Aaron Finch: blasted 72 off 79 balls. Photo: Reuters
Acting Australia captain George Bailey has hailed the even team effort that propelled it overnight to a 1-0 lead in the one-day series in India.
The 72-run victory in Pune, after Australia comfortably defended its total of 8-304, meant the national team has now won 10 of its past 13 completed one-dayers. Its record in India is even better of late, having won five of its past six and eight of its past 10 there.
Australia's victory chances were helped by a 110-run partnership between openers Aaron Finch (72 off 79 deliveries) and Phillip Hughes (47 of 53), the team's first century opening stand for 26 matches against a Test-level opponent. The previous milestone came in March 2012, between Shane Watson and David Warner in the West Indies.
The mainstay of Australia's innings was Bailey, whose 85 from 82 deliveries later earned him the man of the match award. Cameos from Glenn Maxwell (31 off 23), James Faulkner (27 off 22) and Clint Mckay (11 off 4) allowed Australia to beat the previous scoring record at Pune of 6-286, by India against Sri Lanka in March 1999.
Australia's new-ball bowlers Mitch Johnson (1-38 off 10 overs) and Clint Mckay (2-36 off 10) earned significant praise from Bailey, with all-rounder Shane Watson (2-31 off 9) joining them in conceding fewer than four runs per over.
The bulk of India's scoring was done by Virat Kohli (61 off 85), Rohit Sharma (42 off 47) and Suresh Raina (39 off 45). It was bowled out in the last over for 232.
While Australia's bowlers were pummelled last Thursday – they were unable to defend its total of 201 in the one-off Twenty20 International – Bailey praised them after Sunday's match for producing "a fantastic all-round bowling performance, which we're going to have to have (to win because) India's batting is so strong".
"Clint (Mckay) and Mitchell (Johnson) started fantastically well, made it really hard for the Indian boys to score. Mitch was fast as well . . . which lifts us around him," he said.
Bailey agreed it was close to a "perfect" performance from the team. He said he was buoyed that it was achieved despite star batsman Shane Watson making only two runs.
"It was nice to get 300 with 'Watto' missing out, to show the rest of us can do it and find our way through that," he said.
Bailey's pivotal innings also extended the remarkable start to his one-day career for Australia.
After 30 matches the 31-year-old has scored 1146 runs at an average of 47.75, with 1 century and 9 half-centuries. Among Australians only Greg Chappell (1213 at 52.74) and opener Shaun Marsh (1149 at 39.62) have scored more, while for average he is trumped only by Chappell, Mike Hussey (97.67) and Michael Bevan (64.69) after that 30-match period.
For just under half of India's innings Australia had to rely on a substitute wicketkeeper, Phillip Hughes, after in an incident that evoked memories of Billy Birmingham's cricket commentary parody The 12th Man. Brad Haddin had to leave the field in the seventh over after being poked in the eye by James Faulkner, who was giving him a high five for taking a catch off Shikhar Dhawan.
Haddin, in his first series back as one-day wicketkeeper, returned to the field in the 30th over. In the time he was off, Hughes took two catches behind the stumps, off Sharma and Yuvraj Singh.
Australia's win buttressed its second placing on the ICC's ODI team rankings. To overtake India and move into top spot, for the first time since July 2012, it has to win at least six of the seven matches in this series.