At last! some­thing to shout about

Nelson Mail - - Sport -

Aus­tralia’s re­serve pace­men and re­called bats­men stood up to shock In­dia by 34 runs at the SCG, when Ro­hit Sharma scored 133 but couldn’t over­haul the hosts’ 288-5 in the ODI se­ries opener.

Des­per­ate to shore up a World Cup de­fence that looked in aw­ful shape af­ter three wins from Aus­tralia’s past 21 com­pleted ODIs, se­lec­tors made six changes.

Us­man Khawaja scored 59 dur­ing his first ODI in al­most two years while Peter Hand­scomb, play­ing his first ODI in 15 months, top-scored with 73 af­ter Aaron Finch opted to bat.

Debu­tant Jason Behren­dorff and fifth-gamer Jhye Richard­son, both called up in the ab­sence of rested guns Mitchell Starc, Josh Ha­zle­wood and Pat Cum­mins, quickly re­duced In­dia to 4-3.

Behren­dorff trapped Shikhar Dhawan lbw for a golden duck then Richard­son, who fin­ished with man-of-the-match fig­ures of 4-26, re­moved Vi­rat Kohli and Am­bati Rayudu in the space of three balls to make the tar­get look an im­pos­ing one.

‘‘I’m ec­static,’’ Richard­son said. ‘‘It’s good to put a per­sonal per­for­mance on the board but I’m just re­ally ex­cited with the way Aus­tralian cricket is head­ing.’’

Sharma coun­tered with his 22nd ODI cen­tury, shar­ing a 137-run stand with MS Dhoni as they threat­ened to drag the In­di­ans to vic­tory.

It was an epic fight­back from Dhoni, whose 332 ODIs meant he boasted as much ex­pe­ri­ence as Aus­tralia’s en­tire XI, and Sharma, ar­guably the best one-day bats­man in the world.

Behren­dorff, pre­sented his cap by Glenn McGrath, ended the part­ner­ship by trap­ping Dhoni lbw for 51 and In­dia even­tu­ally fin­ished at 254-9.

Ball-track­ing re­plays con­firmed the ball was pitch­ing out­side leg stump, how­ever Rayudu had al­ready wasted In­dia’s only re­view.

Richard­son blasted out Dinesh Karthik and Ravin­dra Jadeja but Sharma’s six sixes and con­tin­ued pres­ence at the crease gave In­dia’s fans, well rep­re­sented in the 37,556-strong crowd, some hope. How­ever, a vic­tory equa­tion of 75 runs from the fi­nal five overs ul­ti­mately proved in­sur­mount­able as Shama went down swing­ing at Mar­cus Stoi­nis.

‘‘We kept los­ing wick­ets at the wrong time,’’ Sharma said.

‘‘These are the games that will teach you a lot.’’

Ear­lier, Stoi­nis smacked an un­beaten 47 off 43 balls as Aus­tralia bat­ted out their full 50 overs for just the third time in nine ODIs un­der Justin Langer.

PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

Aus­tralia’s Jason Behren­dorff cel­e­brates tak­ing the wicket of In­dia’s MS Dhoni dur­ing game one of the one-day in­ter­na­tional se­ries at Syd­ney Cricket Ground on Satur­day.

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