Australia’s World Cup campaign has got off to an ordinary start, as their batting line-up failed to fire, with India winning by six wickets in their opening match at Chennai on Sunday.
The Australians have now drifted to $6 to win the Cricket World Cup and will have to do it having suffered their first loss in an opening World Cup match since 1992.
Australia briefly threatened to defend their paltry 199, when they had India at 3-2, but Virat Kohli and KL Rahul steered India home with an outstanding 165-run stand.
Australia will rue missing an opportunity when Kohli was on 12, when he skied a pull shot off Josh Hazlewood. Unfortunately for Australia, Mitch Marsh couldn’t secure the catch, marking a low point in his day following his duck in the third over.
Seizing the moment, Kohli, with a stellar average of 89 in successful one-day international run chases, crafted a brilliant 85. India ultimately cruised to victory with 52 balls remaining, kicking off their World Cup campaign on a high note. Hazlewood eventually dismissed Kohli, but by that point, it was too late for Australia, with India only 33 runs short of victory.
Rahul’s role was equally pivotal in guiding the team through the chase. With a resilient and unbeaten 97, he secured the winning runs off Pat Cummins with a striking six over cover, consolidating India’s dominance in the match.
Australia’s Adam Zampa, whom Cummins described as “sore” in the days preceding the match, struggled to mirror the potency of his Indian counterparts. A mere quarter of Zampa’s deliveries were on target to hit the stumps, whereas Indian spinners Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, and Kuldeep Yadav had a significantly better performance.
Jadeja (3-28), Yadav (2-42), and Ashwin (1-34) wreaked havoc on Australia’s middle order. Jadeja’s performance was especially noteworthy as he claimed three wickets in just 10 balls, leaving Australia staggering at 5-119 in the 30th over.
Marnus Labuschagne and Alex Carey soon followed their teammates, with Carey being dismissed for a duck. Notably, both Steve Smith and David Warner fell slightly short of half-centuries. Warner, after surpassing 1000 runs at 50-over World Cups, offered an easy catch to Yadav.
The challenge of the surface was underscored by Glenn Maxwell’s struggles, his innings illustrating Australia’s difficulty on a pitch that significantly favoured India’s spinners. India’s exceptional performance with the ball was also marked by Jasprit Bumrah’s 2-35 off 10 overs.
Australia’s batting had moments of brightness, with Mitchell Starc contributing a crucial 34-run partnership with Zampa for the ninth wicket after a mid-innings collapse. However, their total score still fell short of the average winning score of 257 in Chennai since 2010.
Australia will next face the Proteas in Lucknow, while India is set to clash with Afghanistan in Delhi. Australia clash with South Africa from 7.30pm on Thursday night with cricket betting sites yet to launch markets for this match.
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