HIT AND RUNS
AUSSIE BATS FIRE, THEN BOWLERS LAND THE KILLER BLOW
AUSTRALIA gave India a little taste of the torture they’ve been going through for the past nine months when they pulled off a stunning victory at the SCG last night.
Slammed relentlessly both on and off the field since the ball-tampering scandal, the Australians showed how quickly fortunes change when the blowtorch is taken off them and turned on their rivals.
But before Australia get too carried away, World Cup winners Shane Warne and Mark Waugh have called for Glenn Maxwell to be immediately promoted up the order after the Aussies almost blew it.
Australia pinched the series opener by 34 runs after an inspired bowling performance by rookie paceman Jhye Richardson (4-26) and debutant quick Jason Behrendorff (2-39). But they almost threw it away until Maxwell took a catch in the deep to remove the dangerous Rohit Sharma (133).
“We thought it was a competitive score and obviously 288 is a competitive score,” Richardson said. “Our preparation leading up to this game was absolutely phenomenal. Everyone was really excited to play this game and get into the retro kits.”
Maxwell faced just five deliveries after coming to the crease in the 48th over batting at No. 7 and, while he made a quick 11 not out, everyone was left guessing what he could have made if given more time.
“Maxwell should have faced more than five balls in a one-day international. He’s so dangerous,” Warne told Fox Cricket.
Waugh, also commentating on Fox, agreed with his former teammate: “I don’t know about this batting order.”
Australia’s middle order all made runs but none went on to make the really big score that Sharma showed d was possible when you take a few w calculated risks.
Peter Handscomb (73), Usman Khawaja (59), Shaun Marsh (54) and Marcus Stoinis (47 not out) ensured their own survival for now at a time when self-preservation is the order of the day amid the constant chopping and changing of selections.
“I thought the partnership between Khawaja and Marsh set us up and Pete Handscomb played a gem,” Australian captain Aaron Finch said. “I thought Jason handled his nerves brilliantly. And then the youngster Jhye is full of confidence and he’s got a bright future ahead of him.”
Just a week ago, Virat Kohli’s men were dancing a jig on the same hallowed turf, but are now embroiled in their own firestorm after two Indian players, allrounder Hardik Pandya and Lokesh Rahul, were suspended for making sexist remarks about women on a TV chat show that was aired at home.
The comments, which included boasts about having sex with multiple women, have been greeted with outrage in a country already dealing with massive protests about the way women are treated in India.
The tourists’ combative skipper moved quickly to distance himself from his disgraced teammates, condemning their actions and insisting they were not reflective of the team.
Kohli didn’t think the controversy would affect his remaining players, but not even he could lift their spirits as they struggled.
“We’re not very pleased with the way we played,” Kohli said.
“I think we were fine with the ball. That wicket was 300-plus par.
“One more good partnership and we would have got close. But losing three wickets up front was the problem and Australia were professional enough not to let us back in.”
Glenn Maxwell hits out during the first onedayer against India, and ( inset) Jhye Richardson celebrates a wicket at the SCG yesterday. Pictures: Getty Images, AAP