India were lucky to have finished the opening game of the CB Series against Australia with two points after a bad batting performance. Rain was there before the match, during the match and after the match to play spoilsport and to force the homeside to share the points in an abandoned affair. India’s experiment in Youth yet again backfired with a batting collapse but there was the spark in their cricket which provided plenty of freshness.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni took the brave decision of batting first under overcast conditions. India were put on the backfoot with the loss of its openers – Sehwag and Tendulkar. Sehwag played a dreadful cut shot back onto his stumps off Bracken and then Tendulkar for the first time in his ODI career was dismissed ‘hit wicket’. Tendulkar looked pretty good until his backfoot touched the stumps while trying to run one down the legs off Brett Lee. India wasn’t looking good at 26 for 2 with the batting having plenty of inexperienced blokes. Inexperience was also a part of the Australian bowling as debutant Ashley Noffke showed that. Noffke came in as one change and in his very first over released the pressure by offering plenty of lose deliveries to Gautam Gambhir. Rohit Sharma, the other batsman got together with Gambhir after that to play some scintillating cricket whether it was scoring some blazing boundaries or stealing singles infront of the infielders.
Australia’s fielding came apart as well owing to the dazzling strokeplay from the Indians and Gambhir was dropped twice in the slips in an over from Mitchell Johnson. But the left hander didn’t kick onto utilize those opportunities after paying mistake for playing one right across the line to the same bowler to be adjudged lbw. Gambhir made 39 with 4 fours from 51 balls in a partnership of 65. Rohit Sharma like Gambhir lacked the longevity in his good innings and he kicked the dust playing a needless cut shot to a Lee delivery that was very close to his body to be caught behind. Rohit made just the 29 runs (from 43 balls with 5 fours) but he looked sensational with his cover drives and square drives. Lee then yorked debutant Manoj Tiwary to get India at 94 for 5 in the 23rd over. The visitors were soon 102 for 6 when Ashley Noffke got his maiden wicket after digging one into the body of Robin Uthappa, who was caught fending that. India then had no option but to bat out a few overs which MS Dhoni and Pathan did before rain halted the innings for the first time with India at 128 for 6 in 36 overs.
The match was curtailed to 45 overs after the rain interruption which meant that India had to up the ante for a decent finish. India did well in that aspect getting to 194 despite losing all its wickets. Dhoni with 37 (from 61 balls with a boundary), Irfan Pathan (21 from 40 balls with a six) and Harbhajan with 27 (from 19 balls with 3 fours) were instrumental in getting India to a competitive total. Australia began their chase in a hurry through James Hopes and Gilchrist but India got rid off the latter before another rain break to have them at 33 for 1 in 4 overs. Gilchrist had decided to walk back to the pavilion honestly after he had got a touch on his gloves in an attempted pull off Sreesanth. After a long rain break, the players returned back for what would be the last phase of the game. It was a different game altogether this time round with the pitch getting freshened up and the ball starting to seam around both ways.
Both Ishant Sharma and Sreesanth bowled magic deliveries that saw the end of Hopes and Ponting in the space of three balls. First Hopes was cleaned up by an incoming delivery from Ishant and then Ponting was forced to nick an unplayable away seamer from Sreesanth, which was beautifully caught infront of the face of Tendulkar by the second slip fielder Sehwag. Australia finished the match at 51 for 3 in 7.2 overs before rain brought a total end to the opening game. Brett Lee was the best player on the park with rich figures of 9-2-27-5.