Even though the match was evenly poised with both the teams having the perfect balance of good batsman, All-rounders and fast bowlers, most of them would have agreed this to be a neck to neck competition. But Australia with a baggage of successful record behind them slightly had a tinge of upper hand entering the game. They had the psychological advantage over the Indians.
India opting to bat first at the Oval Ground were off to a stunning start with the openers R Sharma (57) and Dhawan putting on 127 runs in 22 overs. Rohit once again scored a fine half century putting a conscious effort to prove everyone wrong that he can’t bat vs the quality fast bowlers while Shikhar Dhawan played a classy knock hitting a brilliant 117 off 109 balls laced with 16 boundaries. Shikhar has something with the Australians as he toiled the bowlers with absolute ease hitting some surreal boundaries. Dhawan who had developed a reputation of scoring runs only vs the weaker opponents brought a welcome change as he brought up his 17th ODI ton in style. Yes both the openers have batted really well and let’s wish that their consistency continues till the end of the World Cup Campaign. Kohli coming at no.3 scored a classy 82 bringing in his 50th half century becoming only the 6th Indian to score 50 or more ODI 50’s. After a smooth batting display by the top order, it was some good entertainment left for the viewers as Dhoni (27 off 14), Pandya (48 off 27) and KL (11* off 3) plonked the bowlers for some terrific sixes to push the team total to a mammoth 352/5 in 50 overs. From the bowlers, Stoinis with 2/62 was the pick of the bowlers.
Chasing 353, you need your openers to play at a strike rate of atleast 90 to 100.00 if not more to develop the positive momentum but Warner took considerable time to reach his 50 eventually getting out for 56 facing 84 deliveries. Aaron Finch (36), Steve Smith (69) and Usman Khwaja (42) all batted well but they needed someone who could have batted till the end to guide the team for a win. Maxwell (28) and Alex Carey (55* off 35) did gave some jitters but timely wickets taken by the Indian Bowlers ensured Australia were all out for 316 runs. Bhuvaneshwar Kumar was particularly impressive bowling at good lengths taking big wickets of Smith & Stoinis as he returned with bowling figures of 3/50 in 10 overs. Bumrah with 3/61 was the 2nd best of the lot alongwith Chahal taking 2/62.
India won the match by 36 runs while Shikhar Dhawan was declared ‘Man of the Match”. The positives from the match was certainly the openers shutting the critics down with some good performances vs the big teams, Chahal was able to spin the ball which is a good sign! Pandya and Dhoni indulged in some clean hitting which is another positive for India. After a lacklustre match vs the Proteas where India didn’t look in a hurry, they were immediately able to change gears in the 2nd game which is a sign of good adaptability on foreign wickets.
Let’s hope for the best and expect India to maintain their consistency and run scoring spree with the bat.
Article orignally written for Sportsnasha.com by the same writer.