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Sharma, 138, takes India to 267-8 in tri-series ODI

January 18, 2015

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Rohit Sharma scored 138 and shared a 126-run partnership with Suresh Raina to guide India to 267-8 as it batted first on Sunday in a tri-series one-day cricket international against Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Sharma opened the India innings and endured the early loss of Shikhar Dhawan (2), Ajinkya Rahane (12) and Virat Kohli (9) before he and Raina were able to defy the Australia attack and post a competitive total.

Raina fell for 51 - his 33rd ODI half century - shortly before Sharma progressed to his sixth century, in the 37th over, from 109 balls. He was out in the 49th over.

Fast bowler Mitchell Starc restricted India’s total, taking a wicket in the opening over then five more, including Raina, M.S.Dhoni (19) and Sharma for a career-best 6-43.

Early bounce in the MCG pitch accounted for the early dismissals of Dhawan — from the fifth ball of the match — Rahane and Kohli, but the wicket then settled to become typically conducive to batting.

Sharma both anchored and paced India’s innings: his century contained seven fours and three sixes but also 42 singles as he ensured the strike was regularly rotated.

India had been 59-3 when Raina came to the wicket and joined Sharma, who was then 29, and the pair stayed together through 22.1 overs during which India scored at nearly six runs per over.

Raina reached his half century from 61 balls with six fours and was especially harsh on the slower bowlers, using his feet expertly and punishing anything that was short and wide.

Starc, who took two wickets in the first over of Australia’s opening tri-series match against England to set up their three-wicket win, removed Dhawan with the fifth ball of his first over Sunday. He then returned to dismiss Raina with the last ball of the 35th over — the first of a batting powerplay in which India scored 21-1.

Starc then removed Dhoni and Akshar Patel (0) within two balls of each other in the 45th over and Sharma and Bhuvneshwar Kumar with consecutive balls in the 49th over.

Young medium pacer Gurdinder Sandhu made his ODI debut and bowled soundly to take 1-58.

Australia held the upper hand at the end of India’s innings but took almost four hours to bowl its 50 overs and captain George Bailey may face sanction for that slow over rate.

The acrimony that grew during the test series between the teams also resurfaced when Australia batsmen David Warner clashed verbally with Sharma and Raina.

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