By: Shubham Ghosh
India batter KL Rahul gave a befitting reply to his detractors on Friday (17) by slamming a crucial half century that helped his country win the first one-day international (ODI) against a spirited Australia by five wickets at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.
The right-hand batter, who played the game also as the wicket-keeper, scored 75 not out in 91 balls to guide India to overhaul a modest target of 188 with the support of spinner-all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja who belted an unbeaten 45 off 69 balls. The duo came together with India reeling at 83 for 5 in the 20th over but added 108 runs for the sixth wicket to take their side home with more than 10 overs to spare and take 1-0 lead in the three-game series.
Rahul was removed from India’s Test vice-captaincy during the recent four-Test series against Australia and also dropped for the third and fourth Tests in which Shubman Gill replaced him.
Hardik Pandya, who captained India in the match in the absence of Rohit Sharma who had family commitments, scored 25 off 31. Openers Ishan Kishan (3 off 8) and Gill (20 off 31) also fell cheaply as did Virat Kohli (4 off 9) and Suryakumar Yadav (0 off 1).
For Australia, spearheads Mitchell Starc and Marcus Stoinis claimed three and two wickets, respectively.
Earlier in the day, Australia saw the lower batting order collapsing as they lost their last six wickets for only 19 runs in less than eight overs. Opener Mitchell Marsh top scored for the visitors with 81 off 65 balls with five sixes. Indian pacers Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj shared six wickets between them while Pandya got one. The remaining scalps were claimed by Jadeja and chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav.
The second match will be played in Visakhapatnam on Sunday (19).
Brief scores: India 191 for 5 in 39.5 overs (KL Rahul 75 not out, Ravindra Jadeja 45 not out, Mitchell Starc 3 for 49) beat Australia 188 all out in 35.4 overs (Mitchell Marsh 81, Mohammed Shami 3 for 17, Mohammed Sirah 3 for 29).