Indians look to strike back

Indians look to strike back

Indians look to strike back

It was not the start India would have expected. Australia showed  they were more than the underdogs in the series with an emphatic victory in the opening match in Pune.

The former world beaters are desperate to prove themselves and the hosts will need to regroup with urgency to nip their surge in the remaining six ODIs.

The Australian aura may have diminished but they have kept their excellent record in India in the shorter format intact.

Presently at stake is the World No. 1 spot, which has stoked the interest in the series between the long-time rivals. That how much the top of the ladder means to the Australians reflected in their fine execution of 72-run victory in Pune. India, the world champions and top ODI team, surely have their task cut out from here.

Even before the series could begin, George Bailey’s team was written off as the weakest to visit India. Michael Clarke’s absence made them look even more vulnerable. But Bailey led by example, slamming 85 off 82 balls that came after Aaron Finch's aggressive 72.

But a 300-plus score has long ceased to be a recipe for success. It has to be complemented by good bowling, more so if the team happens to be packed with batsmen of caliber India has.

On an uneven surface where the Indian bowlers were guilty of being wayward, Australia’s strength in the pace attack showed up. Australian pacers bent their backs to rock the strong Indian batting. James Faulkner (3/47), Shane Watson (2/31), Mitchell Johnson (1/38) and Clint McKay (2/36) made clever use of the chronic Indian weakness against the short ball to fold them up for 232, way behind Australia's total of 302/8.

Bailey later made no bones about calling the victory “huge” for Australians, who have been facing a constant onslaught on their inability to continue with culture and character of their World Champion sides.

Their home work had certainly paid off and Bailey said his pacers would continue to test the Indian batsmen. Jaipur can prove to be even better for the Australians in that regard. The pitch here has a sprinkling of grass that would excite their bowlers.

Watson and Faulkner, the two regular Rajasthan Royals players, are aware of the venue like the back of their palm and their experience should keep the team in good stead.
India never looked in command while chasing the 300-plus total except when Virat Kolhi was at crease. The poor bowling performance proved to be their undoing too.

Dhoni admitted the bowlers gave too much width and conceded far too many runs on a wicket where 260 was a par score.

While the Australians have been able to make the most of the two-new ball rule even on a sluggish pitch, the same cannot be said about the Indians. Their two main bowlers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and R Vinay Kumar rely heavily on swing and in its absence, they appeared ordinary.

Ishant Sharma has struggled with his length and was expensive in both T20 and ODI. His tendency to provide length balls in death overs has proved costly.

It was only the first match of a long series but the way Australians bounced back after their Twenty20 defeat has set the alarm bells ringing for the Indians.

England last year snatched India’s No 1 Test ranking by outspinning them on their home pitches. To overtake India and move into the top spot, for the first time since July 2012, Australia have to win at least six of the seven matches in this series. India will not like an encore.

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox