MS Dhoni turned back the clock as he scored an unbeaten half-century and guided Kedar Jadhav, who impressed with an 81-run knock from the other end, as India outclassed Australia by six wickets in the first One-day International (ODI) to take a 1-0 lead in the five-match series in Hyderabad on Saturday. Scoring the winning runs, MS Dhoni, unbeaten on 59, and Jadhav helped India chase down the target with 10 balls to spare. Earlier, Indian bowlers restricted Australia to a below-par 236 for seven after they opted to bat at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium.
Clad in their brand new jerseys, the successful chase of 237 was a throwback to the good old 90's when Ajay Jadeja and Robin Singh would hunt down those sub 250 totals in exciting finishes.
However, it shouldn't be lost in isolation that India made a heavy weather of an easy target on a not so difficult wicket.
As has been the case these days, Dhoni was once again unable to rotate the strike at the start of his innings and the onus was on Kedar to hit the boundaries after they joined hands at 99 for four with skipper Virat Kohli (44, 45 balls) and his deputy Rohit Sharma (37, 66 balls) back in the hut.
While Dhoni hit six fours and a six off Nathan Coulter-Nile, it was the diminutive Maharashtra man, who did the hard yards of finding the gaps. Be it the inside out boundaries off Adam Zampa or those cheeky tennis ball dabs off his hips or a steer through the third man, Kedar was everything that Dhoni needed in those middle overs.
On the way to his fifth half-century, Kedar hit nine fours and a six as he upped the ante once Dhoni started suffering from cramps, getting those big shots out of the closet.
That age is catching up was visible when Dhoni was taking those doubles on big Australian grounds but he did enough to complete his 71st half-century in his 339th ODI. Fittingly, Dhoni finished the game with successive boundaries off Marcus Stoinis.
It was a vastly different performance from the bowling unit which maintained discipline for the better part of the 50 overs with Mohammed Shami (2/44 in 10 overs) showing the way.
Kuldeep Yadav (2/46 in 10 overs), Ravindra Jadeja (0/33 in 10 overs) and Kedar Jadhav (1/31) made up for a rare off-day that Jasprit Bumrah (2/60 in 10 overs), had by his standards.
Even Usman Khawaja (50) and Glenn Maxwell (40), despite being the top two contributors, weren't exactly comfortable against an Indian attack that bowled as many as 169 dot balls.
This effectively meant Australia couldn't score 28.1 overs out of the 50 overs during Indian innings.
(With PTI inputs)