India put in a polished performance against Australia in Chennai on Sunday (October 8) to begin their World Cup campaign with a victory. India’s spin trio of Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, and R Ashwin caused problems on a slower surface to restrict Australia to 199 before KL Rahul and Virat Kohli led the chase.
By any measure of the imagination, India’s pursuit was anything but simple. An encore was in store for a team that had been reduced to 5/3 in their previous World Cup encounter in 2019. Ishan Kishan wasted his opportunity to replace Shubman Gill by chasing a wide delivery and being caught at slip in the first over. More anguish was in store in the second over of the chase, as Josh Hazlewood stunned the audience and the dressing room by removing both Rohit Sharma and Shreyas Iyer for ducks.
India could have been in worse difficulty if Australia had taken advantage of an opening presented by Kohli when he miscued a pull shot a few overs later. Unfortunately, Mitchell Marsh did not use the opportunity, and Kohli adopted a more reserved demeanor. India had only 27 points at the end of the powerplay but gradually began to establish themselves, adding 53 in the next ten minutes. While India’s spinners had a field day, Adam Zampa and Glenn Maxwell were unable to replicate their success.
Kohli took Cameron Green out of the attack by clipping him for consecutive boundaries, while Rahul was positive against Zampa in his opening over, fetching three boundaries. Following that, the partnership was content to rotate the strike and score at the required pace of four runs each over. As the two batters got closer to the objective, they began to open up a little more, and Kohli fell for 85, giving Hazlewood his third wicket. Rahul then came within four runs of a century before falling short by four runs.
Earlier in the day, India’s spin trio upset Australia in the middle overs, sparking a collapse in which Australia was bowled out for 199. Marsh pushed one behind to slip for a duck early in the innings, but David Warner and Steve Smith stabilized the innings by batting cautiously on a challenging surface. Smith was harsh on anything bowled too full or too short, as Hardik Pandya discovered, and India’s decision to bring on Ashwin early also failed.
Australia were 71/1 after 15 overs, with both batters looking set. Kuldeep then provided a critical breakthrough when Warner chipped one back to him, and Jadeja then took over to completely cripple the former world champions. The left-arm spinner managed one to turn and struck Smith’s off stump before dismissing both Marnus Labuschagne and Alex Carey in the same over.
The wickets continued to fall as Australia’s final known pair of Maxwell and Green failed to save the day. Maxwell was stumped by Kuldeep, and Green gave Ashwin his first wicket, taking Australia from 111/2 to 140/7. Things could have gone much worse for Australia if Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc hadn’t come up with some crucial runs at the finish. That just served to postpone the inevitable, as India cruised home with 52 balls to spare.
Australia 199 in 49.3 overs (Steve Smith 46, David Warner 41; Ravindra Jadeja 3/28) lost by six wickets to India 201/4 in 41.2 overs (KL Rahul 96*, Virat Kohli 85; Josh Hazlewood 3/38).