Loss comes India’s way soon after much-lauded Test success

By Vijay Badhwar

If the first Australia-India ODI on January 12 were to be decided by the number of tri-colours waving at the Sydney Cricket Ground or the blue ”˜Star’ shirts dotting the ground, India would have won hands down.

Trains full of Indian supporters, the Central Station concourse teaming with them, only flags sold being Indian, the buses to the Ground devoid of many Australian supporters – the scenes were resplendent with back home visuals and audios of ”˜India Zindabad’, reminders of Ferozeshah Kotla in Delhi or Brabourne Stadium in old Bombay.

But the scenes on the field were different with both teams experimenting with new players – there was no Cummins or Hazlewood in the Aussie team, while India included Ahmed and Rayudu at the expense of tormentor Bumrah and specialist Test player Pujara.

Australia did lose a couple of early wickets but their middle order stabilised their claim with Handscomb (73) batting superbly. The last 10 overs decided India’s fate given away by poor length by newcomer medium-pacer Ahmed.

As well, the writing on the wall became clear for India’s demise in the first four overs as the visitors lost Dhawan in the very first over, and Kohli and Rayudu in the fourth with only four runs on the board. Dhoni and Rohit Sharma rescued from further collapse and took India until the 33rd over when Dhoni was adjudged LBW just after completing his half century.

Rohit Sharma continued in his usual fashion and provided a dim hope for the Indian supporters in Doug Walter Stand where pervaded a languished hush and tucked under flags. Following Sharma’s dismissal at 133, the inevitable arrived with India salvaging some respect in their total of 254 for 9, losing by 34 runs.

The Australian newcomers, Richardson (4-26) and left-hander Behrendorff (2-39) (ODI debutant) bowled superbly; cricket-lovers will see lots of them in future.

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