June 17, 2021

Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul and Virat Kohli on song as India post 340

Innings India 340 for 6 (Dhawan 96, Rahul 80, Kohli 78, Zampa 3-50) v Australia

India began the series looking to find space to squeeze KL Rahul in the top order. One loss in, backs to their wall, India might have found a solution to their middle-order problems in, well, Rahul. Batting at No. 5, starting his innings in the 33th over, just when the balls get old and difficult to hit for those used to playing against the new ball, Rahul responded with a 52-ball 80 to take India to 340 after they had threatened to fall away with the quick wickets of Virat Kohli and Manish Pandey.

India’s top three – Kohli back at three – all made threatening starts, but Adam Zampa’s impressive three-wicket haul on a flat pitch kept bringing Australia back. Shikhar Dhawan fell just short of a hundred in an attempt to accelerate in the middle overs, Kohli scored 78 off 76 but perished to his first aerial shot of the innings, but Rahul made sure India got 91 off the last 10 overs.

That last mini collapse had reduced India to 280 for 5 in the 45th over with only allrounder Ravindra Jadeja left as support, but Rahul unfurled stroke-play of high quality to keep India in the contest. This was the first time since November 2013 that an India batsman at No. 5 or lower had scored a fifty at a strike rate of over 150 when batting first. Overall, there have been 67 such innings in ODI cricket between these two efforts by India batsmen.

Right from the start, India showed the desire for an above-par total. Dhawan drove the first ball he faced for four, Rohit Sharma did not shy away from taking risks early on, and the results showed in the pressure they put on Australia. Aaron Finch, though, responded with attack: at one point, Pat Cummins had bowled seven of the first 17 overs.

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