India vs Australia : Smith, Bailey counter-attack stuns India, Rohit’s heroics go in vain

Steve Smith, Australia ODI skipper
Steve Smith, Australia ODI skipper

It is not without any reason Steve Smith is rated today as one of the best young batsmen in world cricket. And the Australian captain Steve Smith showed that class as he scored a majestic  149 overshadowed Rohit Sharma’s magnificent 171 as the hosts flayed India’s listless bowling attack en route a comprehensive five-wicket victory in the first ODI of the five-match cricket series, in Perth.

India electing to bat after skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss  India reached an imposing total of  309 for 3 thanks to Rohit’s unbeaten 171 off 163 balls. Giving him admirable support was the vice-captain Virat Kohli, who made an  attractive 91. The  duo added 207 runs for the second wicket.

In reply, Smith, who faced 163 balls, added a staggering 242 runs for the third wicket with another former captain George Bailey (112) as the home team knocked off the runs with four balls to spare. While it was another heartbreaking end to a Rohit century that ended in a losing cause (his T20 hundred and ODI hundred against SA were scored in defeats)
Smith’s sequence of scores against the ‘Men In Blue’ across formats reads: 162 not out, 52 not out, 133, 28, 192, 14, 117, 71, 47, 105. It also turned out to be the highest successful run-chase at the WACA and the third highest in an ODI in Australia. The Indian bowling attack looked completely out of depth as the Smith-Bailey scored runs at will where ever they wanted

For India, only debutant Barinder Sran (3/56) with his early breakthroughs made his presence felt the rest were miserable. The most ly disappointing were India’s spin twins Ravichandran Ashwin (2/68 in 9 overs) and Ravindra Jadeja (0/61 in 9 overs) . The match clearly exposed their bowling limitations and how ordinary they look when not bowling in tailor made spin tracks at home.

They could hardly extract any turn and were played with consummate ease by the Aussie captain, whose footwork was exemplary. Smith hit 11 fours and 2 sixes en route his fifth ODI ton while Bailey’s third hundred had seven fours and two sixes.

While Australia were 21 for two in the fifth over, things could have taken a different turn as Bailey looked to have gloved the first delivery he faced bowled by Sran. While Dhoni looked confident, Sran did not even go up with an appeal. Bailey’s reprieve really cost India.It brought to focus once gain India’s stance against the DRS.  Along with Smith, he went about rebuilding the innings patiently and kept the scorecard ticking.

They brought up their 50-partnership in only 59 balls, and were very severe on the spinners.  Ashwin was hit for six boundaries and two sixes. It also undid the decent job Bhuvneshwar Kumar (0-42) and Umesh Yadav (0-54) had done in their first spell, to keep things quiet in support of Sran. Kohli (0-13) bowled a couple of overs too as Dhoni searched for alternative options.

Smith and Bailey brought up their 100-stand off 107 balls. Smith reached his half-century off 55 balls, but Bailey had already over-taken him by then, getting there in 60 balls himself. He was the first to reach the three-figure mark as well, scoring his third ODI hundred off 106 balls. Smith then brought up his fifth ODI hundred off 97 balls as the duo celebrated their 200-partnership off 197 balls.

Australia had already crossed the 250-mark in the 41st over, leaving not much to be done in the last 10 overs. But they still made heavy weather of it, with a flurry of wickets falling. Ashwin struck twice, removing Bailey and Glenn Maxwel (6) both caught in the deep off over-pitched deliveries. Sran then removed Smith just before the finish.

Earlier, Rohit smashed his way to 171. It was his  ninth ODI hundred, the stylish right-hander from Mumbai broke a plethora of records, including the one where he surpassed Sir Vivian Richards’ 153 which has been the highest individual score against Australia in an ODI Down Under for the last 37 years.

The Rohit-Kohli combination tore apart an inexperienced Australian attack as their debutant duo of left-arm fast bowler Joel Paris (0/53 in 8 overs) and right arm medium fast Scott Boland (0/74 in 10 overs) were taken to the cleaners. Opener Shikhar Dhawan (9) and Rohit had a tough ask during the start . Josh Hazlewood (1-41) got off to a wayward start and Rohit capitalised on it in style.

The partnership got off to a cautious start. The duo  ran hard between the wickets, and Rohit got the boundaries easily, his swivel-six off Paris a highlight.  At the other end, local bo Paris (0-53) made a decent start to his international career. Rohit looked good from the word go, and Dhawan didn’t seem comfortable at the crease. He was out caught off a mistimed pull shot in the 7th over off Hazlewood , with the score reading 36/1. Kohli then walked in and the Australian bowlers weren’t given a breath of relief as the duo produced a scintillating stand . Pity that the  a super batting effort by Virat and Rohit went in vain at the end.