Chennai: India started their ICC World Cup campaign on a positive note by defeating Australia by six wickets at the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium, here on Sunday. India’s chase of 200 got a significant boost from half-centuries contributed by Virat Kohli and KL Rahul, rescuing the team from a precarious position of losing three wickets with just two runs on the board. The remarkable 165-run partnership between Kohli and Rahul for the fourth wicket ensured that India successfully completed the target in 41.2 overs.
Before India’s impressive chase, they put on a disciplined bowling display to dismiss Australia for a total of 199 runs. Australian captain Pat Cummins, having won the toss, chose to bat first. However, things didn’t go as planned for the visiting team, as they found themselves struggling at 119 for five in the 30th over. Ravindra Jadeja, the left-arm spinner, played a pivotal role, taking three wickets for 38 runs in the middle overs and causing significant damage to the Australian innings.
Talking about the win, India captain Rohit Sharma termed it to be a great effort from his team. “Good feeling to come out on top, particularly with our performance in both bowling and fielding. The fielding, in particular, was magnificent, and it was an area where we put in a great deal of effort. Given the challenging conditions, it can be tough at times, but we were well-prepared for it. We anticipated assistance for all bowlers, and our seamers successfully utilized reverse swing, while our spinners maintained excellent line and length. All in all, it was a fantastic team effort,” said the India captain.
Admitting that he was nervous when we were 3 for 2, Rohit said, “Yes, I must admit I was nervous when we were 3 for 2 while chasing the target. Starting like that is not ideal, and credit must be given to Australia. However, there were also some loose shots played by us, which is sometimes expected when trying to score quickly in the powerplay. Nevertheless, hats off to Virat and KL for their outstanding partnership that ultimately helped us secure the victory.”
“Looking ahead, the biggest challenge will be adapting to the conditions on the next surface, as we’ll be playing in different conditions. This might require us to make changes to our team combinations, and as a team, we are prepared to do whatever it takes to succeed. The crowd support in Chennai was remarkable, as always. The fans were brilliant from the very beginning, even in the sweltering heat, and their unwavering support speaks volumes about their passion for the game,” he added.
Losing captain Pat Cummins said that Australia was atleast 50 runs short in setting their target. “It was indeed a challenge to defend a total of 200. We were up against a really formidable bowling attack, and dealing with the spinners proved to be quite tough as well. The pitch conditions required batsmen to settle in patiently. As for the dropped catch involving Kohli, I’ve already put it behind me, although it’s not ideal, especially given his caliber. We had a chance to have them four down for 10, which would have been incredible, but it didn’t work out that way, largely due to Hazlewood, who always poses questions with the ball.”
Meanwhile, KL Rahul, who was the Player of the Match said, “There weren’t a lot of conversations with Kohli. I had just taken a shower and was hoping to put my feet up for half an hour after the fielding innings, but I had to come in. Virat said that I should play like Test cricket for a bit. Happy to play this for the team. There was a bit of help for the fast bowlers early on. Towards the end, the dew played a bit of a part for them. It was still two-paced. It wasn’t a great wicket to bat on, neither was it too difficult. I think it was a good cricket wicket, that’s what you get in South of India especially in Chennai.”
Talking about his last shot, he said, “I hit it too well. I wanted to get a hundred by going four and six. Hopefully some other time I can get it.”