Peter Handscomb switched gears in time to score a fighting 73 as a collective batting effort from the middle-order steered Australia to a competitive 288 for five against India in the first One-day International, in Sydney Saturday.
Usman Khawaja (59) and Shaun Marsh (54) scored half-centuries for Australia who lost skipper Aaron Finch (6) in a slow start after electing to bat. A late charge from Handscomb and Stoinis meant that the hosts scored 93 runs in the last 10 overs, 59 of them coming in the last five. They added 68 runs off 59 balls for in their fifth-wicket partnership as Handscomb delighted the home fans with eight boundaries including two sixes while Stoinis hit two fours and as many shots over the ropes.
Spinners Kuldeep Yadav (2/54) and Ravindra Jadeja (1/48) shared three wickets between them while pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar (2/66) accounted for two batsmen. Sloppy fielding from India towards the end also helped Australia as Ambati Rayudu dropped Handscomb (on 67 off Kumar). Kumar bowled Finch (6) in the third over, an inswinger slipping in through the gate. Alex Carey (24) made a good start and was looking set for a longer innings, when Yadav outfoxed him in his very first over, caught at slip off a quicker top-spinner.
Australia only managed 41-2 in the first 10 overs. It brought Khawaja and Marsh together, and they put on 92 runs off 111 balls for the third wicket. In doing so, they pushed India to make changes in the middle overs. It didn't help that Shami went off the field for a little while with a neck related issue. During that time, India experimented with Ambati Rayudu (0/13) but he failed to provide any control over proceedings. It didn't help that Khaleel Ahmed (0/55) was having an off day, struggling with this front-foot and general control over line and length. Khawaja-Marsh pair added 50 in 61 balls as Australia crossed 100 in the 23rd over.
Khawaja brought up his fifth ODI half-century off 70 balls, and opened up a bit more to play some attractive sweeps. But he perished in that manner as Jadeja trapped him lbw in the 29th over, providing a crucial breakthrough for India. Marsh carried on though, and reached his 13th ODI half-century off 65 balls, thus putting up 53 runs off 55 balls with Handscomb for the fourth wicket. Their 50-run stand came off only 49 balls as Australia started to show a little more urgency.
Shami though had returned to the field and along with Jadeja, exerted control over the proceedings and the run-rate never crossed the 5/over mark during that passage of play. Australia finally managed to cross 200 in the 42nd over, but had lost Marsh in the process as he holed out off Yadav in the 38th over. Stoinis' arrival at the crease had helped press matters as both he and Handscomb opened up with a couple sixes and upped the run-rate. Handscomb reached his second ODI half-century off 50 balls, helping push Australia past 250 in the 48th over.