Sport Cricket Australia’s young guns stun India to claim first ODI match and restore some pride
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Australia’s young guns stun India to claim first ODI match and restore some pride

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Jason Behrendorff (L) celebrates taking the wicket of India's MS Dhoni. Photo: Getty
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A young and relatively inexperienced Australia outfit has drawn first blood in the one-day series against India with a shock 34-run victory at the SCG.

After only three wins from its past 21 ODIs, the selectors made six changes to Saturday’s line-up, with Usman Khawaja scoring 59 in his first ODI outing in almost two years, while Peter Handscomb, playing his first ODI in 15 months, top-scored with 73.

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 had India reeling at 3-4, reducing the Indians to just 2.1 runs an over during the first Power Play.

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

Sharma countered with 133, his 22nd ODI century, sharing a 137-run stand with MS Dhoni as they threatened to drag the tourists to victory, but as wickets kept falling, the tourists couldn’t overhaul the hosts’ 5-288.

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 ended the partnership by trapping Dhoni lbw for 51 and the visitors eventually finished at 9-254.

Ball-tracking replays confirmed the ball was pitching outside leg stump, but 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.

A victory equation of 75 runs from the final five overs ultimately proved insurmountable and Sharma went down swinging at Marcus Stoinis.

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.

The absence of a collapse was a big tick, especially after Australia slipped to 2-41 when promoted opener Alex Carey joined Finch in the pavilion.

Australia failed to find the rope between the start of the 37th over and end of the 43rd over, a stretch that featured 27 runs and the dismissal of Shaun Marsh on 54.

There were plenty of wisecracks in the commentary box about Australia’s conservative approach mirroring their canary-yellow retro kit from 1986.

But Australia took 80 runs off the final seven overs as Stoinis and Handscomb delivered what proved a winning score.

For some fans, the most notable aspect of the Australian innings was the batting order, which had Glenn Maxwell batting at number seven, leaving him to face just five balls in the Australian innings, from which he still managed to score 11 runs.

Many believed Maxwell should have been promoted to accelerate the scoring at a time when runs had dried up.

Former great Shane Warne also weighed in: “Maxwell should have faced more than five balls in a one-day international. He’s so dangerous,” Warne told Fox Cricket at the innings break.

“He’s got great innovation. He can score quickly and Australia are probably one or two good overs behind and he might be in the shed not batting at all.”

Former Aussie skipper Allan Border said Maxwell should have been promoted after the wicket of Shaun Marsh in the 38th over.

“You have to see that it’s an opportunity missed by Australia to get Maxwell in,” he said.

“It’ll be the area that changed the score from around 270-280 to that 300+ score.

“A little bit disappointing with wickets in hand that could’ve pushed the score past 300.”

-with AAP

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