Aaron Finch, Steven Smith tons lift Australia to imposing 374

Sydney, 27 Nov (Agency)- A backbone century from Aaron Finch and a blistering one from Steven Smith, coupled with characteristic contributions from David Warner and Glenn Maxwell, vaulted Australia to an imposing 6 for 374 against India in the opening ODI at the SCG. Finch and Warner set the hosts an ideal platform, then Smith and Maxwell went suitably ballistic on a warm and sun-kissed Friday afternoon. Their contrasting quartet of innings was a model in collaboration and acceleration, and left Virat Kohli’s visitors with an enormous task to avoid going 1-0 down in the three-match series. Save for an admirable spell from Mohammed Shami, the Indians were noticeably sluggish with the ball and in the field. Several misfields and dropped catches furrowed Kohli’s brow, while the legbreaks of Yuzvendra Chahal was rendered particularly defenceless against Smith and Maxwell at their most damaging.

The hosts had only one change from their last ODI team, against England in Manchester earlier in the year, with Mitchell Marsh absent and Smith returning after he had been unavailable due to concussion. India chose to include Mayank Agarwal at the top of the order opposite Shikhar Dhawan in the absence of Rohit Sharma. Around 40 minutes before the toss, both teams stood side by side to form a barefoot circle around the Walkabout Wickets silk to acknowledge Australia’s Indigenous people and also express their discontent with racism. The decision to hold the barefoot circle this early, prior to the start of broadcast coverage, was settled upon because Australia’s players wanted more time to talk through their first participation in the ceremony and to share their thoughts with the Aboriginal elder present for a Welcome to Country. After the coin toss, the allrounder Marcus Stoinis spoke to the host broadcaster Fox Cricket on what it meant: “It’s really important that we make a stand and we understand how important the Aboriginal culture is to Australia and to Australian history, and it was really good by India to show that respect as well. It means a lot. It’s the start of a long process, and I think education is the start of it as well.”