India is led home by Rahul and Jadeja in a tense race


In the opening ODI against Australia on Friday in Mumbai, India prevailed thanks to a back-up century stand between KL Rahul and Ravindra Jadeja (March 17). India lost five wickets in the low-scoring match before Rahul and Jadeja teamed up, but they played well together to lead the hosts to victory with 61 balls remaining.

Early in the hunt, India was put under a lot of stress. Australia needed early wickets because they were only defending 188, and the decision to give Marcus Stoinis the new ball paid off. Ishan Kishan was stranded lbw after failing to negotiate the movement, and the left-hander also lost a review on the way back. Then, during the powerplay, Starc bowled a difficult spell that kept the home crowd quiet.

On two consecutive deliveries, the left-arm seamer bowled two similar deliveries that looped back into the right-hander, dismissing Virat Kohli and Suryakumar Yadav. The Australian seamers continued to raise doubts by continuously moving the ball while Rahul hit the hat-trick ball for a stunning boundary. Starc was allowed an additional over with the new ball, and the visitors benefited greatly from the choice as Shubman Gill was unable to maintain control of a drive and was caught at point. India was under intense pressure at 39/4 before Hardik Pandya and Rahul revived the pursuit.

Rahul at the other end started to find the boundaries as Pandya hit his opening ball for a boundary. The acting captain then attacked Cameron Green's short ball and upper cut him for a six, but when he tried to pull Stoinis, he was caught by the fielder close to the boundary. While the two hitters took their time to chew at the target, that brought out Jadeja to the middle. Jadeja and Rahul accepted the responsibility as the last known partnership and were OK with just the occasional boundary because the required run rate was well within their control.

Although both hitters were able to eliminate the threat, returning Glenn Maxwell, who was sent in to worry Jadeja, did find some traction on the surface. Jadeja broke the bonds by powering it to the boundary when Stoinis offered width to him. Rahul ultimately reached his fifty as India began to progressively take the lead in the game. After that, the 30-year-old firmly established his dominance by hitting three boundaries in the span of five deliveries, including a stunning six from Adam Zampa over wide long on. The two ultimately led India to victory pretty convincingly, forcing Australia to give up as a result.

Australia was shocked by India's remarkable bowling turnaround earlier in the day as they went from a solid 129/2 to get bowled out for just 188. Early in the game, Australia lost Travis Head, but Mitchell Marsh, who started in place of David Warner, provided them a strong start by consistently reaching the line on the powerplay. When Australia accelerated to 59/1 by the end of the powerplay, Marsh also displayed his power game and frequently cleared the ropes, including a magnificent straight six off Shardul Thakur.

After bringing up his fifty, Marsh resumed his assault while Steve Smith drew closer to the "keeper". Marsh quickly moved from 50 off 51 balls to 81 off 64 as India was put under pressure. Jadeja, however, saved India by getting one to hold just a little bit off the surface, which caused Marsh to mistime and get caught at short third man. Then Jadeja himself made an incredible catch from the same spot to remove Marnus Labuschagne. The loss of those two wickets led to a collapse.

Mohammad Shami rejoined the attack and quickly destroyed the middle order. Stoinis edged one behind and was caught by Gill, who had earlier dropped him on nought first ball, after Green misjudged a delivery targeted at off stump and was bowled. Josh Inglis, who at first gave off a positive impression during his brief spell, inside-edged one onto his stumps as the slide progressed. As Australia's innings drew to a screeching halt, Mohammed Siraj returned to seal the deal while Maxwell, their last hope, tamely chipped one to Hardik. This ultimately contributed to Australia giving up an early lead in the series.


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Head and Labuschagne temper India's aspirations