Hyderabad, Mar 2:
Mahendra Singh Dhoni took a chase deep for the umpteenth time but it needed Kedar Jadhav’s street smartness to get India back on winning track as they beat Australia by six wickets in the first ODI here Saturday.
India reached the target in 48.2 overs, riding on a 141-run unconquered stand between Kedar (81 no, 87 balls) and Dhoni (59 no off 72 balls), to take a 1-0 lead in the five-match series.
India had lost the two preceding T20 Internationals.
Clad in their brand new jerseys, the successful chase of 237 was a throwback to the good old 90’s when Ajay Jadeja and Robin Singh would hunt down those sub 250 totals in exciting finishes.
However, it shouldn’t be lost in isolation that India made a heavy weather of an easy target on a not so difficult wicket.
As has been the case these days, Dhoni was once again unable to rotate the strike at the start of his innings and the onus was on Kedar to hit the boundaries after they joined hands at 99 for four with skipper Virat Kohli (44, 45 balls) and his deputy Rohit Sharma (37, 66 balls) back in the hut.
While Dhoni hit six fours and a six off Nathan Coulter-Nile, it was the diminutive Maharashtra man, who did the hard yards of finding the gaps.
Be it the inside out boundaries off Adam Zampa or those cheeky tennis ball dabs off his hips or a steer through the third man, Kedar was everything that Dhoni needed in those middle overs.
On the way to his fifth half-century, Kedar hit nine fours and a six as he upped the ante once Dhoni started suffering from cramps, getting those big shots out of the closet.
That age is catching up was visible when Dhoni was taking those doubles on big Australian grounds but he did enough to complete his 71st half-century in his 339th ODI. Fittingly, Dhoni finished the game with successive boundaries off Marcus Stoinis.
In the afternoon, Indian bowlers controlled the proceedings like seasoned puppeteers, pulling strings at will to restrict Australia to a sub-par 236 for 7.
It was a vastly different performance from the bowling unit which maintained discipline for the better part of the 50 overs with Mohammed Shami (2/44 in 10 overs) showing the way. (PTI)