The first One Day International between India and Australia at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium ended up getting abandoned because of rain and a wet outfield. India were in a tricky position in their chase of 308 after losing Sachin Tendulkar in the last ball of the 2nd over to an inswinger from Mitchell Johnson. A few balls later, the Umpires decided to take the players off the park as it started to rain heavily to hardly give any chance for the groundstaff to do the recovery process. At 20:55 local time, the Umpires thought that the outfield was too wet to have any further play. It’s not just the right kind of season to play cricket in India and rain might have a considerable say in this 7-match series.
The day started off on a bright and sunny note. It was MS Dhoni’s first ODI as the Indian Captain and for the first time was having the three big guns of Indian Cricket under his control. It was Gilchrist winning the toss and opting to bat first on a good track that did have the lift to encourage the fast bowlers. Zaheer and Sreesanth struck vital blows when they got rid of Gilchrist (12 from 11) and Brad Hodge (0 in 5 balls) very early in the innings to put the Aussies on the backfoot. It started off with a brilliant catch at point from Yuvraj Singh who is hardly doing anything wrong on a cricket field these days. The Indians had made two surprising omissions by not including Robin Uthappa (who was not fit today according to the Captain) and Harbhajan Singh sitting out for Ramesh Powar. The Aussies had Brad Haddin coming in for Ricky Ponting and James Hopes for Michael Hussey. They also included Bradley Hogg, the chinaman bowler after a long time in their line-up. With two early wickets going down, Matt Hayden in the company of Michael Clarke had to concentrate on building up a partnership before the two started to build the momentum with a flurry of boundaries.
It looked clear that Sreesanth and RP Singh weren’t really fresh after their heroics in the Twenty20 World Cup which got over only a few days back. At Drinks, Aussies were back on the track but an over ambitious shot from Matt Hayden once again pushed them back. Haydos was once again done in by Sreesanth, an ugly heave over mid wicket was completely missed to get the furniture disturbed. Hayden made 34 in 39 with 5 fours and a six while contributing 60 runs with Clarke. In the 17th over, the Indians got another big wicket that of Andrew Symonds and once again Sreesanth was the wicket taker. Symonds was foxed by the back of the hand slower delivery from Sreesanth to which he had played little too early in his flick shot to miss the ball completely and get struck right in front of the stumps. Symonds was out for a 7 ball-7 and the Aussies now in a vulnerable position at 90 for 4.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni was on the top of the world bringing on many field changes. He even persisted with a couple of slips for the new batsman Brad Haddin. The new man Haddin was greeted with a beamer at 144kmph by Sreesanth but the batsman wasn’t going to be too rattled by that and he started to build a vital partnership with Michael Clarke. Ramesh Powar couldn’t hold onto a good loop and the runs started to flow from his bowling. The two batsmen Clarke and Haddin got things under their control and now the Aussies were in a great position to get a formidable total. Both batsmen eased through their respective half centuries and in the process put on the highest 5th wicket partnership at this venue. Haddin was finally dismissed in the 42nd over, stumped by Dhoni off Yuvraj but not before he had put on 144 runs along with Clarke for the 5th wicket. Haddin got 69 in 83 with 7 fours and a six. Haddin might have been gone but Michael Clarke wasn’t finished yet. He cracked up his third century after being helped by some lousy full tosses from Ramesh Powar and with James Hopes batting really well, the Australians piled up a huge score of 307 for 7. The Indian bowling was very bad towards the death with even Zaheer Khan bowling plenty of full tosses and often not getting the yorkers right. Michael Clarke had gone onto register the highest score at this Stadium, 130 in 132 with 10 fours and 3 sixes. He was run out in the last ball of the innings unfortunately which denied him the opportunity of staying unbeaten. This was the same ground where Michael Clarke had registered a century on Test Debut on the last tour. James Hopes contributed very well with his 25-ball 37 that had four boundaries.
Sreesanth was the pick of the bowlers by a long way with his 3 for 55 in his 10 overs and the second best was Irfan Pathan with none for 38 in 8. Pathan was economical but just couldn’t give the breakthroughs that have kept the total down. Ramesh Powar after starting off with a maiden was taken for 50 runs in his 6 overs! The Indians had opened their batting with Tendulkar and Gambhir as Sourav Ganguly had pulled off a hamstring injury while fielding. It started to drizzle at the start of the innings and got big enough for the play to be suspended. But the Umpires just waited for a few extra minutes and in that time, Tendulkar lost his wicket to a peach of a delivery from Mitchell Johnson to be dismissed for a six-ball duck. India sent in Irfan Pathan to do the pinch hitting but he didn’t have to face a single delivery as the rain brought the curtains down to the match with India at 9 for 1 in 2.4. Gambhir was unbeaten on 4 from 10 by then with a boundary over point.
New ICC Rules come into play
The new ICC Rules which were supposed to come in effect from October 1st were implemented from this match. There is now a ‘Free Hit’ for a frontfoot noball and the fielding Captain can have a third fielder outside the 30 yards circle in either the second or the third powerplay. The other two rules were that of a mandatory ball change at the start of the 35th over for both sides and the dimensions of the ground being increased. Square boundaries were increased to a minimum of 150 yards from the previous 140 (the distance between one end of the ground to the other with a minimum of 65 yards on both sides of the wicket) and straight boundaries to a minimum of 70 yards from what was 65 before this series. In this first ODI between India and Australia, the ‘Free Hit’ wasn’t possible as the two noballs that were bowled happened to be for height and not for overstepping. The ‘Free Hit’ might make its Debut during the first ODI between Sri Lanka and England which starts on the 1st of October. The next match between India and Australia is on the 2nd at Kochi which has an early start at 9:00 AM.