After Australia’s defeat in the one-off T20 at Rajkot, most of the criticism leveled against their bowlers revolved around their failure to test the Indian batsmen with short-pitched deliveries.
Like dutiful students, the Australian pace battery had practiced their bouncers under Pune’s afternoon sun on the eve of their ODI series opener at the MCA stadium. On Sunday, when they defended a total of 304 against the Indians, the copious amount of sweat their pacers had lost at the nets suddenly seemed worth it.
James Faulkner welcomed Yuvraj Singh to the crease with a couple of bouncers. The first one caused Yuvraj to tie himself up in knots as he fended the rising ball to point. The next one, bowled a couple of kph quicker, exploded off the southpaw’s bat and went over the square leg fence.
Next up was Mitchell Johnson, whose fiery first spell of three overs, in which he regularly clocked over 145 kph, had left Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma gasping for breath. The first ball that Johnson bowled to Yuvraj was a stinging yorker which the batsman barely managed to dig out. Next came a wide bouncer. Then, with Yuvraj expecting a change-up, Johnson delivered his piece de resistance. The left-armer put the ball just back of length but at a blinding 152 kph. Yuvraj’s airy waft produced a thin edge and the ball ended up in Phillip Hughes’ gloves.
With Yuvraj gone, silence descended on the Pune crowd. It grew quieter when Ravindra Jadeja couldn’t handle a Faulkner delivery that reared up; Jadeja’s attempted pull was pouched by a diving George Bailey at mid off. Skipper MS Dhoni soon followed, his off stump pegged back by the accurate Clint McKay. The Indian tail gamely stretched the match till the 50th over, but with the asking rate climbing above 10 an over after Dhoni’s dismissal, the result was never in question. In the end, the Australians won by a handsome 72-run margin.
At the beginning of the innings, Faulkner took out Shikhar Dhawan, as the left-hander attempted an unconvincing prod at a ball that seamed away a fraction. Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli began in circumspect fashion, keeping things ticking over, striking a boundary every couple of overs. However, Sharma fell edging to the keeper while trying to dab a rising ball to third man without any semblance of foot movement.
Virat Kohli, who ended