Cricket: India claim ODI series opener against Australia

Dhoni steered India home yet again.
Dhoni steered India home yet again. Photo credit: Getty

MS Dhoni's finishing skills have thwarted Australia's hopes of an unlikely victory in Hyderabad, where India prevailed in a low-scoring ODI by six wickets with 10 balls to spare.

The composure of Dhoni proved the difference in the first chapter of the five- match series, as was the case during the final two games in the corresponding series between the sides in January.

The former skipper, playing his 527th international match, finished 59 not out to make it four consecutive half-centuries against Australia in the 50-over format.

Kedar Jadhav top-scored with an unbeaten 81, putting on a 141-run stand with Dhoni.

India's pursuit of a modest target of 237 hit a serious stumbling block when they crashed to 4-99, losing superstars Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma.

Dhoni took control of the chase in trademark style, batting conservatively at the outset then slowly but surely generating momentum as he and Jadhav ensured the required run-rate never got out of control.

The result leaves Australia with just four wins from the past 25 ODIs, underlining the perilous state of their World Cup defence, while Aaron Finch is still searching for form after managing a third-ball duck.

Adam Zampa, the only bowler to dismiss Kohli on the current tour, trapped the skipper lbw while Nathan Coulter-Nile removed potent openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan.

But Australia's attack didn't have enough runs to play with; analytic tool CricViz had given the visitors a 10 per cent chance of winning at the halfway point of the game.

A reshuffled batting order, in which Glenn Maxwell was promoted to No.5 and scored 40, scrapped together a total of 7-236.

Finch, who won a toss that proved pointless given Kohli said he wanted to chase anyway, was out edging to the top-ranked ODI bowler in the world Jasprit Bumrah.

The captain has now played 20 consecutive limited-overs innings for Australia without reaching 50.

Marcus Stoinis and Usman Khawaja staged a steady recovery, steering their side to 1-87 after 20 overs, but it was the team's only partnership of substance until Alex Carey and Coulter-Nile put on 62 runs during the final 10 overs.

Carey, who opened earlier this year in three one-dayers against India, was demoted to No.7 and finished 36 not out.

Khawaja, who top-scored with 50, Stoinis, Maxwell, Peter Handscomb and debutant Ashton Turner all made starts. But they failed to go on with it amid a flurry of needless dismissals and some fine bowling from left-arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav and veteran paceman Mohammed Shami.

The removal of Maxwell, who was comprehensively bowled by Shami, reduced the visitors to 6-173 and prompted Carey and Coulter-Nile to adopt a conservative approach.


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