Rohit Sharma scored his 22nd One Day International hundred but failed to drive India past the victory line in the first match of three-ODI series against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Saturday. Under the captaincy of Aaron Finch, Australia won the first ODI by 34 runs to take a 1-0 lead in the series, which is being seen as a platform to prepare for the forthcoming ICC World Cup. While Rohit Sharma scored 133 runs off 129 balls, wicketkeeper-batsman MS Dhoni impressed with a 96-ball 51. No other Indian batsman managed to contribute much with the willow. Jhye Richardson claimed four wickets, while Jason Behrendorff and Marcus Stoinis took two wickets each as Australia restricted India to 254/9 in their allotted 50 overs. Earlier, Australian Test discard Peter Handscomb top scored with 73 off 61 balls to power Australia to 288 for five. The Australians, who have won just three of their last 24 ODIs, won the toss but fell short of the 327 average score from the five most recent Sydney Cricket Ground ODIs. The visitors looked well placed to chase down the total, with the two highest run chases at the SCG -- 334 by Australia against England in 2011 and 331 by India against the home side in 2016 -- well above their target. Following the first-ever Test series win Down Under, India were confident to make a positive start in the ODI series. The three match series is a good chance to get the combination right for the much awaited World Cup to be played in England. (SCORECARD)
The top-order seemed settled with the likes of Kohli, Rohit, Rayudu and Dhawan. The team has Dhoni and Jadhav who could turn the match at will. In case Pandya is left out, Ravindra Jadeja will probably replace the Baroda all-rounder and partner left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav in India's five-pronged bowling attack, with Kedar Jadhav fulfilling any part-time bowling duties if needed.
Much attention will also be on former India captain Dhoni who will like get some runs under his belt as he is expected to be one of the vital cogs in India's campaign at this year's ODI World Cup. The World Cup winning skipper has managed 275 runs in his last 20 ODIs at an average 25 without a half-century. The worrying aspect is Dhoni's strike-rate of 71.42, which is remarkably lower than his ODI career strike-rate of 87.89.