Perth, Jan 12: Opener Rohit Sharma's magnificent 171* went in vain as Australia defeated Team India by five wickets in the in the first ODI of the five-match series at Perth's WACA. (India lose to Australia despite Rohit Sharma's record 171*)
Australian skipper Steve Smith's brilliant knock of 149 and George Bailey's 112 helped the hosts flay visitors' listless bowling attack en route a comprehensive victory by chasing down a total of 310 runs.
India reached a commanding 309 for three courtesy Rohit's unbeaten 171 off 163 balls, on one of the flattest WACA tracks in recent times. Virat Kohli's attractive 91 was the other significant contribution as the duo added record 207 runs for the second wicket. But their valiant effort was belittled by a staggering 242 run partnership between Smith and Bailey.
Here are the 5 reasons for Dhoni and Co's heartbreaking loss against Australia:
India fell short of 20-25 runs:
As the WACA pitch, today, was one of the flattest tracks in recent times, it was a batsmen's paradise and it was evident the way both the sides looked fairly comfortable against the pacers. Either of the two batting partnerships of the day i.e. Rohit-Virat and Smith-Bailey, proved the pitch gave full advantage to the batters if they overcome the early jitters and spend some time over the crease. (Records set by Rohit)
Batting first Team India piled a mammoth total of 309 runs on the scoreboard but looking at the condition of the track and the kind of pace attack the Indian side had, the experts felt that Dhoni and Co fell short of the 20 to 30 odd runs.
Had the target been 320-325 runs, Dhoni's men could have defended the game for the match went down the wire in the end as the asking rate in this case was approximately run-a-ball.
Pacers failed to capitalise over early breakthroughs:
Eversince the exit of Mohammed Shami, who was ruled out of the series owing to fresh injury, the Indian pace battery seemed losing its edge. The pace trio of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav and debutant Barinder Sran just failed to trouble the duo of Steve Smith and George Bailey, despite Barinder Sran's early exploits with the new ball.
Though Sran (3/56) impressed the experts with his quick deliveries after inflicting early damage over Australians, by getting the openers' wickets cheaply, his team mates failed to capitalise over the early breakthroughs.
The experienced Umesh Yadav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar failed to maintain the pressure over Australian batters.
Spinners disappointed the most:
It was the spin department that disappointed the most and eventually paved way for the loss. Team India's frontline bowler R Ashwin (2/68) and his deputy Ravindra Jadeja (0/61) even failed to complete their quota of 10 overs as they went for runs. It was a disappointing bowling performance, as this was only the sixth time that a 300-plus total was chased down in ODIs on the Australian soil.
Ashwin, the Tamil Nadu tweaker had a lot of success at home, managed to get two wickets but he was not at his economical best today. Same was the case with Jadeja who couldn't trap the Australians with his spin. It was during their bowling when Smith-Bailey stitched a comfortable partnership and steered their side off early hiccups. Ashwin leaked runs in his first spell
Poor fielding, as run-out chances were missed:
Team India's fielding wasn't upto the mark today either, specially when it came to saving singles. The close-in fielders like Virat Kohli, Ravindra Jadeja and Ajinkya Rahane had their chances of getting the batters run-out, but their throws missed the stumps on numerous ocassions. Had any of their attempted throws hit the stumps, Bailey and Smith could have departed cheaply. There were also some dropped catches from the Indian fielders.
George Bailey's dismissal on the very first ball:
If the umpire had given George Bailey 'out' on the very first delivery he played, the story could have been different today. 'Centurion' Bailey was caught behind the stumps by MS Dhoni on the very first ball he faced bowled by Sran.
While Dhoni looked confident, Sran did not even go up with an appeal. Bailey's reprieve really cost India, but a lack of DRS couldn't be blamed for this defeat. Along with Smith, he went about rebuilding the innings patiently and kept the scorecard ticking, looking to set the stage for a grandstand finish.
Thus, Men In Blue will now have to think over their bowling as they are down by 0-1 in the five-match series, else Australia will once again outclass them on its soil.