Can India do anything to stop Steve Smith who is unstoppable?
Australia register a 66-run win over India in the opening ODI of the three-match series
An all-round performance from Australia saw them register a 66-run win over India in the opening ODI of the three-match series at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Friday.
If skipper Aaron Finch (114) and Steve Smith (105) stole the show with the bat, it was leg-spinner Adam Zampa who joined Josh Hazlewood with the ball to derail the Indian batting line-up. While Zampa finished with figures of 4/54 from his 10, Hazlewood picked three from his 10 overs and gave away 55 runs. Chasing a monumental target of 375, the visitors were never really in the game except for a brief stage when opener Shikhar Dhawan (74) and Hardik Pandya (90) put on 128 runs for the fifth wicket. But the top half of the innings had already left a lot to be desired even though openers Mayank Agarwal and Dhawan did get off to a flier and added 53 in the first five overs. Speedster Hazlewood started the damage by removing Agarwal (22) in the sixth over.
Skipper Virat Kohli joined Dhawan in the middle and added 25 runs for the second wicket. But looking to up the ante with an eye on the required rate, Kohli too became a victim of Hazlewood after hitting a run-a-ball 21.
Earlier, Smith and Finch’s tons guided the hosts to a mammoth 374/6 in their 50 overs. Having opted to bat after winning the toss, Australia got off to a brilliant start with openers David Warner and Finch scoring regular boundaries.
The duo kept the scoreboard running and touched the 100-run mark in the 19th over. Mohammed Shami handed India the first breakthrough as he dismissed Warner (69), ending their 156-run partnership. But the joy was shortlived as Smith came out to bat.
Smith and Finch proved too good for the Indian bowlers and took Australia past the 200-run mark in the 34th over. Smith started playing aggressively and completed his half-century off just 36 deliveries.
Steve Smith might not be the most orthodox batsman on display, but when on song, the former Australia skipper is undoubtedly a treat to watch. The crowd at the Sydney Cricket Ground was witnessed to some magical shots from Smith’s bat as he hit a scintillating 66-ball 105 that took the game away from India. Speaking about the knock at the end of the game, Smith said he had been searching for something that has finally fallen in place and that has seen him return to rhythm.
“Have been searching for something for a couple of months now. About three days ago something just clicked. My rhythm came back, everything came back,” he pointed.
The Australians were off to a great start thanks to skipper Aaron Finch and David Warner and Smith acknowledged the fact that it helped as he could walk out and enjoy himself in the middle.
“Finchy and Davey played very well early on. We could come in and be aggressive. Wasn’t thinking too much out there, just seeing the ball and hitting it,” he said.
Smith did admit that he did not play in the usual way and did go ahead to take a few risks. Fortunately for the batsman, the risks paid off and the hosts smiled their way to a 1-0 lead in the three-game series.
“Was seeing the ball well. It was a good surface. I took a few more risks than I would normally. I targeted some bowlers and fortunately, it came off. Nice to contribute to a good win,” he said.
Australia skipper Aaron Finch put the team ahead of himself despite playing a captain’s knock at the Sydney Cricket Ground against India on Friday and said he was lucky that a couple of chances he took came off well.
While Finch found the going tough, his opening partner David Warner looked in fine flow as he hit 69 off 76 balls. “Each guy has different strengths and weaknesses. You embrace that. Davey, he’s moving beautifully. His rhythm looked outstanding,” Finch said.
If Warner was good, Steve Smith was one better as he looked to be batting on a different pitch altogether. Having sounded the warning bells going into the ODIs, Smith hit a 66-ball 105 that was laced with four sixes and 11 fours. Commenting on the scintillating knock from Smith, Finch said: “Smudge was different class altogether.”