Australia’s loss of form in the lead-up to the World Cup continued with a five-wicket loss to India in the first one-day international in Mohali.
After paceman Mohammed Shami restricted Australia to 276 with a career-best 5-51, India reached the winning target with eight balls to spare at the Inderjit Singh Bindra Stadium on Friday (Saturday AEST).
Openers Shubman Gill (74′) and Ruturaj Gaikwad (71′) provided a wonderful platform before incumbent captain KL Rahul (58′) finished off the tourists with a loft from Sean Abbott for a four and a six.
It was Australia’s fourth consecutive ODI defeat after they ended their recent tour of South Africa 3-2 with three straight wins and more than 100 runs.
Gill, who played a starring role in India’s recent Asian Cup triumph, looked confident and is considered one of the World Cup’s greats.
He collected a magnificent half-century from 37 deliveries by dismissing debutant Matt Short for six deliveries.
Gaikwad, who also batted fluently and scored his maiden ODI 50, and Gill scored 142 for the first wicket before Adam Zampa (2-52) caused a mini-collapse.
Gaikwad was blown up trying to sweep Zampa before the legspinner fired a skidder that uprooted Gill’s off-stump.
The double strike slowed down Shreyas Iyer (3) and India lost 3-9 after 24 balls.
Zampa should have had Rahul as his counterpart but dropped a routine return catch which proved costly.
The dashing Suryakumar Kumar (50), a Twenty20 master whose 50-over game is still a work in progress, delivered a timely first half-century and, along with Rahul, secured a crucial 80-run fifth-wicket stand.
Australia captain Pat Cummins, playing his first game since the Ashes, made a promising return to the bowling after his elbow injury and finished the game with 1-44.
Earlier, David Warner (52), Josh Inglis (45), Steve Smith (41) and Marnus Labuschagne (39) threatened to put Australia in control in hot, humid conditions but none were able to fully capitalize on their promising starts.
Shami was the main destroyer, beating Mitchell Marsh (4) in the first over, bowling Smith with a great in-ducker and then making his way to the bottom order.
Inglis, Marcus Stoinis (29) and Cummins (21 no) increased the strike rate as the game progressed to give the Australian attack something to bowl with.