Shubman Gill (left) and Ruturaj Gaikwad during their 142-run stand. Pic/Getty Images
Even without two premier batters Team India were quite impressive against a strong Australian side in the first ODI at the PCA Stadium on Friday. The way Gen-Z batters Shubman Gill and Ruturaj Gaikwad batted under lights, chasing 277, the absence of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli was never felt.
No doubt, there was a hiccup when Shreyas Iyer and Ishan Kishan fell in quick succession, but KL Rahul and Suryakumar Yadav with an excellent partnership ensured that India won the match with five wickets and eight balls to spare, to make a winning start to the three-match series.
It was due to an excellent bowling performance, led by Mohammed Shami with a career-best 5-51, that the home team were able to restrict Australia to a below-par 276. Though most of the Aussie batters got starts, none could make them count, with David Warner the only half-centurion among them. The Indian bowlers were on the money, barring Shardul Thakur, who was quite expensive. Spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja were not only economical, but also provided crucial breakthroughs.
Going into the first ODI, there was skepticism among Indian cricket fans as to how the depleted batting line-up would perform against the Australians, who are considered one of the favourites for the World Cup. But the way Gill and Gaikwad laid the platform for the chase, there was no doubt about the outcome. On a pitch where the Aussie batters found it difficult to collect runs at a fast clip, the two were fluent right from the start. The duo put on an impressive 142-run alliance before Gaikwad fell to Zampa for 71. Playing only his third ODI game, after making 19 (v South Africa) and eight (v West Indies), Gaikwad finally showed his potential as a star of the future.
Gill, who hails from Punjab, was playing his first international game in any format on his home ground here and made a strong statement about his immense talent and form after his emergence in the international arena three years ago. Continuing from where he left off in the Asia Cup where he was the tournament's top run-getter, Gill played some lovely strokes against an undercooked Aussie attack. When a century was there for the taking, attempting an ambitious stroke, he lost his wicket to Zampa for 74.
India lost Iyer to a needless run out and Kishan cheaply, but Rahul and Suryakumar saw that the opening stand did not go waste with a 80-run partnership. Suryakumar for once played like one needs to in ODIs and his half-century puts him in strong contention to start in the XI, come the World Cup. He fell when victory was in sight, but Rahul, with a four, brought up his half-century, and a six, finished off the match in style. The next match is in Indore on Sunday and the last one at Rajkot on Wednesday.
This is India's second win over Australia at Mohali in six ODIs
Australia 276 all out in 50 overs (D Warner 52, J Inglis 45, M Labuschagne 39, C Green 31; M Shami 5-51) lost to India 281-5 in 48.4 overs (S Gill 74, R Gaikwad 71, KL Rahul 58', S Yadav 50; A Zampa 2-57) by five wickets