KL Raulwho struggled to find form during the Border-Gavaskar series which resulted in him being dropped for the third and fourth Tests, scored a patient unbeaten 75 and helped the hosts come home.
Jadeja, playing ODI cricket after nearly eight months with a knee injury and subsequent surgery, scored an unbeaten 45 in a chase of 188 on Friday. He also cast a tight spell and returned figures of 2/46 to be declared ‘Player of the Match’.
With India hosting the ODI World Cup later this year, a fit Rahul and perfectly fit Jadeja will be an asset, and the three-match series will help selectors gauge the duo’s progress.
India would look to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series and also try to make amends with the bat, after they were down at 4/39, and later 5/83, before Rahul and Jadeja joined the la fold to guide the hosts to victory with 61 balls to spare.
The return of Rohit Sharma to the duties of captain will certainly solidify the top ranking, which has crumbled under the pace and variations of the fast Australian Mitchell Starc.
The lanky left-hander’s three-wicket burst early on put India under enormous pressure, with Virat Kohli (4), Suryakumar Yadav (0) and Shubman Gill (20) starting in quick succession after Marcus Stoinis had made an early dent by dismissing Ishan Kishan for three runs.
1⃣ Brilliant catch2⃣ Wickets 4⃣5⃣* RunsFor his superb all-round performance, @imjadeja bagged the Player of the M… https://t.co/7TJiPNMuuV
—BCCI (@BCCI) 1679067506000
The Indians’ batsmen have looked hit-and-miss at times against quality left-arm pacers, and facing Starc in their remaining two games should give them a good practice at home, with efforts focused on their October-November World Cup preparations.
With Sharma set to open, Kishan will likely make way for the regular captain.
1st ODI: Shami, KL Rahul sack India to win against Australia
While not much should be read about Kohli and Gill’s below-par scores in the first ODI, Suryakumar Yadav being unable to find his mojo in the 50-over format is cause for concern.
A mace-wielding marauder in T20Is, Suryakumar is evidently still finding his feet in ODIs. He has gone fiftyless in all five ODIs this year. Surya has now played 15 ODIs (13 innings) with no score over 50.
However, with no timeline set for Shreyas Iyer to return, India will continue to audition Suryakumar for the role at No. 4.
Indian bowling did a great job in Mumbai with pacers Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj thriving on a pace-friendly Wankhede pitch. But wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav could not make a good impression.
However, the team management should not be fumbling with the bowling lineup, with Pandya playing the role of third deckhand in Mumbai to perfection.
The weather forecast for the second ODI is for scattered thunderstorms for at least the first half, which also means pacers from either side can swing the ball if conditions are windy.
Australia want to try different combinations during the series. They came in with four all-rounders on Friday – Mitchell Marsh, Cameron Green, Marcus Stoinis and Glenn Maxwell – and still failed to disrupt India much, which would be worrying for captain Steve Smith.
As an impromptu opener in David Warner’s absence, Marsh provided a quick start with 65-ball 81, but Australia lost their way in the middle overs, plunging 129/2 to 188 against quality pace in Mumbai. The visitors lost six wickets for a meager 19 runs despite having a deep batting lineup, something they will be looking to work on.
Smith and Marnus Labuschagne may have encountered ‘difficult’ shots in the Test series, but wickets for ODIs in India are generally friendly, and both Australian mainstays should be doing more.
Smith has not passed the 50 ride mark so far on this tour of India. For someone who has a mountain of racing against India, the Australian substitute skipper will be looking to end the drought.
Australia’s fast bowling was fantastic in Mumbai, with Sean Abbott keeping the Indians in check with tight lines and Green and Stoinis also contributing.
India: Rohit Sharma (c), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, KL Rahul (week), Ishan Kishan, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohd Shami, Mohd Siraj, Umran Malik, Shardul Thakur, Axar Patel, Jaydev Unadkat.
Australia: David Warner, Travis Head, Steven Smith (c), Marnus Labuschagne, Mitchell Marsh, Marcus Stoinis, Alex Carey, Glenn Maxwell, Cameron Green, Josh Inglis, Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Ellis, Adam Zampa.
(With inputs from PTI)