Warner’s innings provided the platform for Maxwell to launch from at the back end of the innings in a fixture that was not an official ODI. Less fluent was the acting captain George Bailey, who played in fits and starts during his 44. He grows more likely to be the man to make way when Michael Clarke is passed fit after hamstring surgery.
India’s reply was notable only for a return to runs from Shikhar Dhawan, who showed improved balance and intent while making 59, and another useful innings from Ajinkya Rahane. Otherwise MS Dhoni’s men showed little sign of escaping the torpor that has seen them fail to win a single match on the tour so far – the flight home presently appears more tempting than the prospect of a successful Cup defence.
Rohit Sharma’s return from a hamstring injury was brief, ending when he snicked a well-pitched ball from Josh Hazlewood to Aaron Finch at slip. Virat Kohli started fluently on a pitch that showed many of the characteristics of a block of concrete, but dragged Mitchell Starc onto the stumps before he could threaten further.
Dhawan and Rahane looked at ease during a stand of 104 that momentarily had India looking like they could make a tilt at the distant target, but both delivered catches to mid-on while trying to clear Bailey’s field and the rest of the middle order melted away – Starc’s long arms pulling in a super catch to dismiss Dhoni.
A pesky union between Ravindra Jadeja and the impressive Ambati Rayudu served mainly to give a crowd of 13,909 something to cheer about. The noise generated by a large Indian contingent lent the occasion an atmosphere more Ahmedabad than Adelaide, even if the attendance was considerably less than expected given that all “free” tickets had been snapped up sometime before game day.
Warner and Finch had made a sound start after Bailey had won the toss, rattling to 62 inside nine overs before Finch shovelled Stuart Binny to mid-on. Shane Watson also made a start before miscuing an attempted pull off Mohit Sharma, who has replaced Ishant Sharma in India’s Cup squad.
India’s bowlers struggled to contain throughout, apart from a phase in which R Ashwin and Axar Patel put some clamp on the scoring by tying down Bailey. Warner’s hundred arrived in 80 balls, though he never appeared to be rushing or straining for effect. A well-flighted delivery from Axar eventually did for him, but not before Australia had been given the ideal base for later acceleration.
Maxwell duly provided it with an innings of power and poise, even if his infatuation with the reverse-sweep saw him try it no fewer than three times in a single over from Axar – two fours followed by a top-edge, and then an orthodox version of the sweep for six over midwicket.
Upon passing 50, Maxwell moved into full destruction mode, clattering the bowlers with something like impunity and rendering MS Dhoni powerless to protect the boundaries. By the time he retired on 122 from 57 deliveries, Maxwell’s last 29 balls had reaped 88 runs.
India’s fielding and bowling gave the impression that they were not fresh for a new tournament but jaded by more than 70 days without a win of any kind in Australia. The day after he reckoned India would be among the best fielding sides at the tournament, Suresh Raina turfed a skier from Pat Cummins.
A late fade of the Australian innings meant they did not bat out 50 overs, the only real blemish to an effort that showed the team is building up a fair head of stem for the Cup proper. Nothing of the sort can be said about India.