Men in Blue beat the visitors in a tight match


Ravindra Jadeja and KL Rahul celebrate the Indian team's victory during the 1st ODI match against Australia at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Friday (ANI)

KL Rahul displayed great resilience and determination as he brought up his 13th ODI half-century in 73 balls in the 35th over of the game

Our Bureau

A gritty and resilient half-century by KL Rahul and Ravindra Jadeja’s crucial knock of unbeaten 45 guided India to 5 wickets victory with 61 balls remaining against Australia in the first ODI of three-match series here at Wankhede Stadium on Friday.

Rahul starred for India with his unbeaten knock of 75 runs off 91 deliveries while Jadeja slammed crucial 45* runs. For Australia Mitchell Starc bagged three while Marcus Stoinis scalped two wickets. Defending a small total of 189, Australia got off to a terrific start and gave India an early blow in the second over of the game. Marcus Stoinis drew first blood as he dismissed Ishan Kishan for 3 runs. Star batter Virat Kohli then came out to bat. Mitchell Starc delivered a fine over throwing deliveries around 145kph and gave India back-to-back two big blows.

Starc dismissed Kohli for 4 runs while right-handed batter Suryakumar Yadav for a Golden Duck. At the time of the powerplay, India’s score read 20/3.

On Starc’s hat-trick ball, new batter KL Rahul drove it pristinely through covers for a boundary. Indian batters struggled to score runs against Australia’s world-class pace attack.

Starc in red-hot form gave Men in Blue another blow as he sent opener Shubman Gill packing for 20, leaving India reeling 39/4. Gill’s wicket invited the captain Hardik Pandya to the crease who opened his account with a deep backward boundary. Sean Abbott delivered a terrific over as he did not let the India duo of Rahul and Pandya score big and conceded just two runs in the 12th over of the game.

The India duo rotated the strike brilliantly and gathered runs while playing boundary shots at regular intervals, easing some pressure from the team. After 15 over, India’s score read 64/4.

Easing some pressure from the team Pandya and Rahul slammed Australian bowlers for boundaries. Stoinis gave struggling India another blow as he removed Pandya for 25, leaving Men in Blue reeling at 83/5 in 19.2 overs.

Star all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja then came out to bat. The duo of Jadeja and Rahul slammed Australian bowlers all around the ground while piling singles.

Rahul displayed great resilience and determination as he brought up his 13th ODI half-century in 73 balls in the 35th over of the game. The Indian pair hammered Adam Zampa for 17 runs with the help of one four and a maximum.

The duo kept taking singles and brought up their 100-run partnership stand in 120 deliveries. Jadeja then slammed Starc fro two boundaries and guided his team home with a 5-wicket victory over Australia.

Earlier, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj scalped three and Ravindra Jadeja bagged two wickets to help India bundle out Australia for 188 in the 35.3 overs.

Mitchell Marsh scored the highest for Australia with 81 off 65 deliveries while Josh Inglis scored 26. For India Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj bagged three while Ravindra Jadeja scalped two wickets.

Opted to bowl first, India got off to a fine start as Mohammed Siraj provided his team with a big wicket of Travis Head in the second over of the game. Opener Mitchell Marsh and Steve Smith then handled the charge as they slammed Indian bowlers for big boundaries regularly.

Marsh hammered Indian pacer Siraj for 12 runs with the help of three boundaries. The batting pair of Marsh and Smith were decisive in their approach and made the Indian bowlers toil hard making merry of the excellent batting conditions on offer.

Smith’s stint at the crease was cut short as he handed a simple catch to KL Rahul in Hardik Pandya’s over after scoring 22 runs. The right-handed batter Marnus Labuschagne came out to bat.

Australia all-rounder Marsh brought up his 14th ODI fifty in the 17th over of the innings while Labuschagne continued to pile up runs from other ends. Marsh continued his powerful hitting and hammered Kuldeep Yadav for 13 runs with the help of one four and one six.

Ravindra Jadeja then delivered a stunning delivery to clear the big wicket of Marsh in the 20th over of the game. Marsh returned after playing a fiery knock of 81 off 65 balls featuring 10 boundaries and five maximums.

The right-handed batter Josh Inglis then came out to bat. Wickets kept coming for India as Labuschagne was dismissed by Kuldeep Yadav after scoring 15 runs. Australia all-rounder Cameron Green then came out to bat.

Mohammed Shami then delivered a stunner in the 28th over to dismiss Josh Inglis for 26. Green failed to score big as he was dismissed for 12 by Shami in the 30th over of the game.

Marcus Stoinis then came out to bat but the batter could not do much as he fell prey to Shami after scoring 5 runs. At this point, Australia kept losing wickets and went down to 9. Adam Zampa then came out to bat but could not stand long at the crease as he was dismissed by Siraj and with this wicket India restrict Australia to 188 in 35.3 overs.

After the game, former India pacer Venkatesh Prasad praised KL Rahul’s sublime unbeaten knock of 75 and insisted the wicket-keeper batter formulated his innings quite brilliantly.

Prasad took to Twitter and tweeted, “Excellent composure under pressure and brilliant innings by KL Rahul. Top knock. Great support by Ravindra Jadeja and a good win for India. #INDvAUS”

Only a month prior, Prasad had posted a number of threads arguing that Rahul needed to be removed from the Indian squad for Test matches. According to Prasad, Rahul’s selection in the team was even allegedly the result of favouritism.

“There is a view that KL Rahul has an outstanding overseas Test record. But stats speak otherwise. He has a test avg of 30 overseas in 56 innings. He has scored 6 overseas centuries but followed it up with a string of low scores that’s why averaging 30. Let’s look at a few others,” Prasad tweeted earlier.

The second ODI of the series will be played at Visakhapatnam on March 19.

Pandya won’t be part of World Test Championship Final

Hardik Pandya the stand-in captain in India’s ODI series against Australia has revealed that he won’t be taking part in the World Test Championship final,

Hardik Pandya has not played Test cricket for India since September 2018 and has been limited to only playing white-ball cricket due to constant injuries especially back injuries. However, with India qualifying for the World Test Championship, he was asked ahead of the first ODI against Australia if he would be ready to don the whites again for the one-off game at The Oval.

While Pandya’s presence does give India an edge with the bat, especially in the absence of Rishabh Pant, as well as the ball in swing-friendly English conditions, the all-rounder was quick to rule himself out for the Ultimate Test.

On being quizzed if he would be tempted to return, Pandya said as quoted by ICC: “To be honest, no. I am ethically very strong in my life. I haven’t done 10% to reach there. I am not even a part of the 1%. So me coming there and taking someone’s place will ethically not go well with me.”

“If I want to play Test cricket, I will go through the grind, I will earn my position and then come back. For that reason, to be very honest, I will not be available or play the World Test Championship Final, or any future test matches until I feel that I have earned my spot,” Pandya said quoted by ICC.

The series also provides both teams with the opportunity to test themselves against each other keeping the Cricket World Cup in mind. Hardik, when asked about World Cup preparation and India’s dismal knockout record of late in Men’s ICC events, spoke about the importance of bilateral series for preparation.

“We are not trying anything new,” Hardik said. “We will play according to the situation but we will try to be brave which I think in the last couple of series we have done well,” quoted ICC.

“The more challenging and closer the bilateral games get, the more we can learn and start playing under pressure as well as the knockouts.

“I don’t think we need to look at it [previous ICC events] right now – past is past. We are looking forward to the future and hoping for the best,” quoted by ICC.

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