Rahul (97*), Kohli (85) steer India home after early scare against Australia

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Virat Kohli made a crucial 85 as World Cup hosts India overcame an early collapse to begin their campaign with a six-wicket win over Australia.

Steve Smith (46) and David Warner (41) top-scored in Australia’s total of 199 after they won the toss and batted.

India were in trouble after the loss of early wickets left them teetering on 2-3 before Kohli and KL Rahul rebuilt.

Kohli was caught at mid-wicket off the bowling of Josh Hazlewood (3-38) but Rahul (97*) saw India home.

South Africa had pummelled the highest score in World Cup history when they made 428-5 as batting records were shattered against Sri Lanka on Saturday, but this contest was a sub-continental one-day international throwback.

The pitch in Chennai did not lend itself to expansive hitting down the ground, or innovative 360 strokeplay, and inevitably became a low-scoring arm-wrestle which bucked the trend of many modern white-ball matches.

India managed just three sixes in their innings, and Australia two.

Warner had played the most fluently for Australia while Smith had shown resilience but India’s spinners strangled their opponents in the middle overs.

Spin accounted for six of Australia’s top seven – spearheaded by left-arm tweaker Ravindra Jadeja’s 3-28 – paving the way for their quicks to later deliver the coup de grace.

In the 10 ODIs played at M. A. Chidambaram Stadium since 2011, the average score was 238 so Australia’s total felt comfortable for the hosts.

Yet India began their response in a jittery fashion as Rohit Sharma, Ishan Kishan and Shreyas Iyer all fell without scoring to a combination of ill-judged aggression and fine bowling from Mitchell Starc (1-31) and Hazlewood.

Kohli and Rahul saw off a tricky period and once the shine went off the white ball and stopped swinging, Australia’s attack looked unthreatening and skipper Pat Cummins bereft of ideas on how to take wickets.

The India pair were content to accumulate and then showed more attacking intent to punish the bad ball as they enjoyed a stand of 165 for the fourth wicket.

Rahul and Hardik Pandya saw them over the line with 52 balls to spare after a blitz of late boundaries. (BBC Sport)

 

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