While running the single that brought up his 50 against Australia at the Wankhede stadium on Thursday, Maharashtra’s Yogesh Takawale clenched his fist. In the dressing room, captain Sairaj Bahutule and coach Chandrakant Pandit might have indulged in some soft celebration too.
The 20-year-old Takawale’s half-century was one of a handful of small victories for Maharashtra in the practice match for the Kangaroos before the Champions Trophy.
The bigger winners, of course, were the formidable Aussies. They triumphed by 103 runs. After scoring 297 for seven off 50 overs, they didn’t allow Maharashtra more than 194 for seven from their 50. Their opponents in the Champions Trophy better watch out.
If Takawale gave a good account of himself for Maharashtra, six symbol Andrew Symonds (78, 59b, 2x4, 7x6) and the skillful Shane Watson (70, 83b, 7x4, 2x6) rode high waves for Australia.
The match was delayed by half an hour. Curator Sudhir Naik said outfield dew caused the delay. Maharashtra won the toss, put Ricky Ponting’s unit in on what was for most part a batting wicket and sprang a surprise by opening the bowling with off-spinner Rohit Jadhav.
Far from being bludgeoned by openers Adam Gilchrist and Shane Watson, Jadhav and new-ball partner Aditya Dole were in control of the situation. Australia took 11.2 overs to get to their 50.
Australia lost Gilchrist (6) early, but Watson quietly gained solidity. The latter proved his physical strength with sweeps and hoicks. Fine, late tickles to third man showed he was seeing the ball well and had time to play his shots. His innings intensified the race for the opening spot between him and left-hander Simon Katich.
Captain Ricky Ponting played within himself. His cameo (24, 40b, 4x4) was relatively plain vanilla. But his dismissal was not.
Committing to a front foot drive to a Suyash Burkul delivery short of driving length, he sent a half-chance Abhishek Raut’s way at point. Raut leapt out in front to author a superb catch.
“We fielded well,” coach Pandit said. “Abhishek’s catch was among the highlights on the field for us.”
The second half of the match was set alight by Symonds. His brutal hitting, powerful frame and dreadlocks made him look like some sort of a cricketing caveman at work. He tore two successive sixes off Rohit Jadhav in the 37th over, followed by three off Bahutule in the 42nd. Two of them were consecutive.
Australia, conservative to begin with, now indulged. Mitchell Johnson and Brett Lee continued what Symonds had begun, roasting Burkul and Anupam Sanklecha in the last two overs.
Maharashtra’s reply began disappointingly. Lee plucked out openers Dheeraaj Jadhav and Harshad Khadiwale for next to nothing. Takawale, who retired due to cramps, Hrishikesh Kanitkar (33, 59b, 5x4) and S Sriram (22, 34b, 3x4) kept the fight alive. But their scoring rate was too slow. In any case, all Maharashtra could play for after a start like that, was respect.
Brief scores: Australia 297/7 in 50 overs (Andrew Symonds 78, Shane Watson 70, Damien Martyn 42; Rohit Jadhav 2/50, Aditya Dole 2/38) beat Maharashtra 194/7 (Yogesh Takawale 50, Hrishikesh Kanitkar 33; Brett Lee 2/13, Glenn McGrath 2/28).