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India defeats Australia by 26 runs (D/L method) in series opener

India

Chennai: India beat Australia by 26 runs (D/L method) in the opener of their five-match One-day International (ODI) series at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium here on Sunday.

Earlier, Australia’s chase to India’s 281/7 was cut to 164 in 21 overs by incessant rain.

Australia came in to bat with 13 overs reduced and the target being revised to 238 but rain continued to play spoilsport forcing the players out of the ground without a ball being bowled.

Earlier, India made 281/7, thanks to a 118-run sixth wicket stand between all-rounder Hardik Pandya (83) and former skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (79) after half of the side was back with the scorecard reading 87. Pandya and Dhoni’s sixth wicket stand helped India recover from a precarious 87/5 after India skipper Virat Kohli won the toss and elected to bat.

Pandya smashed a sensational 83 of 66 balls with 5 maximums before falling to Adam Zampa whom he smashed for a four and three consecutive sixes in 37th over to bring up his 3rd ODI fifty.

Dhoni, at the other end, provided stability with a patient 75-ball 50 but more importantly carried on after the loss of Pandya to forge another healthy 72-run seventh wicket stand with Bhuvneshwar Kumar (32 not out from 30).

In doing so, Dhoni registered his 100th international fifty. He became the fourth Indian to achieve this feat after Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid.

Earlier, India were off to a forgettable start with three of the top four batsmen back in the hut with only 11 runs on the board.

Pacer Nathan Coulter-Nile made a stunning comeback to 50-over cricket by claiming opener Ajinkya Rahane (5), and skipper Virat Kohli and Manish Pandey (both for noughts) for the scorecard to read 11/3.

Stoinis added salt to India’s wounds with the wicket of Jadhav (40), who looked good during his 53-ball stay, striking five hits to the fence.

With India tottering at 87/5, it all depended on the last recognised batting duo of Dhoni and Pandya, who got their act together to deliver the needed stability. The stumper then added the late order fireworks with Bhuvneshwar for company.

Later, Pacemen Jasprit Bumrah and Pandya combined to hurt Australia´s hopes of reaching a tricky target with three early strikes including skipper Steve Smith for one.

Left-arm wrist spinner Yadav also joined the party after getting star opener David Warner caught behind for 25 as Australia´s innings fell apart.

Glenn Maxwell tried to raise Australia´s hopes with his 18-ball 39, including three fours and four sixes, but Chahal cut short the batsman´s blitz.

Leg-spinner Chahal ended with three wickets in his five overs. Pandya and Yadav took two each.

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