Sydney, November 27: India tour of Australia began on a sour note as they went down by 66 runs in the first of the three ODIs at the Sydney Cricket Ground here on Friday (November 27).
From the beginning, Australia pinned India on to the mat as they first amassed 374 for 6 in 50 overs. Steve Smith and skipper Aaron Finch led their charge with centuries, while David Warner and Glenn Maxwell too chipped in with handy cameos.
The Aussies then limited India to 308 for 8 to take a 1-0 lead in the series. The lone bright spot in the Indian innings was the alliance between Shikhar Dhawan and Hardik Pandya for the fifth wicket that yielded 129 runs and gave India a breathing space to stay in the game.
India began the chase of 375 on a bright angle, as Mayank Agarwal and Dhawan raced off the block to add 53 runs in just 5.1 overs. However, Josh Hazlewood fetched the first breakthrough ousting Agarwal, whose attempt to pull ended in the hands of Glenn Maxwell.
Hazlewood, the strapping pacer, used the short ball to good effect to snuff out Virat Kohli, who was dropped on 1 by Adam Zampa off Pat Cummins, and Shreyas Iyer to reduce India to 80 for three and the leggie Zampa jettisoned KL Rahul, and the visitors were teetering at 101 for 4 in the 14th over.
It is a no-hope situation to lose your top four chasing a target as massive as 375. But Dhawan and Hardik did not lose their nerve one bit and reconstructed India's innings with a brilliant partnership. It was superb of the duo to keep India's asking rate just under 8 for a long while.
But soon that point came when India needed some more boost and Dhawan aimed Zampa to drive the run-rate forward. But his intended chip over the mid-wicket off Zampa only resulted in a catch to Mitchell Starc.
Hardik came close to his maiden ODI hundred but Zampa, who picked up four wickets in the match, got under his bat and the hoick did not had the fuel to clear Starc at long-on. It was also the end of India's hopes, if there were any realistic ones.
Earlier opting to bat first, Australia got off to a good start as Warner and Finch made 156 runs for the opening wicket on a rather placid yet spongy pitch at the SCG. Run-making was expected to be a slow process in such a track but the in their elements Aussie batsmen moved on like a freight train.
Smith, whose golden run has now turned into a Netflix series of its own, cashed in on against his favourite opponents after a scratchy IPL 2020 for Rajasthan Royals, his words of finding his hands not being just a hyperbole. He made a hundred, third fastest by an Australian, no less.
Finch, who too had a lukewarm IPL for Royal Challengers Bangalore, transformed into a different batsman yellow and green of Australia. They put into through the wringer with a 108-run alliance for the second wicket in just over 12 overs that took Australia to 264 in 40 overs.
They were conventional but there was not much need to be innovative when the Indian bowlers kept on offering dollies, and the fielders kept on slipping the balls through.
Finch completed his 17th ODI hundred before getting out for Jasprit Bumrah and Smith soon joined the three-figure club with 61-ball hundred, his 10th in ODI cricket. He was castled by Mohammed Shami in the last over but the wicket came a tad late to make any real impact.
Warner made a crunchy fifty 69 off 76 balls and Maxwell, who went through horrors in the IPL 2020 for Kings XI Punjab, played one of those power-packed innings, 45 off 19 balls giving meat to Australian innings.