by resting opener Virender Sehwag. Team India was bolstered by the return of Sachin Tendulkar back into the ODI squad first time after the World Cup final as the visitors locked horns for dominance in the most popular format of the game.
None of the tricks up the sleeves of MS Dhoni worked and with a charged-up Sri Lanka too in the fray, making a comeback into the series would be a tough task for the Men in Blue.