Wed, 20 Jan 2021

Skipper Aaron Finch and Steve Smith blazed centuries as Australia set India a daunting target in the first one-day international at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Friday.

The Indians, coming out of coronavirus quarantine, looked rusty in their first taste of international cricket since February, as the Australians went on a run rampage to reach 374 for six after winning the toss.

Finch belted 114 and shared in an opening stand of 156 with David Warner in perfect batting conditions before Warner went for 69 off 75 balls.

Smith had a bit of luck early before he took charge in his 105 off 66 balls with four sixes.

He was saved by DRS after a confident appeal for leg before wicket on 15. The ball was judged to have just cleared the stumps.

Shikhar Dhawan then badly missed Smith's miscue on 38 at long on, much to bowler Ravindra Jadeja's annoyance, with the ball trickling into the ropes.

Finch raised his 17th ODI century and was out for 114 off 124 balls trying to steer a Jasprit Bumrah lifter behind the wicket only to be pouched by KL Rahul in the 40th over.

Finch was given a massive let-off on 51 when Jadeja missed the stumps with the Australia skipper fully expecting to be run out.

Marcus Stoinis was out for a first-ball duck, caught behind attempting to play Chahal off the back-foot, and made way for Glenn Maxwell who entertained with a turbo-charged 45 off 19 balls.

Marnus Labuschagne only lasted two balls before holing out to Dhawan. Alex Carey was unbeaten on 17.

India had not played international cricket since a tour of New Zealand earlier in the year and it showed with their outfielding ragged at times.

In contrast, Australia came into the match on the back of beating 50-over world champions England in September.

Getting to the first toss was an uphill battle for India, with wrangling over quarantine requirements and a recent outbreak of coronavirus in Melbourne complicating matters.

But Cricket Australia was desperate for the blockbuster tour, which also includes four Tests, to go ahead, with the funds generated crucial after the sport was hit hard by the Covid-19 shutdown.

Before play, both teams formed a ceremonial, barefoot circle to acknowledge the traditional indigenous owners of the SCG land.

Both teams also observed a minute's silence for the passing of Australia batting great Dean Jones, who died of a heart attack in India last September.

India will have to play out of their skins if they are to win three consecutive ODIs against Australia in Australia for the first time.

Source: News24

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