In the Sydney ODI, India had been reduced to 4/3 in four overs in their chase of 289. With the top order blown away by the Australian pace duo of Jason Behrendorff and Jhye Richardson, the onus was on Rohit Sharma and MS Dhoni to revive India. Both batsmen steadied the ship and built a 138-run stand for the fourth wicket. Dhoni, who had struggled in 2018, silenced his critics for the time-being with a magnificent 51, his 68th fifty and India were on course. However, Behrendorff trapped him LBW for 51 and despite Rohit’s brilliant 133, his 22nd century and seventh against Australia, the hosts won the game by 34 runs to take a 1-0 lead in the series.
However, the Dhoni dismissal sparked some controversy as the ball was pitching outside the line of leg stump. India could not review the decision as Ambati Rayudu (0) had extinguished the team’s lone review when he was trapped LBW by Richardson. Speaking in the post-match press conference, Richardson admitted that Australia were lucky with Dhoni’s dismissal. “There was a period there when they had a partnership through the middle and it almost could have taken the game away from us. But we were lucky to get Dhoni out lbw and we kept getting wickets from there on,” Richardson said.
With Dhoni gone, Rohit kept India in the game with timely hits and along with his century, he passed a record for hitting the most sixes against a single opposition and in a single country. Following his knock in Sydney, Rohit has hit 64 sixes against Australia, breaking Shahid Afridi’s record of 63 against Sri Lanka. Richardson hailed Rohit’s knock. “Credit to him and he summed up the conditions just as well as we did. He batted very patiently and knew the balls he could put away. He picked the gaps really well tonight. Rohit was very dangerous and we understood that. So our plan sort of changed to getting him off strike and just bowling at the batsman down the other end,” Richardson said.
Cherish the wicket
Richardson’s spell of 4/26 in 10 overs was a massive factor in Australia winning the opening game of a series since 2017. The 22-year-old, along with Behrendorff, shredded through India’s top order. Behrendorff got Shikhar Dhawan (0) while Richardson got the massive wicket of Virat Kohli (3) and Rayudu for 0. Richardson was actually disappointed about the way he got rid of Kohli but added he will cherish the wicket for a long time.
“I was actually disappointed when the ball came out. I probably bowled a bit too straight. I had a fielder there who hung on to it, so it is a wicket I will remember for a very long time. I am ecstatic and really excited for the team. It's good to put a personal performance on the board but I am really excited in the way Australian cricket is heading. The way we prepared for this game and the research we did on Indian players. Everything leading up to this game, I felt was absolutely perfect and the result was ideal,” Richardson said.