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Rohit, Dhoni battle to keep India in the game

ESPNCricInfo
12 Jan 2019, 18:42 GMT+10

3:00 AM ET

Australia 5 for 288 (Handscomb 73, Khawaja 59, S Marsh 54) v India

Australia's Test match turned one-day middle order struck a trio of half-centuries but overall it felt like another underwhelming limited-overs display as they posted 5 for 288 at the SCG. Usman Khawaja and Peter Handscomb both passed 50 on their ODI comebacks alongside Shaun Marsh, yet India's attack was rarely dominated.

There was a 45-ball period without a boundary from the 37th to the 44th over. Handscomb tried to give the innings some late impetus, finishing with a well-complied 73 off 61 balls when he was caught at deep cover the ball after Ambati Rayudu palmed a chance over the long-leg boundary for six, but Marcus Stoinis struggled to get going in his unbeaten 47 off 43 balls although in the end the final 10 overs brought 93 runs.

India had a disrupted build-up to the match with Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul being sent home following their comments on Indian TV, and opted for an attack that included Ravindra Jadeja as the allrounder and Khaleel Ahmed as the third quick. Their frontline spinners, Kuldeep Yadav and Jadeja, bowled 20 overs to take 3 for 102.

Bhuvneshwar set an impressive tone with the new ball, claiming his 100th ODI wicket when he nipped one back to beat Aaron Finch in the third over, but left-armer Khaleel was less impressive and twice over-stepped in his opening spell.

One of the free hits was put away by Alex Carey, opening for the first time in ODIs, but just as he was finding his stride he cut a ball from Kuldeep to slip where Rohit Sharma held a very sharp chance. Australia's Powerplay total was a very retro 2 for 41 which led to a further period of cautious batting from Khawaja and Marsh as they attempted to lay a platform rather than take the innings by the scruff of the neck.

Something a touch more adventurous brought up Australia's 100 in the 23rd over when Khawaja reverse swept Jadeja, then he took advantage of some dross from Rayudu who made an unexpected appearance with the ball. India had opted to leave Kedar Jadhav out of their XI and it felt as though they missed his (very) round-arm offspin.

Khawaja brought up his fifty from 70 balls but did not go much further when he was lbw sweeping at Jadeja with an umpire's call on hitting leg stump upholding the on-field decision.

Marsh, who has been the team's form one-day player in the last eight months, played the sort of the innings Australia would have liked to see more of in the Test series although pinned his ears back to bring up fifty from 65 deliveries with a rasping cut. He needed to bat through the innings and double his score but picked out long-on in the first over of Kuldeep's second spell to terminate another stand just as Australia were hoping to accelerate.

The innings was then becalmed as Handscomb and Stoinis dealt in singles: there was a period of more than six overs from the start of the 37th (before Marsh was dismissed) until the 43rd when it was the only scoring method. The pair finally broke free with a six apiece in Kuldeep's final over but it was hard work.

Handscomb's innings did include some touches of class including two sweetly timed back-to-back boundaries off Bhuvneshwar early in his stay and a superbly timed drive over the off side against the same bowler at the death. Picked largely on his skills against spin, he scored 26 off the 24 balls he faced from Kuldeep and Jadeja. When he carved Bhuvneshwar to the deep it brought Glenn Maxwell to the crease with 16 balls of the innings remaining, and he scored 11 runs off the five balls he faced.

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