"It is a no-brainer," said the Indian skipper Virat Kohli at the toss, while electing to bat first at Chepauk on Sunday (September 17). As the innings started getting along, it seemed Australia had racked their brains well enough to come up with a plan against India on flat tracks. Riding on sharp, tidy lengths, Australia's new ball bowlers put the Indian batsmen under the pump. However, a fifty partnership between Kedar Jadhav and MS Dhoni, and then combative fifties from the former skipper himself to couple with Hardik Pandya's pyrotechnics ensured India lifted themselves to 281 in the allotted fifty overs.
The second ball of the innings that Pat Cummins bowled at Rohit Sharma bore enough evidence that it was not going to be all about batting. The bounce and carry off the deck brought an immediate smile on the bowler's face and every time both Cummins and Nathan Coulter-Nile bent their backs, the ball zoomed past the shoulder of the bat. Just 10 runs off the first three overs ensured that the boundary-loving India openers were made to think, and when Ajinkya Rahane missed out on a free-hit ball, Coulter-Nile, cunningly, altered the length to get him caught behind off the next ball. India were one down, in no time.
While Australia could have had their next wicket in the form of Rohit, a rare, silly drop from Steven Smith at second slip ensured the opener lived long to fight another day. However, Kohli wasn't lucky, in fact was far from it when his airy square drive was intercepted by a flying Glenn Maxwell at point, who went one hand up and a few feet off the ground to come back safely with the ball. India lost their captain, for a duck. One ball later, Manish Pandey, preferred over KL Rahul as No. 4, nicked a full ball to the 'keeper and the hosts went crashing to 11 for 3.
Jadhav walked in ahead of Dhoni and started off positively with a couple of fours in as many overs. Rohit and Jadhav kept picking the singles and put the odd bad ball away to the fence, but the momentum lay with the tourists throughout the partnership. It was only when the Rohit-Jadhav stand had crossed the 50-run mark that the Aussies started to break a sweat.
Marcus Stoinis's introduction to the attack worked almost immediately as his nippy short ball got the better of Rohit, with the miscued pull landing safely in the hands of the fielder in the deep. Jadhav, however, continued to bat with lazy fluency, before almost turning his back on Dhoni. On an attempted single in the 22nd over, Dhoni had to return from the halfway mark, only to be revived by a poor throw from debutant Hilton Cartwright. A rare glance of anguish from the former skipper was followed by a lame pull shot from Jadhav. Stoinis's short ball seemed to stop on Jadhav as his miscued pull went straight to short mid-wicket.
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