Prior to the start of the series opener between India and Australia, the average first innings score in matches played between the two since January 2013 was 321. It’s been a run-fest whenever these two teams locked horns; the top-order has played a key role and contributed heavily behind those big numbers. Keeping this in mind, Australian bowlers did a fantastic job in getting rid of India’s top-order cheaply, but Hardik Pandya and MS Dhoni’s late resurgence helped India claw back into the game.
Australian bowlers did well in restricting India to a competitive 281 after which, rains played the spoilsport. The incessant rains saw a reduction in overs as Australia were asked to chase a challenging 164 in 21 overs against a dominant bowling attack with two new balls. India had two wrist-spinners in the attack, which in a way gave the skipper an option to attack.
This was David Warner’s debut One-day International game in India; he was all set to make a mark as he famously did in the Indian Premier League. And this run-chase was no different and the situation was tailor-made for someone like Warner to come out all guns blazing.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah maintained a tight line and hardly provided any freebies with the new ball. A total in 160’s is always a tricky one; it may not look intimidating but a couple of good overs for either side puts them in command. Indian bowlers ensured Australia didn’t get off to a flying start and kept things quiet with the new ball.
Hilton Cartwright fell prey to Bumrah’s persistence for a solitary run and the first blood was drawn. A couple of decent partnerships would have been enough to gun down a target as big as 164 in 21 overs and Australia did have the firepower to do so. After leading India’s fightback with the bat, Hardik Pandya scalped two priceless wickets with the ball and steered India into the driving seat.
At 29 for 3, the onus of steadying the Australian ship was in the experienced hands of David Warner. He was coming fresh from a terrific run in the Bangladesh and had a task in hand at Chepauk. Indian seamers created a solid platform for the wrist spinners to attack. Kuldeep Yadav has troubled Warner in the past and got the better of him on this occasion as well.
Glenn Maxwell’s ability to strike the ball big and clean is well-known. At 35 for 4 in 8 overs, Australia were in dire need of fiery innings and Maxwell threatened to provide one. Maxwell shifted gears and responded to the situation well. After hitting Pandya for two back-to-back boundaries, Maxwell took on Kuldeep Yadav’s wily spin with immense confidence an over later. At first, he smashed a boundary and then plundered a hat-trick of sixes in the same over.
After an impressive first over, Yuzvendra Chahal was putting in the hard yards against a blazing Maxwell. After a single off the first delivery by Marcus Stoinis, Chahal almost got the better of Maxwell at square leg on the second, but it appeared to be a bump ball. The next two deliveries were dots and the pressure was now building on the batsman. Although he broke the shackles with a maximum on the fourth delivery, Chahal had the last laugh.
Chahal dared to toss the ball up despite being hit for a six off the previous delivery. The ball was pitched wide outside off and was turning away from the batsman. Maxwell went for it and tried to heave it over long-on but didn’t get the desired timing and Manish Pandey did the rest at long-on. It was some smart execution and thinking by the bowler to end Maxwell’s cameo on 39. Moments later, Kuldeep chipped in with the wicket of Marcus Stoinis and helped India move a step closer towards a scintillating victory.
Chahal continued his good run, but gave Matthew Wade couple of reprieves off his own bowling. The drops didn’t cost India a lot as the canny leg-spinner outfoxed the southpaw with a deceiving wrong’un while Dhoni did the rest behind the stumps. Moments later, he also got the better of Pat Cummins to scalp his third wicket.
It is often said, wrist-spinners are wicket-taking options and one needs to invest in their abilities. They might go for runs, but are well-known for their knack of picking wickets at regular intervals. Kohli has shown immense faith in wrist-spinners, which is certainly yielding fruitful results. The fact that Chahal produced 16 dot deliveries in his spell of four overs speaks about his effectiveness while Kuldeep Yadav was also effective.India won the game by 26 runs and took an inspiring 1-0 lead in the five-match series. After an emphatic fightback from Pandya and Dhoni, Indian bowlers got the job to register a fine victory. Most importantly, the success of wrist-spinners will only pose
India won the game by 26 runs and took an inspiring 1-0 lead in the five-match series. After an emphatic fightback from Pandya and Dhoni, Indian bowlers got the job to register a fine victory. Most importantly, the success of wrist-spinners will only pose the challenge of a different kind to the visitors in the matches to come.