Kedar Jadhav and Mahendra Singh Dhoni hit gritty half-centuries to anchor India’s chase and beat Australia by six wickets in the first one-day international on Saturday.
Jadhav, top-scoring with 81, and Dhoni, batting on 59, put on an unbeaten 141-run stand as the hosts achieved their target of 237 in Hyderabad to take a 1-0 lead in the five-match series.
The batting duo got together when India were in trouble at 99 for four with paceman Nathan Coulter Nile and leg-spinner Adam Zampa taking two wickets each.
India’s pace spearhead Mohammed Shami also made it count with figures of 2-44 to restrict Australia to 236 for seven after they elected to bat first.
Spinner Kuldeep Yadav and paceman Jasprit Bumrah also took two wickets each.
Rohit Sharma, who made 37, and Kohli set up the chase during their partnership of 76 after India lost Shikhar Dhawan for nought.
Coulter-Nile and Zampa then combined to dent the opposition chase with three strikes in the space of eight overs.
But Dhoni and Jadhav, who hit 9 fours and 1 six in 87 balls, mixed the right dose of caution and aggression to thwart the Aussie bowling on what seemed like a sluggish pitch.
Jadhav completed his fifty in 67 deliveries but it was Dhoni’s 71st ODI half-century that brought the packed house on its feet to applaud another match-winning knock from the veteran wicketkeeper-batsman.
Earlier Australia suffered an early blow when skipper Aaron Finch was dismissed for nought in his 100th ODI. He was caught behind off Bumrah in the second over.
Usman Khawaja top-scored with 50 while the in-form Glenn Maxwell made 40 off 51 deliveries in an otherwise ordinary show by the Australian batting.
Maxwell threatened to disrupt the hosts’ plans but skipper Virat Kohli’s move to bring back pace spearhead Shami in the 36th over paid off.
Shami bowled debutant Ashton Turner and Maxwell – who had hit an unbeaten 113 to seal his team’s 2-0 Twenty20 series sweep over India Wednesday – in quick succession to dent Australia’s chances of putting up a big total.
The second ODI is scheduled for Nagpur on Tuesday.