41st over: India 246-2 (Kohli 51, Pandya 15) Ten overs remaining. Half of them will be bowled by the Starc-Cummins axis but what can Finch muster from the other end? He begins with Maxwell and there are oohs and ahhs as he beats Kohli’s outside edge. India’s skipper shrugs off the disappointment, nudging a single to bring up his fiftieth fifty in ODIs. After completing the run Pandya swaps his bat with the 12th man. The new bat then sends the ball miles into the London sky for the biggest six of the day so far.
40th over: India 236-2 (Kohli 49, Pandya 7) Another decent over for Australia. Kohli finds the boundary once but Coulter-Nile only concedes six in total. The two-paced nature of this surface is really suiting Australia’s death bowling variations.
39th over: India 230-2 (Kohli 48, Pandya 2) After Dhawan and Kohli’s partnership threatened to take India into the stratosphere Australia have fought back well. Sensing the initiative is there to be seized Finch returns to his best bowler, Cummins, and he’s rewarded with a tight over that goes for just five.
Throughout this innings the narrative has been one of India guiding their way sensibly to a big total. It might soon be worth asking whether they’ve left their acceleration a little late. The run-rate remains below six and Australia will know what they have to do to prosper on this stodgy track.
38th over: India 225-2 (Kohli 44, Pandya 1) Pandya should be out first ball but Carey drops a regulation catch to his right off Coulter-Nile. Decent line and length from the bowler, the batsman fails to commit, tickles the edge but Carey can’t decide whether to dive or not, ends up falling in instalments and fails to hold on. Australia’s fielding has been off today from their usual high standards. As well as that drop there has been some ordinary ground fielding too. Decent over from NCN consisting mainly of slower-ball bouncers.
WICKET! Dhawan c sub (Lyon) b Starc 117 (India 220-2)
37th over: India 220-2 (Kohli 40) After being content to see off Mitchell Starc so far today Dhawan has just drilled a yorker past the bowler’s left ear and into the sightscreen for four. Starc responds superbly with a length delivery that skims over the bails. This is an excellent duel, and it ends with honours to the Australian! Dhawan aims an almighty hoick to a length ball on off stump that spirals miles into the air and out towards the midwicket boundary where Nathan Lyon – on as a sub fielder – holds onto the kind of catch that turns club cricketers’ knees to jelly. Superb knock from Dhawan. He leaves to a standing ovation after setting India up for a healthy total at the Oval.
36th over: India 213-1 (Dhawan 112, Kohli 38) The roulette wheel lands on No.6 which means Coulter-Nile’s turn to bowl again but his seventh over does not provide another Australian breakthrough. India’s score advances by seven, the highlight of which was a Kohli pull of ominous timing.
35th over: India 206-1 (Dhawan 112, Kohli 32) Starc returns for his third spell but his sixth over is as wicketless as his previous five. India happy just to see him off and profit from the rest of Australia’s attack.
I’m sure there’s an elegant term in behavioural psychology for logic like Dean Kinsella’s: “This is an exhibition knock from Dahwan and an exposé of Ozzie limitations in the bowling department,” he emails. “Won’t stop Oz from skittling England in the Ashes though.”
34th over: India 201-1 (Dhawan 109, Kohli 30) A quick drinks break sets us up for a 17-over dash to the line. Dhawan begins it by opening his shoulders to Maxwell, lofting him first over midwicket for four then over extra cover for another boundary.
John Eden is trying to be mischievous. “Have you noticed Stoinis has both his little fingers wrapped in sandpaper?”. I think it’s just strapping.
100 to Dhawan (95 balls)
33rd over: India 190-1 (Dhawan 100, Kohli 28) Stoinis gets another over but it begins with Kohli slapping him for four. It was in the air in the general vicinity of Maxwell at midwicket but it wasn’t a chance. A single brings Dhawan on strike and he tries to scamper the single he requires for a century but has to be sent back. He goes again next ball but this time Kohli has to dive to make his ground! And the ball ricochets off the stumps and away for an overthrow – 100 to Shikhar Dhawan! 95 deliveries, a damaged thumb, and an excellent control of tempo to counter Australia’s weapons and pressurise their depth.
32nd over: India 182-1 (Dhawan 99, Kohli 22) Maxwell into his fifth over now and it goes for just four, making it hard not to speculate that Australia failing to select Nathan Lyon in the XI may have been an error on this slow worn surface. Dhawan is on 99, a ton is imminent.
31st over: India 178-1 (Dhawan 97, Kohli 20) Finch continues to throw the ball around, trying to eke out as many overs as he can from his allrounders. Stoinis wins this edition of pass the parcel but he’s lucky to concede only eight with this pair now set and primed to attack.
30th over: India 170-1 (Dhawan 96, Kohli 13) Finch doubles down with Maxwell and he gets away with it again, going for six despite Dhawan pulling a rank long-hop mercilessly for four.
Brian Withington’s back with more on the plot of Memento II. “Please pass on my thanks to Ravi Raman for the special rasagullas generously directed at my forebodings (over 20). Sadly, I’m not sure he would be sending me so much sugar if I’d shared the pre-ordained result of the final. Anyone who’s watched Memento should have a clue as to who comes out on top in the end/beginning (hint: Guy Pierce/Stephen Fleming has tattooed the initials ‘VK’ all over his body).”
29th over: India 164-1 (Dhawan 91, Kohli 12) Cummins’s opening spell was superb, tight and heavy with the odd livener thrown in, but spell number two has been below par. Kohli cut him for four last over and now Dhawan finds the boundary off his bowling, albeit off the toe of a mistimed ramp. After all the talk of Aggressive fast short-pitched bowling this match so far has been defused by an unresponsive ball and a lifeless pitch.
Vic Lanser’s seen enough. “India will walk this, as it’s clear the Aussies have only one-and-a-half bowlers, and India bat well to 6. So all over already.”
28th over: India 157-1 (Dhawan 84, Kohli 12) Finch turns back to Maxwell to try to burgle an over or two before Kohli’s completely set. And it works, ripping through an over worth just four singles.
27th over: India 153-1 (Dhawan 82, Kohli 10) Speaking of Cummins, Finch has brought his main man back into the attack to have a dart at Kohli, his bunny* during the last Australian summer. The first round goes to India though, Kohli latching onto a short and wide one to carve the first boundary of his innings.
*No hate mail please, I’m only joshing, but four dismissals in five matches at an average of 33 is very handy against the best batsman in the world.
26th over: India 147-1 (Dhawan 82, Kohli 5) Hmmmmm is that the smell of a commentator’s curse I can smell? No sooner was I counting boundaryless overs than Dhawan reaches out to drive Zampa through the covers then lofts him disdainfully over mid-on for four more. India’s opener was a little edgy after he was struck on his left thumb by Pat Cummins but his eye is certainly in now.
Here’s some magic from Tim de Lisle, spinning OBO gold even when he’s not being paid to.
25th over: India 136-1 (Dhawan 73, Kohli 3) Four singles from the latest Coulter-Nile over, the fourth in a row without a boundary as India regroup after that unexpected wicket.
24th over: India 132-1 (Dhawan 71, Kohli 1) Oooh, one almost becomes two with Dhawan lucky to bisect longs off and on with a mistimed lofted drive to a well-flighted Zampa leggie. Zampa’s into a decent rhythm now, so much so Finch gives him a slip to Kohli. The Indian genius doesn’t mind and strokes a single into the covers to get off the mark. Better from Australia though, consecutive overs putting the onus back on India to respond.
23rd over: India 127-1 (Dhawan 67, Kohli 0) Would you believe it? India cruising, Australia drowning not waving, and up pops the maligned Coulter-Nile with a wicket maiden. Now, can Australia capitalise? Or is this the ideal foundation for The Kohli Show?
WICKET! Rohit c Carey b Coulter-Nile 57 (India 127-1)
Finch spins the rolodex and it lands on Coulter-Nile for his third spell. This one starts more promising than his previous two though, a bit of extra grunt hitting Rohit’s bat hard from a length. Then he jags the breakthrough! That extra grunt pays, dropping his length back a fraction, inviting the back-foot shot but all Rohit can do is glance the ball to Carey’s right and the simple catch is taken. Top bowling and out of nowhere Australia have an opening.
22nd over: India 127-0 (Rohit 57, Dhawan 67) Finch gives Zampa another whirl and India collect six more runs, but it really should have been a lot more with two long-hops going unpunished. Australia are on the ropes right now.
21st over: India 121-0 (Rohit 55, Dhawan 63) Now it’s Rohit’s turn to raise the bat, reaching his half-century with a whipcrack cut to a loose Starc delivery. Ten from the over in total, Starc’s fifth. The walls are very slowly closing in around Aaron Finch.
20th over: India 111-0 (Rohit 46, Dhawan 62) This is getting ugly for Australia. After seeing off Starc in the previous over Dhawan feasts on Stoinis, pulling a slower-ball bouncer for four then standing his ground and driving over long-off. This will take all Aaron Finch’s cunning to keep Australia competitive.
“Hi Jonathan,” hi Ravi Raman. “All across India we have variations of the same theme. When someone says something very special we respond with “mooh mein shakkar” – sugar for your mouth. So may I offer Brian Withington some very special rasagullas for his auspicious forecast.”
19th over: India 100-0 (Rohit 44, Dhawan 53) Starc returns for his second spell of the match and his extra pace forces India’s openers back into their watchful early mindset. There’s still nothing happening in the air or off the pitch though and Rohit and Dhawan continue on their merry way, racking up a century partnership in the process.
18th over: India 96-0 (Rohit 42, Dhawan 51) India look like they’re playing Dads v Lads against Stoinis, so unperturbed are they at the crease. Dhawan coasts to his half-century during an over that could politely be described as popgun. Time for a change of tack from Australia, and right on cue, here comes Mitchell Starc…
17th over: India 90-0 (Rohit 40, Dhawan 47) First six of the day! NCN is too short and Rohit is on it in a flash, pulling hard well behind square. The energy around the Oval is shifting very much in India’s favour. Aaron Finch looks a tad forlorn.
“How many games do Australia win by their fielding?” asks John Mackay. “They are ridiculously good.” That they are, and you fancy they may need a piece of miraculous fielding to jolt them out of this torpor. After they looked comfortable containing India at around four rpo they now just look toothless as the run-rate creeps towards 5.50.
16th over: India 81-0 (Rohit 32, Dhawan 46) Finch calls on Marcus Stoinis, his sixth bowler in just the 16th over, but he might be searching for a seventh because Dhawan ramps Stoinis’s first delivery effortlessly for four over the keeper’s head.
“Hi Jonathan,” hi Brian Withington. “As an England supporter I’m finding it rather difficult to shake the sinking feeling that we are witnessing a rehearsal for the WC final here – déjà pre-vu? All it would need to complete the sensation would be a few Memento style scenes of the Indian innings in black and white, interspersed with reverse chronology of the Australian reply in colour.” Lovely stuff. Guy Pearce is also the spit of Stephen Fleming, so if the movie of your adaptation of a movie was made, there’d be no trouble finding a live-action double.
15th over: India 75-0 (Rohit 31, Dhawan 41) Coulter-Nile back into the attack and the change almost does the trick. The big right-arm quick nails a cross seam bouncer destined for the badge on Dhawan’s helmet but the batsman whips his wrists at the last minute and deflects the ball high in the direction of fine-leg and he collects four. That was not a controlled shot. This is a slowish surface but one occasionally rewarding a bowler prepared to bend his back.
14th over: India 69-0 (Rohit 30, Dhawan 36) Zampa is struggling a bit out there. Four easy singles precede a junk long-hop that is lucky to go for only two, and a powerful off drive that’s drilled straight to the sweeper. Finch has a bit of thinking to do.
13th over: India 62-0 (Rohit 25, Dhawan 34) Boundaries are starting to arrive with some regularity now, Rohit with the latest, advancing to Maxwell and driving square through the offside for four. Plenty of enterprising footwork from both batsmen keep the scoreboard moving and up the intensity. India coasting at the moment and Australia don’t look like they know what to do beyond try to contain.
Abhijato Sensarma has a hunch. “This is the last day of my fulfilling, month-long summer vacation. Watching what has been the most anticipated match of the World Cup so far is a perfect way to round it off! Coming to the encounter itself, something tells me that Indians who play for Mumbai in the IPL and are now playing v Australia (Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya & Jasprit Bumrah) will put in an excellent aggregate performance today! Let’s see…”
12th over: India 55-0 (Rohit 19, Dhawan 33) Impressed with what he saw from Maxwell, Finch opts for spin from both ends. But Zampa opens with a rank long hop that Rohit bullies through square leg for a gimme four, he then offers Dhawan just enough width to be guided to fine third-man for four more. There is little margin for error on this surface.
11th over: India 44-0 (Rohit 13, Dhawan 28) First look at spin-ish with Finch turning to Glenn Maxwell for some variety and he’s rewarded with a very tidy over. There’s some slow purchase off this used pitch and a nude nut beats Rohit’s outside edge. The game is tantalisingly poised. India have clearly decided to build slowly but Australia will be happy at a run-rate of four after looking so unthreatening during the first powerplay.
10th over: India 41-0 (Rohit 11, Dhawan 27) Patrick Farhart was back out tending to Dhawan between overs, applying some strapping to that left thumb and supplying some painkillers. The injury looks to be affecting the left-hander who lacks timing during Coulter-Nile’s second over despite showing plenty of intent. Australia will be pleased with the limited damage after that disastrous first over. It’s hard to see where the breakthroughs are going to come from though with the field already in containment mode and the ball and pitch offering precious little.
9th over: India 39-0 (Rohit 10, Dhawan 26) India’s intent against Coulter-Nile is not continued against Cummins, and the Australian paceman shows them why, forcing Dhawan to jig on the crease with a searing bouncer. The ball cannoned into Dhawan’s left thumb and it requires a squirt of the physio’s magic spray to cool. There haven’t been many dangerous deliveries this morning but most, if not all, have been delivered by Cummins. He has 0-15 from his five overs. There won’t be many tighter opening bursts than that.
Back to the perils of playing and watching cricket, here’s Andrew Benton. “No-one’s considering the risks of following the OBO! I’ve stubbed my toe, banged my knee, spilled hot tea in my lap and misses countless deadlines, and am always ready to rush under a doorway in case of an earthquake, and it’s all down to the OBO. It’s tough out here too, you know.”
8th over: India 36-0 (Rohit 9, Dhawan 24) First change of the day sees Coulter-Nile replace Starc in the attack. Dhawan greets him by advancing down the pitch and slapping a length delivery in ungainly fashion to the long-on boundary. The waggon wheel will record that as an on-drive for four; it wasn’t. That same graphic will accurately record the next delivery as a legside wide and the one after that a classical square cut for four. Deary me, three fours in four balls! Glorious from Dhawan, riding Coulter-Nile’s bounce outside off and guiding the ball wide of third-man. An inauspicious start from Australia’s first-change who didn’t look happy with the pitch, his field, or any of his deliveries. India clearly targeting the perceived weaker link.
7th over: India 22-0 (Rohit 9, Dhawan 11) Cummins is giving his all out there but the conditions are doing him no favours. He musters an appeal for caught behind after ripping a bouncer through Dhawan but the attempted pull brushed the batsman’s bicep, not his willow. All very so-so so far. Not the gladiatorial battle we might have expected.
6th over: India 21-0 (Rohit 9, Dhawan 10) India still happy to accumulate steadily and see off Starc and Cummins. Starc continues to look unthreatening with the white ball doing nothing in the air or off the pitch.
“Have you seen the ridiculous state of the official ICC highlights of every match on YouTube?” asks Deepak Nandhakumar. I confess I haven’t. “A whole 100 overs of cricket condensed into just five minutes and change! Yesterday’s highlights started at the 9th over of the England innings, with the score already at 56-0. And which idiot made the decision to not even show all the wickets? Disgraceful. And now, just as I’m writing this email, the power’s gone out on account of the heavy rain here in Kerala. Aaaagh. JP, please write the OBO like you’re Ed Sheeran writing about a childhood love and paint a picture for me with your words.”
Accessing cricket remains baffling. The lack of free to air coverage in the UK has to be remedied if the game is expected to flourish. And don’t get me started on the ten-team World Cup format. Why would a governing body choose to limit its potential audience?
5th over: India 19-0 (Rohit 7, Dhawan 10) Dhawan survives the first jaffa of the day and it’s again from that length on the very outer margin of good from Pat Cummins. Pitching on middle it seams and bounces towards the cordon just skimming beyond the outside edge. If anything Clive, it was too good. Is Dhawan phased? No chance. He responds by stroking the first boundary of the day with the minimum of fuss through the covers. No need to move his feet, just swing the bat and get the hands through the ball. There are plenty of runs on offer for any batsman who gets his eye in today.
4th over: India 11-0 (Rohit 7, Dhawan 3) Starc looks to be nearing his rhythm, sending down a classic one-two combination to Dhawan, first the bumper then the yorker, but the Indian left-hander navigates both well. The sucker punch is a length delivery outside off that Dhawan attacks on the up and drives unconvincingly but safely into the ring. No fireworks from either side to report yet.
John Starbuck has joined the conversation about the physical danger we put ourselves in when we take the field – or a net session. “Another nets danger is when you’re on a large practice ground and, while your nets are taking place at one end, an actual match can be happening elsewhere. This means that over-enthusiastic net batters can disturb the match by hitting high and long, with a possibly dangerous result for fielders. I’ve been ticked off for this sometimes, but curiously did not feel especially apologetic.”
3rd over: India 9-0 (Rohit 6, Dhawan 2) Oohs and ahhs in the field as Cummins adjusts his length and finds some extra bounce to catch the shoulder of Dhawan’s bat. The ball scoots wide of the second of two slips but offers some encouragement to the quicks that with enough back bend there may be some reward from what appears a very placid surface. There’s another thick edge later in the over, Rohit this time, but from a length ball that barely climbed over shin height.
2nd over: India 7-0 (Rohit 5, Dhawan 1) Dhawan gets off the mark first ball which brings Rohit on strike to face Starc and immediately COULTER-NILE PUTS HIM DOWN at square leg. That was a heck of an effort from the big paceman, diving high to his right but he palms the effort around the post instead of holding on. It wasn’t a great delivery (half-volleyish on leg stump) and it wasn’t a great over, lacking swing, venom, and with a variable line and length. These already look like tough bowling conditions.
1st over: India 2-0 (Rohit 2, Dhawan 0) Cummins begins with a tidy line and length, drawing Rohit forward around off stump. The Indian opener is watchful, guiding a couple with a push through point and safely defending the other five. Not much else to report. No swing and no obvious pace or bounce in the pitch.
Pat Cummins will open the bowling for Australia. Rohit Sharma on strike for India.
Ian Gould and Chris Gaffaney are your umpires. Nigel Llong is watching on TV.
Here we go!
Anthem time at the Oval. A chance for me to ask, is this the best ever World Cup for kits? Cut, colours, design, they all seem spot on this year. Makes for a nice change.
India winning the toss and batting first means of course that the drama over MS Dhoni’s gloves will have to wait a few hours.
The discussion about bowlers – net bowlers in particular – requiring protection has sparked some debate. We’ll feed that through the OBO throughout the day.
Gary’s identification of T20 crowds being at risk is also a valid point to raise.
Like an underground MC, I am here for the shout-outs, like this one from Jerry Sharpe. “A big shout-out for my life-long friend Mr Clive Osmond who will be delivering the ICC Trophy to the field before todays match. So pleased for him and know he’s proud and honoured to have been selected.” Onya Clive.
“I saw an ominous smirk creep out the side of Virat Kohli’s face as he pondered the bright sunshine and called batting a ‘no brainer’,” emails the mysteriously named Yum (presumably an Australian fan).
Yes, Kohli did look like the cat that found a swimming pool full of cream, but then the CricViz boffins have just informed us that Australia haven’t lost a World Cup chase since 1999!
Australia’s return to ominous form has coincided with Mitchell Starc relocating his mojo. The star of the 2015 World Cup is one of the greatest ODI bowlers in history (currently top of the tree for average and strike-rate for bowlers with 150+ wickets) but inconsistency has plagued the left-arm quick in recent seasons. With the help of Andre Adams, Starc is on his way back to his best.
India are also unchanged. That fearsome top three against Australia’s rapid new ball attack promises to be thrilling.
India XI: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (c), KL Rahul, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Australia are unchanged, which means still no place for Nathan Lyon on a surface that looks like it could favour the GOAT.
Australia XI: Aaron Finch (c), David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Alex Carey (wk), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa.
India win the toss and will bat first
Virat Kohli is delighted to have first use of a dry Oval pitch. The Indian skipper thinks the deck will be hard and full of runs early and offer turn and variable bounce later.
Aaron Finch admits he would have batted first also, concerned by how dry the pitch is and how that might affect playing conditions later.
As expected, both sides have named unchanged XIs.
Australia’s preparations for today’s game were disrupted when David Warner struck a drive that hit one of his team’s net bowlers in the head. The bowler, Jaykishan Plaha, was taken to hospital as a precaution in an incident that left Warner “shaken up”.
I’m surprised (and relieved) we don’t have more of these incidents in the modern game where power hitting is reaching Marvel superhero levels and bowling – especially net bowling – is little more than cannon fodder. At club level I’ve flinched many a time when my Angus Fraser-lites have fizzed back towards me with interest and I’ve never gone near a net with someone like Warner and his Kaboom at the other end of it.
Helmets are now commonplace for umpires in limited overs matches and forearm shields are even used on occasion, but bowlers remain unprotected. The primacy of self preservation surely means it can’t be too long before precautions are taken as standard, while the workplace health and safety requirements of venues may end up compelling changes whether players like them or not.
I just wonder if we’ve been taking something for granted because that’s how it’s always been and there hasn’t yet been the serious incident to force a rethink when a risk assessment would raise a pretty obvious red flag? That said, Luke Fletcher did miss half a season for Notts a couple of years ago after a nasty incident.
What do you all think?
Yesterday’s action saw New Zealand and England complete the comprehensive victories expected of them. The Black Caps are the first team to three wins and remain on course for the semi-finals, while the form of Jason Roy and Jofra Archer restored the optimism of home fans following the upset defeat to Pakistan. However, the discomfort in Jos Buttler’s hip that prevented one of the stars of the tournament from keeping wicket will be of some concern.
Here’s your track. It’s a used pitch but is it dry enough to force either side to shuffle their packs? Early suggestions from the ground are that both teams will name unchanged XIs.
A little diversion before we focus on the task in hand. Congratulations French Open champion Ash Barty on becoming the fifth first-class cricketer to win a tennis Grand Slam title and the first in 106 years.
The 23-year old’s story is really something. A junior tennis prodigy Barty gave the game up to play cricket a few years ago, competing for the Heat in the 2015-16 WBBL. Since her return to the WTA Tour she has blossomed, culminating in her incredible achievement at Roland Garros.
Some good news to begin with – it’s dry in London!
Following the washout in Bristol earlier this week there have been some nervous glances skywards in anticipation of this blockbuster but the Oval should be dry all day. It’s not going to be hot with a blustery southerly keeping temperatures in the high teens.
Hello everybody and welcome to match 14 of the 2019 Cricket World Cup – and it’s a corker – India versus Australia from The Oval.
Both perennial contenders arrive in south London undefeated during this early phase of the tournament for what is perhaps our first glimpse yet of a head-to-head contest that may repeat in the knockout phase. Still an age away from the business end of this competition neither side will want to cede the psychological advantage.
India are still feeling their way having taken their opening bow much later than their rivals and they have a score to settle with Australia having suffered three consecutive ODI defeats on home soil to the defending champions in preparation for this World Cup.
Those Australian victories have proven the catalyst for a remarkable turnaround in form. A miserable record of eight wins in 33 ODIs and confusion over selection and strategy has been replaced by ten wins on the spin, accompanied by big names back in the side and bang in form. It’s the Australian cricket team at a World Cup, would you expect anything less?
The highlights of this tournament will be the big hits and massive scores but beneath those gaudy figures it remains the bowlers who will determine many results. Even if the numbers don’t look pretty at first glance, once we acclimatise to this brave new world a semblance of order will appear. Today for example the gloriously free-scoring Oval may well host all manner of eye-watering records but the duel between Jasprit Bumrah and Mitchell Starc may well prove decisive. Both pacemen take wickets early and often and both are a slogger’s nightmare at the death.
Anyhow, with play to begin in about an hour (10.30am local / 7.30pm AET) there’s plenty more time to consider what’s ahead of us.