Finch, Warner pulverise India

Finch, Warner pulverise India

Australian batsmen Aaron Finch and David Warner run between the wickets during the first one day international (ODI) cricket match against India, at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. (PTI Photo/Kunal Patil)

The prolonged silence from the Wankhede crowd here on Tuesday evening told the story.

The predictions of a battle of equals ahead of the first ODI of the three-match series fell horribly flat as only one team enjoyed a great day at the office.

India, a side with a habit of walloping their opponents at home, was handed a sound warning from an all-round Australia, who registered a thumping ten-wicket victory.

After Aaron Finch won a good toss, the Australian bowling unit combined intent with discipline to restrict the hosts to a below-par 255 all out in 49.1 overs. The odds favoured the Australians but the manner in which they gained a 1-0 lead left the Indians scratching their heads.

Early into their defence, India’s plan of inflicting an early setback on the visitors was squashed as openers David Warner (128 n.o., 112b, 17x4, 3x6) and Aaron Finch (110 n.o., 114b, 13x4, 2x6) took it upon themselves to finish the job. It took little effort for the pair to keep the Indian attack at bay. Pacers and spinners gifted short balls with shocking regularity. With hardly any challenge on offer, Australia raced to 100 in the 13th over to virtually seal the deal.

Warner made sure he turned his good start into a big one by slamming his 18th ODI hundred in just 88 balls in the 31st over. With a sweep off Ravindra Jadeja three overs later, Finch joined the party by reaching 16th ODI ton in 108 balls.

The battle next shifts to Rajkot on January 17. Australia will be wary of a charged-up India, who will look to take the series to the decider after being outplayed in the opener.

India didn’t panic despite Rohit Sharma’s early exit (10). Shikhar Dhawan (74, 91b, 9x4, 1x6) and KL Rahul (47, 61b, 4x4) kept India well on course for a big total. But Australia took control in the middle overs by packing off the duo in quick fashion and the men-in-blue, looking to push the run flow, lost their way in dramatic fashion.

Rahul was understandably livid when he handed a simple catch to Steve Smith at cover while going for an inside-out shot off left-arm spinner Ashton Agar. Dhawan perished when he top-edged one to mid-off fielder while trying to flick Pat Cummins (2/44).

Kohli’s experiment to bat at No.4 to accommodate all three openers failed when the Indian captain fell to Adam Zampa. Kohli, on 16, drove one hard to the leg-spinner, who pouched a sharp catch to dismiss the big fish for the fourth time in seven innings.

A 49-run stand between Jadeja (25) and Rishabh Pant (28) wasn’t enough in the end for India. Mitchell Starc, as feared by the Indians, stamped his authority. Blessed with a caliber of working his magic at any point of the contest, the left-arm pacer picked up three for 56. He forced an error from Rohit’s willow in the fifth over.

Operating with his typical ferocious pace and sustained intensity, he pegged India back in the middle overs by removing Shreyas Iyer (4). The dangerous Aussie denied the hosts a late surge by castling Shardul Thakur with a crushing yorker. It helped Australia that it wasn’t a one-man show as Cummins (2/44) and Kane Richardson (2/43) made it a team work.

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