Steve Smith’s ominously fluent hundred and a captain’s century from Aaron Finch have guided Australia to a comfortable 66-run win in their ODI series opener against India.
Smith (105), Finch (114), David Warner (69) and Glenn Maxwell (45) dismantled and demoralised the visiting attack at the SCG, where the hosts stormed to a total of 6-374 thanks partly to some sloppy fielding.
On to the next one. pic.twitter.com/kCqkvR6EU8
— Virat Kohli (@imVkohli) November 27, 2020
Shikhar Dhawan, who was responsible for arguably the most costly and cringeworthy error in the field, and Mayank Agarwal rocketed India to 0-53 after five overs.
Virat Kohli extended the entertaining start to Friday’s chase with a flurry of boundaries but chipped a catch to Finch on 21 as the tourists crashed to 4-104 in the 14th over.
Dhawan (74) and Hardik Pandya (90) gave their vocal supporters hope of a miracle, while Adam Zampa finished with figures of 4-54.
The tourists finished well short at 8-308, with Marcus Stoinis’s side injury and dropped catches that reprieved Kohli, Dhawan and Pandya among Australia’s only concerns.
The match finished belatedly at 11.09 pm AEDT, with protesting pitch invaders responsible for a tiny portion of extended delays.
— Raunak Kapoor (@RaunakRK) November 27, 2020
Kohli will rue the ease at which Australia assumed control after winning the toss, his and teammates’ misfields, plus their lack of composure with the willow.
It is undoubtedly Smith’s freestyling start to the summer – which would have ended on 13 if not for the batsman’s successful review and could easily have ended on 38 if not for Dhawan’s schoolboy error on the boundary – that will concern him most.
The battle within the battle between Smith and Kohli, widely regarded as the two best batsmen in the world, was a lopsided affair in the opening round.
Smith’s previous home summer was below his lofty standards, while he was concussed during a recent tour of England and then never really got going during the recent Indian Premier League.
But the 31-year-old generally produces his best in big series.
“I’ve been searching for something for a while, pretty much since we started playing again after the COVID break,” Smith said.
“Something clicked the other day.
“You need some luck sometimes when you score runs, I rode it today.”
Smith’s race to the race
Smith set the bar high at the start of a long tour that ends with four Tests, earning a pat on the back from Kohli as he raced to 50 in 36 deliveries then reached three figures in just 62 balls.
Maxwell and James Faulkner are the only Australians to have registered an ODI ton in more rapid fashion.
It was an emotive century, as it was for Finch on the the sixth anniversary of the death of their good mate Phillip Hughes.
Finch, who shared a 156-run partnership with Warner then a 108-run stand with Smith, and Maxwell also found form on Friday after quiet IPL campaigns.
Smith, interviewed by broadcasters after 40 overs with Australia sitting pretty at 2-264, made it clear he was aiming for a total “somewhere around 370”.
Maxwell’s audacious 19-ball cameo, the highlight of which was a reverse-swept six off spinner Yuzvendra Chahal, ensured Smith’s prediction was on the money.