Team India began their final preparations for the ICC World Cup that it hosts in less than two weeks’ time with a confident five-wicket victory over Australia in the first of three ODIs on Friday.
Mohammed Shami led the way with a haul of 5/51, helping the Men in Blue bowl Australia out for 276 after opting to field. Shubman Gill (74) and Ruturaj Gaikwad (71) then got the hosts off to a solid start with a 142-run opening stand.
KL Rahul (58 not out) — leading the side in Rohit Sharma’s absence — and Suryakumar Yadav (50) then came to the rescue after India were reduced to 185/4 from 142/0, stitching an 80-run fifth-wicket stand that put them on the path to victory.
Surya, fighting for a place in India’s middle-order, was dismissed right after bringing up his half-century and was unable to see his team through to victory, the responsibility of which was ultimately fulfilled by Rahul with a four and a six off Sean Abbott in the penultimate over.
Surya, however, did make a strong claim for a place in the Indian middle-order with the temperament that he displayed during the pressure situation, maintaining a disciplined approach for the most part.
Shami, too, has made it all the more difficult for regular skipper Rohit Sharma and head coach Rahul Dravid to bench him with his five-wicket haul that came in energy-sapping conditions in Mohali.
The Bengal pacer ended up bagging the Player of the Match award for his efforts and commented on the testing conditions during the post-match presentation ceremony.
“It depends on the captain and the game situation, but despite the heat you feel like bowling 4-5 overs with the new ball. I enjoyed the wicket of Marsh, that’s a different feeling when you get the outside edge, when you control your swing nicely. It was important to hit the right lengths on this wicket, either at full pace or go slow, but bowling the right lengths were key,” Shami said during the post-match presentation ceremony.
India skipper KL Rahul too was happy with the commitment shown by his players in the hot and humid conditions in Mohali on Friday.
“I think the intensity in the afternoon was great, after Colombo this felt like heaven in the start but it was really hot and humid. It gets tough and physically challenging, but we’ve all worked on our fitness and that’s showing on the field,” said Rahul.
Suryakumar, meanwhile, reflected on what had been going wrong for him in the 50-over format all this while, and how he managed to rectify it tonight. Surya had been dismissed for a hat-trick of ducks during the three India-Australia ODIs that took place in March this year right after the Border-Gavaskar Trophy and spent a majority of the recently-concluded Asia Cup on the bench.
“I was dreaming of this type of innings when I started playing this format. Trying to bat deep and finishing the game, unfortunately couldn’t do it today but very happy with the result. I’d been wondering what had been happening for me in this format, the teams and bowlers were the same.
“I went back and reflected and realized I was probably rushing things a bit so I decided to play slower and take it deep. I think it’s the first time I haven’t played a sweep,” SKY said after India’s victory.