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Aus vs Ind | 1st ODI: What Experts said as Australia punish listless India

Australia defeated India by 66 runs in the first game of the three-match ODI series in Sydney. The Kangaroos posted a mammoth 374 runs on the board on the back of powerful centuries from Steve Smith and Aaron Finch as well as valuable contributions from David Warner and Glenn Maxwell. Indians were off to a rapid start as Mitchell Starc bowled one of the worst overs he has delivered in his career to start off the inning but wickets at regular intervals took the game away from them. 

Later, Hardik Pandya and Shikhar Dhawan tried to resurrect the inning but the Aussies were aware of the lack of depth in Indian batting. Once the duo departed, the chase became improbable for the Men in Deep Blue.

So, the Indian team is off to a poor start in the ODI series against Australia. The home team's batting lineup went into overdrive mode and punished all the offerings from the Indian side on a placid pitch at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Australia captain Aaron Finch won the toss and decided to make the first use of a batting-friendly pitch. His team piled on the runs leading to a score that proved out of the grasp of Indian top order. As a result, they went searching for too many runs in the powerplay overs.

Captains’ take

Losing captain Virat Kohli lamented the passive body language that his side showed on the field. He backed off from giving any excuses, such as an extended period of T20 games, for this dismal performance, especially in the bowling and fielding department. He expressed his disappointment with the fielding lapses and dropped catches. Kohli said that a quality team like Australia would hurt the opposition if they are given so many chances.

“We got enough time to prepare. I don't think there is any excuse on the field when you don't pull up as a side. Probably the first long game we've played in a while. We've been playing T20 cricket. But having said that, we've all played a lot of ODI cricket. The body language after 25-26 overs was disappointing. A quality side will hurt you,” Kohli stated at the post-match presentation ceremony.

Discussing the lack of bowling options, the Indian skipper added that the team needs an over or two from part-timers in the middle phase of the game, like Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis did for Australia. He reiterated that Hardik Pandya is yet to get fit enough to bowl and that makes his job a tricky one while trying to find the perfect balance. Virat lamented that his bowlers were not up to the mark to pick up regular wickets and therefore the Australian batting lineup ended up running away with the game.

“We'll have to find out ways of getting a few overs from a few part-timers in the side. Unfortunately, Hardik is not ready to bowl yet so we have to accept that and work around it. That is an area we have looked at, which is a very big part of any team's balance. Stoinis and Glenn do it for Australia. The key to keeping the batsmen in check is picking up wickets and we couldn't do that,” the India captain said.

He also discussed the batting tactics that his team adopted in the powerplay overs. According to him, Indian batsmen were committed to playing positive cricket. However, Kohli also believed that one among the top three had to get a daddy hundred, a score in excess of 130-140. The team suffered as it wasn't the case and both him and Agarwal went cheaply while in search of quick runs at the top of the innings.

“From the batting point of view, we had a chat briefly after the game. All of us committed to playing positively and that's why you saw everyone go out there and play with intent. We just need to have a big inning from the top three, 130 or 140, which didn't happen, unfortunately. Hardik's inning was an example of that,” the 32-year old said while elaborating on the outlook of his team's batting lineup in the failed chase.

All humour was not lost in Kohli as he remarked that he will don the bowling avatar when his Australian counterpart is at the crease. The reason given was his knowledge that Finch is afraid of getting out to his RCB captain. 

On the other side, for Aaron Finch, it was a team effort that won the game. He personally felt a bit of difficulty in timing the ball during the middle phase of the game.

“I found it reasonably hard to get my timing in the middle overs. Took a couple of chances and luckily they came off,” he mentioned about his batting at the SCG.

Responding to the question of whether he or any of his teammates had a target score on their minds, the skipper added that they were not targeting any score from the outset. Instead, it were continuous partnerships that propelled them to a big total.

“There was no conscious effort to say we're going to go and target x, y, z. As partnerships grow, you work it out. Each guy has different strengths and weaknesses."

Finch spoke highly of his batting partners and said that Steve Smith was a class apart while David Warner got the thing he is working on going for him in the first ODI. He also commended the extraordinary shotmaking skills of Glenn Maxwell and said that it merely requires switching on for the right-hander when the team needs to put pressure on the opposition.

“Davey (Warner) is moving beautifully, something he's been working on. Smudge (Smith) was a different class altogether. And Maxi (Maxwell), that rare ability he's got to almost just click his fingers and put pressure back on the opposition. Super skill! Some of those reverses were extraordinary," the captain explained. 

Experts’ take

Virat Kohli has been one of the best batsmen when it comes to chasing. His impeccable skills of timing his assault on the opposition bowling line ups have been exemplary. But, at the SCG, Indian captain looked in a hurry and tried to be too ambitious in the powerplay overs. One of the most unusual scenes in cricketing world is Virat Kohli losing the vision in his batting and it was big enough to catch the attention of an ace cricket watcher - commentator Harsha Bhogle. The latter readily pointed out that Indian captain failed to pick up the pace of the game and went to the pavilion on a very middling score by his standards.

On the other hand, Hardik Pandya who batted magnificently for 90 runs earned plaudits from Harsha Bhogle who could see his capabilities beyond six-hitting and flamboyance. Pandya looked assured at the crease and his calmness while maintaining run rate with lusty blows showed the level of maturity Pandya has attained as a batsman of the side. He repaid the faith shown by Virat Kohli in laying him as a specialist lower-order batsman.

Earlier in the day, when Aaron Finch and Steve Smith were going berserk with the bat and tonking Indian bowlers to all parts of the ground, Harsha wondered if RCB fans were wondering about Aaron Finch who played for them in the IPL and the one playing at the SCG were two different players. 

Harsha also lauded Steve Smith who took on the bowlers after steadying himself at the crease. In Harsha's words, Smith made the best use of the hands Smith recently found after while training under a quarantine period.

On the other hand, former England captain Michael Vaughan was not pleased one bit by the level of performance of the Indian team and he stuck his neck out and predicted easy wins for the home side across formats against India.

Vaughan also called the composition of the Indian playing XI with only five bowling options and limited batting depth an ‘old schooled’ one. 

He went ahead and listed many more observations that he made during the course of the 1st ODI and said that the ODI series and following T20 and Test series will prove to be a tough and long tour of the Indian team.

Veteran Cricket journalist Ayaz Memon had predicted way early that the Indian batting line up was up for a stiff chase after the Australian opening pair of David Warner and Aaron Finch made the Indian pace trio of Mohammed Shami, Navdeep Saini quite ineffective on an SCG pitch that appeared nothing better than a road.

Steve Smith turned an already commanding position of Australia into a dominating one by smashing Indian bowlers for his 66-ball-105. Memon, too, was awestruck by the ease with which Smith was dominating the Indian bowling attack.

No matter how short or long Virat Kohli’s stays at the crease, more often than not he makes a mark and he did not miss out in Sydney as well when he nonchalantly flicked a Josh Hazlewood’s delivery after picking up on length to a fairly long six over square leg. 

Big players of past generations such as Mark Vaugh who himself is known for stroke-making judged that shot as the shot of the match while Shane Warne called the shot as one of the purest shots of Virat Kohli. Memon, too, was amazed by that shot and commended Kohli for picking the length and line of the delivery so early to be in a perfect position.

The Indian team was proved to be an ordinary bowling team on a placid SCG pitch and Virat Kohli will have to come back with a better-balanced approach and team to challenge these Australian batsmen if the nature of the pitches is going to be the same for the rest of the series.

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Most exciting day in Test cricket history can now be watched on YouTube

High-quality batting, top-class bowling, intense drama, flaring tempers, twists and turns – that day of cricket had everything. It was May 12, 2003 – the fourth day of the final Test in a four-game series between Australia and West Indies. The venue was Antigua and the match had gained great importance. Brian Lara-led West Indies had lost all the three Tests in the series so far. If they had lost this match as well, it would have been the first whitewash suffered by that illustrious cricketing nation at home, in a series of four matches or more. What followed was a day of cricket with unprecedented drama and action in the annals of cricket. Thanks to Cricket West Indies, all that action can be relived, or experienced as a viewer for the first time. But before we tell you how, let's give you a summary of what transpired on that day in Antigua and why it is so historic. How the match set-up? Steve Waugh’s Australian team, at the peak of their powers at the time, seemed highly likely to condemn their opponents to the ignominy of a home whitewash. But the hosts, still boasting a group of highly-capable batsmen, were not going to go down without a fight. They managed to restrict Australia to just 240 in the first innings. However, they also scored the exact same number of runs in their first innings. Matthew Hayden’s big hundred led Australia to 417 in their second innings, giving West Indies a target of 418 to win the match and avoid the whitewash. Time was not an issue. Things seemed bad for the beleaguered Caribbean side, especially since such a big target had never been successfully chased before in Test cricket. Roller-coaster ride on Day 4 On the penultimate day of the match, at the famous Antigua Recreation Ground, West Indies lost the wickets of their openers – Chris Gayle and Devon Smith – early. Darren Ganga, who had scored two hundreds in the series so far, was also dismissed cheaply when the score was at 74. Hosts seemed doomed. But then, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Brian Lara, the latter in great form throughout the series, decided to dig in and fight it out. Lara soon started unleashing those strokes from his repertoire which used to mesmerize all connoisseurs of the game. Not surprisingly, he decided to most severely attack Stuart MacGill – the leading spinner for Australia due to the ban on Shane Warne for taking banned substances. In his characteristic style, Lara charged down the wicket several times to the leg-spinner and hit him over long-on for sixes. The partnership between Lara and Sarwan bloomed and the score reached 165. But then, at the personal score of 60, Lara came down the wicket to MacGill again, only to be beaten this time by the leggie. The ball went through the left-hander’s defences and hit the stumps. This brought to the wicket West Indies batting line-up’s rock, Shivnarine Chanderpaul. The two Guyanese batsmen then formed a wonderful partnership that started to revive West Indies’ hopes. In the meanwhile, Glenn McGrath, whom we later learned had just discovered about his wife’s cancer, got into a very ugly verbal spat with Sarwan which involved blatant finger-pointing and vile personal abuses. The highly animated West Indian crowds let McGrath have a piece of their mind when he went to field on the boundary after this altercation. Waugh then changed McGrath’s position to get him away from the Windies supporters’ ire. But this didn’t derail the partnership and Sarwan eventually reached his hundred. Following a 123-run partnership, Sarwan was dismissed when he top-edged a pull shot off a Brett Lee delivery. After taking the catch off his own bowling, Lee rushed towards McGrath and grabbed his legs to hoist him up. The score was 288/5. The very next delivery was a sharp bouncer from Lee that lobbed up in the air after hitting the new batsman Ridley Jacobs’ elbow. However, the pacer started celebrating even before wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist took the catch. After much wait, umpire David Shepherd raised his finger, much to the amazement of the batsman. When the replay was shown on the big screen and the error of the umpire revealed, angry crowds couldn’t hold back their emotions and started throwing bottles and other stuff on the field of play. After a brief halt, play resumed. Amidst, all this drama, Chanderpaul retained his unflinching focus and continued to bat smoothly. Eventually, the left-hander reached his century. The man at the other end, 20-year-old spinner Omari Banks, came close to getting out on multiple occasions. He was dropped in the slips twice and another edge went over the cordon. Conclusion of the story But Chanderpaul and Banks saw the day’s play to a close, adding 83 for the seventh wicket. West Indies now needed just 47 to win on the final day. Despite losing the wicket of Chanderpaul with the addition of just one run on day 5, the hosts ended up making the world record for the highest successful chase thanks to Banks and the number 9 batsman Vasbert Drakes. How to watch it all? Now, you can watch almost the entire innings, with all the drama on day 4 of the Test, on YouTube thanks to West Indies cricket board’s YouTube channel. The nearly 8-hour video would take you down the memory lane and also let you witness one of the greatest days in Test cricket history.


AUS vs IND | 1st ODI: Hundreds from Smith & Finch ensure Aussies take lead

With Jasprit Bumrah playing and missing the last delivery of the 50th over by Mitchell Starc, India succumbed to its fourth consecutive ODI loss, the first post the lockdown. The Indian inning, which apart from the Hardik Pandya- Shikhar Dhawan partnership, never really got going finished at 308/8, thereby losing the game by 66 runs, giving Australia a 1-0 lead in the three-match ODI series. Pandya- Dhawan resurrection The Indian innings was marred by the loss of early wickets as the much-fancied players in skipper Virat Kohli, vice-captain KL Rahul and IPL star Shreyas Iyer fell without giving much trouble to the scorers. At one stage the Indian team was staring at defeat with 101/4 in just 13 overs. The fast start by Mayank Agarwal and Dhawan couldn’t be cashed in by the top order when Pandya, 27, joined Dhawan, who was middling the ball really well. The two built a partnership of 129 runs in the next 21 overs at more than run a bowl and gave the Indian fans some hope, before Dhawan was caught off a nothing delivery from Zampa, most probably melting under the pressure of the mounting required rate. However, these 129 runs had given some hope, and most importantly a set Hardik Pandya was at the crease, courtesy of that partnership. However, Ravindra Jadeja, who joined Pandya, couldn’t keep up with the run rate and increased Pandya’s workload, leading to a miss-timed shot by him, giving Zampa another breakthrough. Post this, it was all formalities. The early collapse In such a huge run-chase, India’s top order was required to form a base, much like what was done by David Warner and Aaron Finch for Australia, instead they crumbled like a pack of cards, trying to play shots, which were never in the offing. While Mayank Agarwal rushed through his onn-drive and gave away superb start that he and Dhawan had given to the chase. Kohli, 32, was given a chance very early in his innings, when he was dropped by Zampa at fine leg. But he couldn’t convert it as a short ball from Hazelwood got the better off him, when he handed the ball right into his opposite number’s hand, who had placed himself at silly mid-on just for that. Iyer was caught napping in another short ball as it climbed on him, exposing his poor technique. All of these batsmen got out because of some brilliant bowling Hazelwood, KL Rahul’s dismissal though was probably the softest as he managed to hit a full toss to Steven Smith mid-off. The entire top order, apart from Dhawan was in the dressing room when the team’s score was just 101 runs while chasing 375, painting a sorry picture of the batting order. Smith found his hand indeed Earlier in the day, Australia, winning the toss had decided to bat first and then proved their decision right as the openers in captain Aaron Finch and experienced David Warner added 156 for the first wicket in 28 overs, giving the attacking middle-order batsmen a solid launchpad. While Warner got out for just 69, Finch went on to score, what would turn out to be his 16th ODI hundred, also becoming the second-fastest Australian to reach 5000 ODI runs (126 innings), just behind David Warner (115 innings). The laid down foundation however was used not by a big hitter like Marcus Stoinis or Maxwell, but rather by a calm and composed Smith, who hit the third fastest 100 in Australia’s ODI history, scoring the century at just 62 balls. Smith who had said before the match that he had found his hands (after a dismal performance in the IPL), scored freely with awes trucking lofted cover drives which went for six over cover, a rare sight in ODIs. In total he made 105 off just 66 balls, taking Australia to a more than healthy total of 374. Maxwell’s 19 balls 45 must not be sidelined among some glittery performances as it provided the much-needed impetus on which Smith build his innings. A curious case of dropping catches The old saying of 'catches win matches' is a work of pure genius as there hasn’t been an instance when the team has dropped a lot of catches and had still gone on to win the match. It was proved today as well, when the butterfingers of the Indian unit along with huge judgment errors on the part of the fielders resulted in a great number of drop catches, so much so that, Smith was dropped twice and so was Maxwell. And they made the Indian team for those drops in quite a fashion. The culprits for the dropped catches were Dhawan, Yuzvendra Chahal, Iyer, Mayank, and Hardik Pandya. Sixth bowler: A major pain for the Indian think tank The problem of Pandya not being able to bowl has caused a lot of pain for the Indian team as there was not even a single member in the playing eleven who could be entrusted with bowling 4-5 overs when one of the five main bowlers have an off day. This resulted in what was a butchering of bowlers by Maxwell and Smith as in one over of Chahal, Maxwell hit 21 runs, making him the costliest spinner in India’s ODI history as Chahal finished with figures of 1/89 in his 10 overs. Other bowlers weren’t spared either as most of them returned with near 6 or above economy rates. Even the much-fancied Bumrah (1/73 in his 10 overs) was taken to the cleaners by the Australian batsmen. What’s next? Next on the menus is the do or die game for Indian which would take place at the same venue on Sunday. Changes in the team are a must especially in the case of having a sixth bowler, however, the team really doesn’t have a choice as to do so, it would have to drop a batsman, which isn’t an ideal situation either, considering India’s performance with the bat. With problems plenty, it would be exciting to see how does captain Kohli tackles this situation.


Couldn't watch New Zealand vs West Indies? Here's why

The first T20I in a three-match series between hosts New Zealand and West Indies turned out to be a high-voltage affair, albeit in a truncated form. The Kiwis were able to register an impressive 5-wicket win in this 16 overs-a-side match after the Windies recovered from 59/5 to post 180/7 in their innings. But if you were an Indian cricket fan who wanted to watch this match, alongside or instead of the India vs Australia ODI, you would have been left frustrated searching for the live telecast on TV and prominent streaming platforms. So, where was the live coverage? Well, the answer lies in the new deal that New Zealand Cricket (NZC) has signed for the coverage of cricket they host in India. Till now, matches played in New Zealand were telecasted by the Star Sports network through their channels and Hotstar on internet. But now, NZC has struck a deal with Amazon that gives the latter’s video streaming platform – Amazon Prime Video - the exclusive rights to telecast cricket played in New Zealand in India. This is a major breakthrough for Amazon as they enter the cricket telecast market for the first time. Amazon Prime Video has been making quite a splash in the entertainment sector with various movies and drama series gaining attention. The gaining of cricket broadcasting rights might signal Amazon India’s intention to get into the cricket broadcasting business in a big way. It already streams sports like football and tennis from prestigious tournaments. The deal with last until the 2025/26 season. New Zealand Cricket’s broadcasting rights don’t have as much value in India as those of Australia and England in India due to the inconvenient timings. Test matches in the country get underway at 3:30 AM IST while even the day-night ODIs have to begin very early in the morning. Still, international cricket’s value as a television commodity remains substantial. The improved performances of the Kiwi side as well as the growing popularity of cricketers from the country also provide some special attraction to the matches played New Zealand.