Australia last played an ODI in India over two years ago when they lost MS Dhoni’s men in the quarter-finals of the World Cup in Ahmedabad.
So, one would have expected greater excitement at the beginning of the current seven-match ODI series that got underway at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium yesterday.
But that was not to be, and it’s no surprise given that the players from both countries are constantly on the road for virtually the whole year. Also, the IPL has ensured there’s enough familiarity among all to subdue the kind of rivalry one witnessed earlier.
These factors notwithstanding, fans turned up in large numbers and the approximate 30,000 people, who filled up the 33,000-seater stadium, witnessed India lose by 72 runs.
The defeat brought India’s eight-match winning streak to a halt and also set up the series perfectly, considering most experts are banking on the hosts to win the contest.
Faced with a stiff target of 305, India never really looked in control at any stage of the chase and lost wickets at regular intervals to perish meekly.
None of the top-order batsmen, barring Virat Kohli 61 (85b, 6x4) could carry on after getting modest starts and fell to some disciplined bowling by the pace quartet of Mitchell Johnson, Clint McKay, James Faulkner and Shane Watson.
In fact, Watson did extremely well to get rid of Kohli and Rohit Sharma 42 (47b, 6x4). Yuvraj, who was on a demolition drive in the T20 in Rajkot two days ago, started off with a six, but fell to that old nemesis: failing to negotiate a short ball bowled by Johnson.
He was in no position to execute a stroke and was caught by make-shift wicketkeeper Phil Hughes, replacing Brad Haddin who went off briefly after Faulkner ended up poking his eye while celebrating opener Shikhar Dhawan’s wicket.
Earlier, skipper George Bailey led the visitors’ run-scoring charts with 85 off just 82 balls (10x4) as the Tasmanian latched on to the solid foundation provided by the openers Aaron Finch 72 (79b, 8x4, 3x6) and Phil Hughes 47 (53b, 5x4).
Had it not been for Yuvraj, who got rid of Finch and Shane Watson in quick succession and then got in a brilliant throw from point to run out Adam Voges — Australia would have gone on to set a bigger target.
Dhoni admitted his bowlers should have done better. “I don’t think it was a 300-run wicket. I thought we should have restricted them to about 260. We could have bowled and batted better. The Aussie bowlers were very disciplined and extracted good bounce off the wicket,” said Dhoni at the post-match press conference.
P Hughes c Raina b Jadeja 47
A Finch c Kohli b Yuvraj 72
S Watson c Jadeja b Yuvraj 2
G Bailey c Raina b Ashwin 85
A Voges run out Yuvraj 7
G Maxwell c Rohit b Vinay 31
B Haddin lbw Ashwin 10
J Faulkner c Vinay b Ishant 27
M Johnson not out 9
C McKay not out 11
Extras (Lb3) 3
Total (8 wkts, 50 overs) 304
Fall of wickets 1-110, 2-113, 3-146, 4-172, 5-214, 6-231, 7-264, 8-293
B Kumar 7-2-41-0
Vinay Kumar 9-1-68-1
Ishant Sharma 7-0-56-1
R Ashwin 10-0-55-2
R Jadeja 10-0-35-1
V Kohli 1-0-12-0
Yuvraj Singh 6-0-34-2
S Dhawan c Haddin b Faulkner 7
R Sharma c Hughes b Watson 42
V Kohli lbw Watson 61
S Raina c Doherty b Faulkner 39
Y Singh c Hughes b Johnson 7
M Dhoni b McKay 19
R Jadeja c Bailey b Faulkner 11
R Ashwin c Watson b McKay 5
B Kumar c Voges b Finch 18
V Kumar b Voges 11
I Sharma not out 1
Extras (B2, Lb4, W5) 11
Total (all out, 49.4 overs) 232
Fall of wickets 1-26, 2-66, 3-137, 4-147, 5-166, 6-192, 7-196, 8-200, 9-230, 10-232
M Johnson 10-0-38-1
C McKay 10-0-36-2
J Faulkner 8-0-47-3
X Doherty 10-1-54-0
S Watson 8-031-2
A Finch 0.4-0-2-1
Australia won by 72 runs
Pics: Prabhas, Tamannaah Bhatia at 'Baahubali 2' first look launch at MAMI
'Ae Dil Hai Mushkil' photos: Aishwarya, Anushka, Karan get candid at MAMI
Photos: Huma Qureshi, Neha Dhupia and other celebs at MAMI
Photos: Amy Jackson, Daisy Shah at Mumbai airport
Photos: Sridevi, Irrfan and other celebs at 'Mughal-e-Azam' screening