13th over: Australia 78-2 (Marsh 40, Labuschagne 1) The last time Marnus Labuschagne was in the middle he was dead-batting out a Test draw with Steve Smith in Ahmedabad. Now he’s replacing Smith with the need to play shots foremost in his mind. Starts with a leg glance for one. Marsh fences at a ball outside off. India’s quicks have all been impressive at times.
WICKET! Smith c Rahul b Pandya 22, Australia 77-2
Gone that time. Width from Pandya, Smith looks to dab a cut shot fine to deep third, and only gets a thick top edge that goes wide to KL Rahul’s right. A good catch from the keeper jumping across.
12th over: Australia 76-1 (Marsh 39, Smith 22) Shardul Thakur carries on, a couple of decent balls before Smith thrashes a cut shot for four. Shuffles forward next ball, hit on the ankle by an inswinginging yorker, given out on field but he’s hit that ball. He looks very annoyed, probably more because he didn’t get more bat on it, but the review saves him. “Never afraid to take a review,” says his former captain Finch.
11th over: Australia 70-1 (Marsh 39, Smith 17) Marsh goes again! One ball after nearly following Head by chopping the ball back onto his stumps, he dumps Pandya over deep midwicket for six. Too full, easy swing.
10th over: Australia 52-1 (Marsh 31, Smith 16) Shardul Thakur into the attack. Smith takes a single, Marsh takes a look at one ball, then Marsh takes a full swing. Into the sight screen for six. Dead straight lofted drive. He aims more leg side the next ball, missing as he plays across the line and is hit on the pad but it’s missing leg stump. Marsh blocks and leaves the next couple. Good start for Australia from the first ten overs.
9th over: Australia 52-1 (Marsh 25, Smith 15) Way wide of off stump from Pandya, and that gives Smith the room to stride across decisively and dispatch the cover drive for four! Dramatic shot. A wide down the leg side follows, KL Rahul doing well to dive across. Serious movement to end the over, some swing in the air and off the pitch, away from the bat as Marsh aims a big drive.
8th over: Australia 46-1 (Marsh 25, Smith 10) Siraj continues. Aaron Finch popping up on commentary, a step into the post-playing life for the former Australian captain in this format. The bumper doesn’t work this time, Marsh top-edging over fine leg for four. Not controlled but runs are the result. As earlier, Marsh follows a false shot with a true one, smashed through cover again.
7th over: Australia 37-1 (Marsh 17, Smith 9) Hardik Pandya on for his first over, and Mitchell Marsh gets a huge inside edge for four. So thick that it flies through square leg rather than behind the wicket, as he aims through the off side. Pandya pitches up and threatens the off stump with some seam movement. Then threatens the outside edge. Five dots follow the boundary.
6th over: Australia 33-1 (Marsh 13, Smith 9) Seven runs off the first three overs, 22 off the next two. Add another four to that! Laced by Smith through extra cover, driving Siraj on the up. So the bowler goes back to pace basics: bouncer, just missing the top edge. Then the yorker, jammed back. And the halfway short ball, into the ribs where it strikes Smith as he pulls. Good little salvo from Siraj. Finishes it off with a length ball that Smith respectfully sends back.
5th over: Australia 29-1 (Marsh 13, Smith 5) More extras, leg side again from Shami and this time it clips Smith on the thigh before finding the boundary. And another wide, Shami’s errors undoing some of his good work. He overcorrects in response to those mistakes, gives Smith width outside off, and Smith cracks it through cover for four.
4th over: Australia 19-1 (Marsh 13, Smith 0) Marsh throws the hands at Siraj, not a convincing shot as he slices the drive behind point while aiming through cover, but it gets him four as it rolls slowly into the rope. More convincing next time round though! On the back foot to meet a shorter length, timing it perfectly through cover for four. Then bash, down the ground. On the front foot and lofting his off drive. Three boundaries in the over after a quiet start from Marsh.
3rd over: Australia 7-1 (Marsh 1, Smith 0) Shami comes back over the wicket to the right-handed Marsh, with Smith to the non-striker’s end. Races a single. First ball to Smith is wide down leg. That’s the last poor delivery though, as Shami tests him out around the off stump. Finding holes like that defence is a lace doily. Beats Smith a couple of times, no runs scored.
WICKET! Head b Siraj 5, Australia 5-1
2nd over: Australia 5-1 (Marsh 0) What an over! The contest is great. Siraj bowls over the wicket to the left-hander where Shami was coming around. Head back-cuts so close to the body, as he always tends to do. Then flashes at a wide one and misses, shades of Warner in both. Misses out again off his pads, then finally climbs into a delivery, wide and not so short but lumberjacked out through cover. Siraj dials back the length and Head is beaten on the top edge, nice bounce from this surface. The bowler gives him a long stare off a long follow-through. A challenge to ask whether he’s willing to come after the ball. So Head does, the last ball of the over. Walks at it, swings through midwicket, and gets a bottom edge back onto the stumps. Advantage Siraj.
1st over: Australia 1-0 (Head 1, Marsh 0) A good start from Shami, the cricket following on from the Test series as he hits a length outside the off stump, finds some bounce, and Head plays cautiously for a few balls before carefully taking a single to point. Marsh gets squared up but survives a thick outside nick along the ground.
Interesting teams! Two stand-in captains, Pandya and Smith. Warner hasn’t recovered sufficiently so Mitch Marsh opens. Inglis gets the gloves ahead of Carey. Maxwell at seven, Stoinis at eight! Talk about batting deep. Australia go to ten. India less so, with Kuldeep a fine bowler but not much of a batter at nine. Their team more or less as expected with the three all-rounders from six to eight.
Steve Smith *
Josh Inglis +
KL Rahul +
Hardik Pandya *
India win the toss and bowl
Preferring to chase with the chance that dew will affect the bowlers in the evening, Hardik Pandya gets his way.
If you want another indication of how meaningful this series is, no Australian media outlet is covering it. None. All of us who did the Test series headed for the exits afterwards. Even the cricket.com.au contingent from the in-house Cricket Australia site. They went to the Caribbean and Bangladesh on the team plane during the pandemic for white-ball tours, but not this. Cricbuzz and Cricinfo will have their Australian correspondents at this first match in Mumbai, but only because they had other things to take care of in the same city. Nobody will be travelling to the second and third matches.
Why? Because this series was added only a couple of months ago and serves no purpose aside from filling screen time. English players were scathing about the one-dayers they played right after the T20 World Cup last November, and half their reserve players preferred to play the Pakistan Super League T20s than show up in Bangladesh for England matches over the past couple of weeks. We’re at an interesting stage in the life cycle of bilateral contests.
If you want some preview information about the series, why, I have just the thing.
Hello all. Here we are for the most eagerly anticipated series of… wait, sorry, just getting some advice in my headset… for a series! A series of cricket matches to be played across 50 overs per side, three times, between two teams and a television broadcaster that will make a good return from them.