Himanshu Agrawal is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
BAN v NZ (1)
Abu Dhabi T10 (6)
WBBL 2023 (1)
Legends League (2)
SA v WI (A tour) (1)
Sheffield Shield (3)
Hazare Trophy (18)
IND v ENG (W-A) (1)
MT20WC QLF (2)
IND v AUS (1)
India 281 for 5 (Gill 74, Gaikwad 71, Zampa 2-57) beat Australia 276 (Warner 52, Inglis 45, Shami 5-51) by five wickets
Finally it arrived. Like a long-awaited letter from a loved one. ODI runs for Suryakumar Yadav ahead of the World Cup might perhaps be India's biggest positive in their five-wicket win over Australia in the first ODI in Mohali. He hit 50, his highest score in 20 ODI innings, thus helping India successfully chase 277 after they had lost 4 for 43 during a tense middle-overs period.
And if Suryakumar's return to form was a relief, Mohammed Shami's second ODI five-for in the absence of Mohammed Siraj must have ended up providing a headache. Shami grabbed a career-best 5 for 51, including three off his last nine balls.
That aside, KL Rahul, the stand-in captain, continued easing back into international cricket with an undefeated 58, his third significant contribution in four innings since his comeback from injury. Rahul and Suryakumar added 60 just when it appeared Adam Zampa was inspiring an Australian comeback, by triggering a collapse that saw India go from 142 for 0 in the 22nd over to 185 for 4 by the 33rd.
Openers Gill and Gaikwad had started off with ease in the chase up top, starting with 43 in the first seven overs. Gaikwad got a life on 17 but he didn't rein his shots in, hitting a punch through deep point in the same over. Seven off the eight fours from the duo in the first powerplay came in the region from backward point to cover, even as Gill had also effortlessly pulled Marcus Stoinis for six over square leg in the fourth over.
Gill also attacked debutant Matthew Short's offspin, depositing him for four and six in the 14th over. That six brought up his fifty in 37 balls to stretch his dream run in ODIs while Gaikwad followed suit with his maiden ODI half-century in 60 balls.
But Zampa ended the fun by trapping Gaikwad for 71, before cleaning Gill up for 74 with one that skidded through. In between, Shreyas Iyer, whose fitness and form India would have been keen to test, was run-out for 3 after a mix-up with Gill. Rahul, who had arrived after Gill's dismissal, then joined hands with Ishan Kishan to briefly steady the innings, before an attempted ramp had Kishan caught behind off Pat Cummins for 18. Rahul and Suryakumar, though, ensured there was no further wobble.
Rahul - who made full use of a reprieve when dropped on 1 - stayed unbeaten on the night, but in the afternoon had also enjoyed some fortune when he was behind the stumps, with two successive fumbles from him possibly helping restrict Australia to 276.
The first was in the 33rd over when Marnus Labuschagne had attempted a reverse sweep off R Ashwin, only for the tickle hitting Rahul's leg after he missed a grab with the gloves. But the ball ricocheted onto the stumps, and Labuschagne was stumped for 39 in a close call that ended a promising 45-run third-wicket stand. Then in the 40th over, Cameron Green, on 31, dabbed Shami behind, and Rahul failed to collect on the bounce. Trying to run off the misfield, Green and Inglis had a mix-up, and Suryakumar held on to a throw from deep third to effect a run-out at the bowler's end.
But before that, Shami had laid the foundation for India's win already. He first had Mitchell Marsh caught at wide slip in the first over, with a length ball that angled in first but then straightened, after which he cleaned Steven Smith up with his trademark upright seam that slithered in and flattened two stumps.
Shami also fashioned Australia's death-overs collapse of 5 for 28, removing Stoinis after the latter had added 62 off 43 balls with Inglis. Stoinis' stumps were also rattled, after which Short swung him for a catch at deep midwicket. Sean Abbott was dispatched with a slower ball chopped onto his stumps.
In all, six of Australia's top seven scored at least 29, but it was only David Warner who went past fifty in the first innings. Eventually, that made the difference, as four out of India's top six scored half-centuries, giving India the 1-0 lead in the three-game series.
Shami vs Thakur - the debate that never was
India want a bowler who can bat at No. 8 at the World Cup, so Mohali didn't really change anything
India become the second team in men's history to occupy No. 1 spot across formats
Following the win in the Mohali ODI against Australia, they moved past Pakistan to become the top-ranked team in ODIs
Shami gets five, India batters dazzle in comfortable win against Australia in 1st ODI
Warner's 52 the only half-century for Australia despite starts for most of their batters
Dravid: 'We've picked our team for the World Cup and Surya is in it'
India head coach backs middle-order batter's game-changing ability, says he will start ODI series against Australia