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India recovered from an abysmal start to their chase to easily hunt down 200 against Australia and seal a win in their first game of the 2023 World Cup.
Having lost their three of their top four batsmen for a duck apiece, India were staring at a shocking loss when Virat Kohli was joined by KL Rahul. Together, they weathered the Australian fast bowling storm, stitching together a partnership of 165 for the fourth wicket to register a six-wicket victory.
The hosts, who were two for three at one stage, could have lost their fourth when the score was just 20 but Kohli was dropped by a sliding Mitchell Marsh.
Kohli had attempted to pull Josh Hazlewood away but it bounced a lot more than he expected and it should have ended up straight in Marsh’s hands. He looked to be distracted by wicket-keeper Alex Carey who also went for the catch from the opposite direction.
One-day internationals. Chasing. It has to be about Kohli
— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) October 8, 2023
From that point onward, the pair eschewed any risk to begin with, absorbing the pressure from the Aussie seamers. They could also afford to do the same given the low required run-rate but once the main seamers had been taken out, Kohli and Rahul changed gears.
A special treatment was reserved for Adam Zampa who went for three boundaries in his very first over. That also proved to be the turning point for the Indian chase, releasing all the pent up pressure and they went on to milk him further throughout his spells. Zampa ended up conceding 53 from his eight overs, ridiculously high in a chase of 200.
While Kohli departed for 85 just as India was on the verge of win, Rahul brought them home without any more hiccups. He remained unbeaten on 97.
Australia looked to have made a solid start to their innings despite losing Mitchell Marsh for a duck as David Warner and Steven Smith rode out the early storm to get to 43 for one at the end of the first Powerplay. A couple of poor overs from Hardik Pandya gave Australia a bit of a respite from Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammad Siraj’s accuracy and as the partnership carried on it felt like 250 could well be on the cards for the Aussies.
It was the introduction of spin that turned things around for India.
Kuldeep Yadav deceived Warner in the flight to get him caught and bowled and despite a 36-run stand with Marnus Labuschagne, Smith was bamboozled by a Ravindra Jadeja delivery that could well have been the ball of the tournament so far.
From being 110 for two at one stage, Australia collapsed to 140/7 and it was only some rearguard action from Pat Cummins (15) and Mitchell Starc (28) that got them to 199 in the end.
Jadeja finished with three wickets, conceding just 28 from his 10 overs while Bumrah and Kuldeep grabbed a couple of wickets apiece.
New Zealand face Netherlands in tomorrow’s sixth match of the 2023 World Cup.
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