It was a day to forget for the bowlers at the WACA Ground in Perth on Tuesday, 12 January, as Australia took a 1-0 lead over India in the five-match ODI series between the two countries.
Playing with debutant Barinder Sran and Manish Pandey, who was making his second appearance for India, the visitors started the match well. Batting first after winning the toss, the Indian batsmen looked in fine form at the beginning of the match.
The hosts were not helped by the fact that two of their pacers, Joel Paris and Scott Boland, were making their ODI debuts. The Indian batsmen showed little mercy as the Australians struggled to take down the wickets.
Rohit answers critics with huge century
The right-handed batsman partnered with Virat Kohli, who entered the pitch following the dismissal of Shikhar Dhawan, to hound the Australian bowling line-up.
Sharma, often criticised for his inconsistent form, took 63 balls to bring up his half-century. Kohli followed suit soon and completed his fifty in 61 balls.
After completing his century in the 37th over, Sharma unleashed his form at the bowlers. While Kohli departed after posting 91 runs on the board, Sharma added another 71 from 41 balls to remain 171 not out at the end of the Indian innings.
His aggressive batting not only helped India post 309 runs at the end of the 50 overs but also came as a fitting reply to his critics, who had questioned his batting performances outside of the sub-continent.
Sran shines, but Smith and Bailey hold fort
Barinder Sran, making his debut in the match, made a blistering start to his career when he dismissed Aaron Finch and David Warner in quick succession at the beginning of the Australian innings.
With the Aussies languishing at 21/2 during the 5th over, things were looking good for the Dhoni-led side. In fact, had it not been for a contentious decision from the umpire, George Bailey might have been off in his first ball itself.
However, a catch by Dhoni was adjudged not to have taken a knock from Bailey, giving the latter a much-needed reprieve. Steve Smith and George Bailey then partnered up to steady the ship for the hosts.
The duo stubbornly held on to the crease, as the Indian bowlers struggled with the typical Australian conditions at WACA. Spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja were picked apart by the batsmen, as Dhoni was compelled into introducing part-timers Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma.
That didn't work, and as the game progressed, the duo managed to get the scoring rate up for Australia. By the time Bailey was dismissed for 112, it was already too late for India.
Skipper Steve Smith posted a mammoth 149, and when he was dismissed by Sran at the beginning of the final over, Australia only needed two more runs from five remaining balls. The hosts eventually completed the win with four balls to spare.
DRS debate resurfaces once again
George Bailey's lucky escape in the first ball he faced, has once again brought into discussion India's refusal to accept the Decision Review System (DRS) in its current form.
The Australian batsman seemed to have gloved a Barinder Sran delivery towards the leg side, which was caught by keeper Dhoni. However, umpire Richard Kettleborough turned down the Indian appeals, and Bailey crucially went on to add 112 more to the Australian innings.
"It would have been interesting to have a look at it on DRS, but we're not the team that doesn't want it," Bailey quipped following his instrumental knock.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has been reluctant in accepting DRS, saying that the system is not entirely accurate. New president Shashank Manohar had recently reaffirmed the board's stance, explaining that India would continue to refuse acceptance unless it was made 'foolproof'.
When asked by reporters to comment on the incident and India's position on DRS, skipper M S Dhoni minced no words. "My position on DRS is the same. I am still not convinced by it. DRS shouldn't be umpire's decision justification system. It should be (about) giving the right decision," he said.
"(It) doesn't matter whether you are given out or not. If half the ball hits the stumps, irrespective of the decision, you are out," he added.
The series will now move to Brisbane for the 2nd ODI game on Friday, 15 January.