Australia overcame an explosive century from Rohit Sharma to post a morale-boosting 34-run victory against India in the first one-day international in Sydney on Saturday.
The Australians batted first after winning the toss and made 288 for five off their 50 overs. Sharma blasted 133 off 129 balls in a brave effort to keep India in the contest, but a strong Australian bowling attack, especially Jhye Richardson who took four for 26, restricted India to 254 for nine.
It was a tonic for the ailing Australians who were coming off their first-ever home Test series defeat to Virat Kohli’s India and had won just three of their previous 24 ODIs.
Test discard Peter Handscomb top-scored for Australia with 73 off 61 balls with Usman Khawaja and Shaun Marsh also registering half-centuries. Handscomb, passed over this week by selectors for this month’s two Tests against Sri Lanka, led the way with six fours and two sixes. Fellow Test discard Marsh knocked up 54 off 70 balls while Khawaja made 59 from 81.
India lurched to a disastrous start, losing three wickets in the first six overs, from which it failed to recover. Shikhar Dhawan was out on the sixth ball of the innings as he was adjudged leg before wicket for a first-ball duck to ODI debutant Jason Behrendorff.
It got worse for India when skipper Virat Kohli was caught at square leg off Richardson for three and two balls later Ambati Rayudu was trapped leg before wicket by Richardson after a review, leaving India rocking at four for three.
Former World Cup-winning captain M.S. Dhoni put on 137 runs with Sharma for the fourth wicket to stabilise India’s rocky start. But he was trapped leg before wicket by Behrendorff for 51 after scoring his 68th ODI half-century. Dhoni faced 96 balls and hit three fours and a six.
Sharma kept India in the contest with some prodigious hitting, blasting six sixes and 10 fours. But his mighty knock came to an end when he skied Marcus Stoinis to Glenn Maxwell at deep mid-wicket to end India’s remaining hopes.
All-rounder Stoinis remained unbeaten on 47 off 43 balls with two fours and two sixes, while limited-over specialist Glenn Maxwell finished with 11 off just five balls in Australia’s innings. Skipper Aaron Finch fell for six in the third over as Bhuvneshwar Kumar picked up his 100th ODI wicket.
Khawaja and Marsh put on 92 runs for the third wicket before Khawaja was dismissed on 59, out leg before wicket to spinner Ravindra Jadeja. Khawaja, who was struck on the front pad while attempting to sweep, sought a review but there was no ‘hot spot’ detected off the bat. Marsh looked well set before he holed out to Mohammed Shami off Kuldeep at long on, ending a 53-run stand with Handscomb, who later found Shikhar Dhawan at extra cover off Kumar.
The second match in the three-match series will take place in Adelaide on Tuesday.