Indian bowling a big downer

George Bailey and Aaron Finch (below) ripped apart a docile Indian attack.-VIVEK BENDRE George Bailey and Aaron Finch (below) ripped apart a docile Indian attack.

Once Australia capitalised on George Bailey’s correct call at the toss and posted a formidable 304, the writing was on the wall for India, which fell short by a good 72 runs. By G. Viswanath.

Australia jolted India in the first one-day international at the splendid MCA Stadium in Pune. With the host having defeated the Aussies in a thrilling finish in the one-off T20 match in Rajkot, Team India fans filled almost all the seats, barring the premium ones on either side of the dressing rooms. They expected Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s boys to come up trumps again, but the near-packed house was knocked for six as the Indian team was forced to eat humble pie.

Once Australia capitalised on George Bailey’s correct call at the toss and posted a formidable 304, the writing was on the wall for India. Eventually, the host fell short by a good 72 runs. The Australian seamers, led by the left-handed Mitchell Johnson, who bowled almost his full spell at over 140 kmph, hardly faltered. It was clear that they had done their homework.

At the outset, India was found wanting on the bowling front. The main culprit was Ishant Sharma, who bowled like a tyro. At the post-match press conference, Dhoni was perhaps lenient, not ready to point fingers at his seamers after just one match. Medium-pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar hit the slow deck halfway and the Australian captain swivelled and pummelled him. The Indian seam attack that included R. Vinay Kumar gifted away too many runs by bowling a poor line and length. “We don’t have genuine fast bowlers, we have more swing bowlers, so we couldn’t generate the bounce that the Australian bowlers did. The bowlers had to hit the deck from the start. If you can dig it in, you get extra bounce,” explained Dhoni.

PTI

The spinners, Ravindra Jadeja and Yuvraj Singh, did not wilt and struck crucial blows. Ravichandran Ashwin, in his first two-over spell, was put away for a six and a four by the strapping Aaron Finch. The off-spinner looked in control while bowling in the batting powerplay and in the end overs, but he was also among the group that Dhoni said was not up to the mark.

The Australians have found a way to tackle the spinners by staying beside the line and cutting them hard or sweeping fine for maximum results. Finch and Bailey galloped by employing these strokes. At times, Finch was a daredevil, excelling in the lofted drive over the inner arc and the deep. Bailey was brutal, punishing even the slightest of errors. The IPL’s one million dollar man Glenn Maxwell and the lower order batsman James Faulkner showed a lot of talent as they sent the ball soaring into the stands. Finch, Shane Watson and Bailey were caught near the line, while Maxwell and Faulkner at cover as they were attempting to rip the bowling apart.

Bailey has often said that Indian pitches favour batsmen and he did not waste time in electing to bat. Finch and left-hander Phil Hughes proved the Aussie skipper right as they kept the Indian bowlers at bay for nearly 19 overs while raising 110 runs. Hughes (on 32) may have been lucky when Virat Kohli put down a catch at point, but the southpaw was in control of himself, displaying his technique to defend and attack. Raina at leg slip caught Hughes as he tried to work Jadeja against the turn.

James Faulkner celebrates after dismissing Shikhar Dhawan. Faulkner was Australia's most successful bowler with three wickets.-

The Australian batsmen played within themselves during the powerplay (36 to 40 overs) raising 39 runs, but smashed 80 in the last 10 overs. They hit 29 fours and nine sixes and made much of the first session very entertaining.

The Indian chase did not materialise. Rohit Sharma, Kohli and Raina were not given the leeway for fluent stroke-play. “They (Australian seamers Johnson, Cling McKay, Watson and Faulkner) hardly gave the room. They used their height and frame to really hit the deck and the ball came at good pace. The way we started, we weren’t able to build partnerships. We should have got closer. I am disappointed with the shot selection of our batsmen. We were in a decent position to chase down and at one point, the game was 50-50. It was important the batsmen carried on till the powerplay. We could have done that but we played shots that were not really intended. That harmed us,” said Dhoni.

THE SCORES

First ODI: India v Australia, Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Pune, Oct. 13, 2013.

Result: Australia won by 72 runs.

Australia: P. J. Hughes c Raina b Jadeja 47, A. J. Finch c Kohli b Yuvraj 72, S. R. Watson c Jadeja b Yuvraj 2, G. J. Bailey c Raina b Ashwin 85, A. C. Voges run out 7, G. J. Maxwell c Sharma b Vinay 31, B. J. Haddin lbw b Ashwin 10, J. P. Faulkner c Vinay b Ishant 27, M. G. Johnson (not out) 9, C. J. McKay (not out) 11, Extras (lb-3) 3. Total (for 8 wkts; 50 overs) 304.

Fall of wickets: 1-110, 2-113, 3-146, 4-172, 5-214, 6-231, 7-264, 8-293.

India bowling: B. Kumar 7-2-41-0, R. Vinay Kumar 9-1-68-1, Ishant Sharma 7-0-56-1, R. Ashwin 10-0-55-2, R. A. Jadeja 10-0-35-1, V. Kohli 1-0-12-0, Yuvraj Singh 6-0-34-2.

India: S. Dhawan c Haddin b Faulkner 7, R. G. Sharma c Hughes b Watson 42, V. Kohli lbw b Watson 61, S. K. Raina c Doherty b Faulkner 39, Yuvraj Singh c Hughes b Johnson 7, M. S. Dhoni b McKay 19, R. A. Jadeja c Bailey b Faulkner 11, R. Ashwin c Watson b McKay 5, B. Kumar c Voges b Finch 18, R. Vinay Kumar b Voges 11, I. Sharma (not out ) 1, Extras (b-2, lb-4, w-5) 11. Total (in 49.4 overs) 232.

Fall of wickets: 1-26, 2-66, 3-137, 4-147, 5-166, 6-192, 7-196, 8-200, 9-230.

Australia bowling: Johnson 10-0-38-1, McKay 10-0-36-2, Faulkner 8-0-47-3, Doherty 10-1-54-0, Watson 8-0-31-2, Voges 3-0-18-1, Finch 0.4-0-2-1.