Australia vs. India
India's Sharma celebrates with Dhoni after taking the wicket of Australia's Clarke during their one-day series cricket match in Melbourne. Reuters

The Indian national cricket team has lost the first match of the tri-nation One Day International (ODI) series involving themselves, hosts Australia and World Cup 2011 runners-up Sri Lanka.

The Australians, who enjoyed a dominant 4-match Test series over the Indians - winning all four in absolutely comprehensive fashion - and split the 2-match T20 series, continued their impressive form, dismissing the Indians well short of the required target of 217.

There was a lengthy break in the Australian innings, due to heavy rainfall. The rain came down in the 11<sup>th over of the innings and, as a result, the match was reduced to 32 overs-a-side.

The Indians won the toss, elected to field and got off to a surprisingly good start... especially since the Australian batsmen seemed to have had the measure of the Indian bowlers all through the tour.

Vinay Kumar (3/21 off 7 overs) justified the $1 million Indian Premier League outfit Royal Challengers Bangalore shelled out for him in Saturday's auction, with the early wickets of David Warner (6) and Ricky Ponting (2), to leave Australia tottering at 19/2. Rohit Sharma weighed in, with the wicket of Australian captain Michael Clarke (10), and at 49/3 Australia was in unfamiliar territory. India should have closed the innings emphatically.

However, as has become the trend, the visitors allowed the hosts back into the game. Australian wicketkeeper Matthew Wade smashed 67 off 69 deliveries; Michael Hussey 45 off 32 and David Hussey a brutal 61 of 30 balls. When the dust settled, Australia had compiled a massively daunting 216/5 off their 32 overs.

The Indians were always going to struggle to match those heroics, particularly since their batting has been considerably less than impressive all tour long.

As expected then, the much-vaunted Indian batting machine broke down.

The opening pair of Sachin Tendulkar (still searching for that elusive 100<sup>th international century) and Gautam Gambhir (the most expensive player at the 2011 Indian Premier League (IPL) auctions) departed for 2 and 5, respectively. Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, at least, did their own reputations no harm, with (in hindsight) extremely competitive scores of 31 (off 34 balls) and 21 (off 21 balls), respectively.

All in all, despite further half-hearted contributions of 29 (off 38 balls) and 19 (off 25 balls) from captain M.S. Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja (for whom, incidentally, the Chennai Super Kings have paid close to $6 million for the 2012 IPL season), the Indians were never ever going to trouble their hosts. They were bowled out for 151... 65 runs short of the required target. Australian seamer Clint McKay, in only his 16<sup>th ODI, was the pick of the bowlers, returning 4/20 from 4.4 overs.

The next match in the series will feature the Indians and the Sri Lankans... in a repeat of the 2011 World Cup final... on Feb. 8, at Perth. Meanwhile, Australia will next play on Feb. 10, also at Perth, against Sri Lanka.