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The months of turmoil and uncertainty for the game of cricket on Friday brought a sense of relief as we knew and loved it.
The result of the first ODI between Australia and India was significant – the hosts won by 66 runs – but it was not as much of a spectacle as it was a spectacle for many observers.
In just the second ODI on these shores in 679 days, nearly 20,000 amateur fans flocked to SCG. Filled and enjoyed a fun match between the two biggest attractions of the game.
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Glenn Maxwell extinguished, Josh Hazlewood rose to prominence and Steve Smith once again left us in complete disbelief when Australia started the men’s international summer as cricket.
India also presented some brief, breath-taking moments, and was inspired by a huge vocal play that took everyone back to a time when the crowd was an authority, not an authority.
In the end, they were disappointed as India were unable to chase Australia’s total score of 6-374 – the highest 50-over score since the pool stage of the 2019 World Cup.
This pursuit has always been a big question for visitors as only two successful ODI targets of over 300 were met in the SCG, and none exceeded 334.
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Surprisingly, after a moment of Michelle Stark’s madness, it briefly landed on the cards that sent the second-worst opener in ODI history.
The left-arm batsman bowled one off four balls and smashed 20 off 11 balls before India reached 0-53 off their first 30 balls.
Fortunately for Australia and Starc, Hazelwood (3-55) took three wickets in the next five overs, including Virat Kohli’s crucial scalp.
If anyone was going to chase the monster for India, it was Kozar, who seemed ready to make cash in his second life. Adam Jampa dropped 1. But that was not to be. The Indian captain, who misused Hazelwood’s lead, was caught by Aaron Finch for 21.
Shreyas Aiyar then entered the sheds in two balls and India ate so much to climb the mountain.
Hardik Pandya and Shikhar Dhawan definitely gave it a good performance. Scores of 90 and 74, respectively, kept India’s weak hopes alive until Zampa ended his opposition with wickets in the 35th and 39th overs. Zampa also took the wickets of KL Rahul (12) and Ravindra Jadeja (25) 4-54 the night before.
While batting, India reached the full division of the overs at 8-308 which was a long night which ended at 11.09 pm due to Australia’s slow over rate.
It was the common skeptic who hit a magnificent century with Finch (114) to give Australia the lead, while David Warner (69) and Maxwell (45) provided cameos.
But the star man was once again Smith, who scored the third fastest ODI century by an Australian.
The batting Maharaja said during the week that he got his hands in the net after a disappointing IPL campaign – he claimed that he hit 11 fours, four sixes and his 10th ODI century on Friday.
Tone came in just 62 balls – the fact that his first 30 runs on a run-ball came as a surprise.
He was finally bowled out for 105 by Mohammad Shami (3-59) and left the field with him in special Smith fashion.
Earlier, Finch decided to bat in good conditions after winning the toss and disappointed the Indian bowlers till the 28th over when Shami took the first wicket of Warner.
Finch continued to work with Smith and scored his 17th ODI century before saluting Heaven; A tribute to his friend Philip Higgins, whose death was remembered six years ago during a match at 4.08 pm.
India then threatened to return to the fray when Finch Jasprat Bumrah (1-73) was caught behind for a failed play, while Marcus Stones hit Yuvendra Chahal (1-89) for the golden goat.
But it did bring Maxwell to the crease, who did not give up, hitting four fours and three sixes in a quick 45 off 19 balls.
He fell slightly short of his half-century when he was caught in the deep, while Marnus Labuschen (2) soon joined the sheds in the same shed.
With his departure, Smith cleared the stage, giving the Australian innings a brilliant touch with a memorable performance that was worth the wait, and did justice to the occasion.
The three-match series will be played at SCG on Sunday night. Before the teams relocate to the Manuka Oval for Wednesday’s decision before resuming.
Australia could miss Stones, who left the field in the second innings with a side complaint.