India strike first in rain-hit ODI opener

18 September 2017

Coulter-Nile on song in Aussie return but revised target of 164 from 21 overs proves too much after Pandya and Dhoni rescue act

India v Australia ODIs, First ODI


Australia's batsmen have stumbled in what effectively became a T20 run chase to go 1-0 down in their five-match ODI series against India.

Needing 164 from 21 overs after a two-hour rain delay in Chennai, Australia lost their top four batsmen in eight overs as their run rate stalled to just above four runs an over.

Glenn Maxwell briefly gave rise to hopes of an unlikely victory when he hit 39 from 18 balls, including three consecutive sixes off left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav, but his dismissal brought a swift end to the match. Yadav (2-33) and fellow wrist spinner Yuzvendra Chahal (3-30) did the bulk of the damage as the tourists ended their innings at 9-137, 27 short of the revised target.

Former India skipper MS Dhoni (79 from 88 balls), captain of Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League, had earlier delighted fans in his adopted home city as he and exciting allrounder Hardik Pandya (83 from 66) shared a century stand to propel India to 7-281 after Nathan Coulter-Nile (3-44) had destroyed the home side's top order.

Maxwell's stunning one-hander accounts for Kohli

While Maxwell took a stunning one-handed grab at point to remove Virat Kohli for nought, the Australians were left to rue two missed half-chances in the field and they will now take a series deficit into Thursday's second match in Kolkata.

Smith's drop of Rohit Sharma on four cost only 24 runs, but an edge from Pandya when he was on just 13, which Smith said fell just short of his out-stretched hands at first slip, was match-defining. Similarly, India's total would have been much smaller had debutant Hilton Cartwright hit the stumps when Dhoni was stranded mid-pitch on eight, but his throw from cover narrowly missed the woodwork.

Playing his first international since June last year, Coulter-Nile bowled with impressive pace and early swing to remove Ajinkya Rahane, Kohli and Manish Pandey in the space of just seven balls to leave the hosts reeling at 3-11 after they elected to bat first.

Marcus Stoinis (2-54) then chipped in with the wickets of Rohit (28 from 44 balls) and Kedar Jadhav (40 from 54), both caught on the pull, to have the tourists buzzing with the score at 5-87.

But Dhoni and Pandya, India's heroes old and new, halted Australia's momentum before the younger man unleashed a stunning counter-attack.

A pivotal moment of the innings was the 37th over when an unorthodox tactical gamble from Smith came within inches of producing a wicket. The skipper positioned James Faulkner directly behind the stumps at the bowler's end inside the circle – effectively at short straight hit – and a lofted drive from Pandya off Adam Zampa (1-66) narrowly avoided Faulkner's out-stretched hand on its way to the rope. Emboldened by his good fortune, Pandya deposited Zampa's next three deliveries over the fence straight down the ground, including one that cannoned into the advertising hoarding at the top of the pavilion.

Twenty-four came from that Zampa over and 133 from the last 14 in all, even though the leg-spinner did eventually remove Pandya attempting what would have been his sixth six.

But the departure of the 23-year-old simply meant it was Dhoni's turn to accelerate. Having crawled to a half-century in 75 balls, his 66th ODI fifty and his 100th in all internationals, Dhoni slammed 29 runs from his final 13 deliveries to rapturous applause from the packed MA Chidambaram Stadium, save for the noticeably vacant western grandstand that was again unused due to a protracted construction saga and concerns over spectator safety.

Pandya's spectacular triple treat off Zampa

The most audacious of Dhoni's six boundaries (four fours and two sixes) came in the 48th over, when he ran at Faulkner and casually swatted him into the crowd at extra cover. And having deposited another six off the left-armer in the final over, he perished attempting a third, caught at long off by David Warner.

The 118-run stand between Pandya and Dhoni – of which the senior player contributed just 29 – and a handy 32no from Bhuvneshwar Kumar gave the home side all the momentum and that continued after the rain delay when Cartwright, Smith and Travis Head were all dismissed for single-figure scores against the new ball.

Opener Cartwright (one) looked uncertain throughout his eight-ball stay until a delivery from Jasprit Bumrah kept a little low, went under his attempted pull shot and clattered into his stumps.

Dhoni delight, Pandya power as India post 7-281

Having survived a tight lbw call, Smith (one) then skied his next delivery from Pandya high into the air and Bumrah took a smart catch running back from short fine leg before Pandya had Head (five) slashing outside off stump and edging behind.

Warner looked assured in making 25 before was undone by Yadav, as he had been in the fourth Test in Dharamsala earlier this year, with Dhoni taking a sharp catch behind.

And apart from Maxwell's cameo, nothing but an Indian victory appeared likely from that point, James Faulkner's 32no the only other score in double-figures among the Australians.

It means that despite achieving the rare feat of ripping out India's star-studded top five for less than 100, the Australians will head north to Kolkata on Monday still without an ODI win since January and with the series scoreline already against them.

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Australia's Qantas Tour of India

Australia ODI squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner, Ashton Agar, Hilton Cartwright, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Patrick Cummins, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Peter Handscomb, Travis Head, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, Adam Zampa.

Australia T20 squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner, Jason Behrendorff, Dan Christian, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Patrick Cummins, Aaron Finch, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Glenn Maxwell, Tim Paine, Kane Richardson, Adam Zampa.

India squad (first three ODIs): Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma (vc), KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Ajinkya Rahane, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami.

ODI Fixtures

September 17: MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai

September 21: Eden Gardens, Kolkata

September 24: Holkar Cricket Stadium, Indore

September 28: M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru

October 1: VCA Stadium, Nagpur

T20 Fixtures

October 7: JSCA International Stadium, Ranchi

October 10: Barsapara Stadium, Guwahati

October 13: Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Hyderabad

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