Australia’s winning start to the cricket World Cup came to an end Monday morning when it suffered a 36-run loss to India at The Oval.
Aaron Finch’s side struggled with the ball and conceded its highest score in World Cup history as India piled on 5-352, largely thanks to Shikhar Dhawan (117) and captain Virat Kohli (82).
In response, returning duo Steve Smith (69) and David Warner (54) could not score quicker than a run a ball, the latter particularly scratchy in an 84-ball knock that included 46 dot balls.
Despite wicket-keeper Alex Carey finishing with an unbeaten 55 from just 35 balls, Australia ran out of time and was bowled out for 316 from the very last ball of the match.
“They [India] got 120 off the last 10 overs which is a lot. We didn’t bowl our best stuff … we struggled to get wickets early on and that was the key,” Finch said afterwards.
“It was just one of those games – they just outplayed us.”
Asked to comment on Warner’s innings, Finch added: “I think they bowled really well to him, early. The wicket, it was [playing] a touch low when we first started our batting innings, so the way that he played, he probably had to take a bit more time, which was fine.
“‘Davey’ [Warner] is a great player, he’s a world class player and he’ll bounce back.”
The result ended Australia’s 10-match one-day international winning streak and saw the nation’s eight-match run of victories at the World Cup come to an end.
The match was also notable for an incident in which Kohli remonstrated with the India fans after Smith was the victim of booing.
Smith, like Warner, is making his return to international cricket at the World Cup after a ball-tampering ban, and the former clearly appreciated the gesture as he embraced Kohli shortly after.
While indian fans giving a tough time to steve smith fielding at deep, virat kohli told them to cheer for Australia instead! @imVkohli defining the real meaning of gentleman's game! #SpiritOfCricket #WorldCup2019 #INDvAUS pic.twitter.com/TPRMDTDeI8
— Abhishek Garg (@Abhishe50772688) June 9, 2019
Australia, which has dropped to fourth in the World Cup standings, has a chance to bounce back from its defeat on Tuesday when it takes on Pakistan at Taunton.
Needing more than seven runs per over for victory, Warner had an early stroke of luck when he inside-edged onto the stumps, via his shoe, but saw the bails remain in place.
As he did against Afghanistan, Warner appeared rusty and at one point went 14 deliveries without scoring as Australia limped to 0-29 off nine overs.
The very next over, from Hardik Pandya (0-68), produced 19 runs but Finch was soon run out for 36 after a moment of hesitation.
Warner had acknowledged his footwork was below par when he scored a gritty 89 against Afghanistan, and he continued to struggle with his timing on this occasion.
Monday’s half-century took 77 balls to compile, before he holed out in the deep off Yuzvendra Chahal (2-62) with Australia at 2-133 in the 25th over.
The urgency for quick runs weighed heavily on the rest of the order and Usman Khawaja (42 off 39 balls) and Glenn Maxwell (28 off 14) chipped in with important cameos.
But both fell in the pursuit of boundaries and when Bhuvneshwar Kumar removed Smith and Marcus Stoinis (0) in the 40th over, all seemed lost.
Carey kept alive unlikely hopes of victory with a series of late boundaries but he ran out of partners as the tail collapsed and India triumphed.
Earlier, Australia took more than 22 overs to take a wicket as India openers Dhawan and Rohit Sharma (57) combined for a 127-run union.
The closest Finch’s men came to a wicket was in the second over, when a diving Nathan Coulter-Nile spilled a chance at midwicket to remove Sharma on two.
After seeing off the new ball, India attacked Coulter-Nile, hitting three fours in his first over, but the same man came back into the attack to take the first breakthrough when Sharma was caught behind.
Dhawan was enjoying a day out and thrashed 16 fours as he brought up his 17th one-day international century from 95 deliveries.
Kohli, who lacked fluency in the early part of his innings, picked up the slack when Dhawan departed, the skipper adding 81 runs with Pandya (48) in less than nine overs.
Kohli finished with 82, falling in the final over just like MS Dhoni, who hit 27 off 20 deliveries.
But the score of 352 would prove far too much for Australia, who were surprisingly ineffective with the ball.
New-ball bowlers Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc finished with 1-55 and 1-74 respectively, while Coulter-Nile took 1-63 off 10.
And Australia was given serious food for thought at the selection table as Stoinis (2-62 off seven overs) and Adam Zampa (0-50 off six overs) were targeted and proved expensive.