In more ways than one the match was a throwback. Not perhaps as far back as the retro days of the blazing yellow jerseys, the replicas of the 1987 World Cup, the Australians wore on Saturday. But the match could easily have been rolled out in the late 90s or the early aughts, rather than the T20 milieu, suffused with eerie similarities to the India-Australia encounters of a distant past. Back when 280s were still stiffening, back when Australian seamers menaced India with the new ball, and back when Indian batting straddled and consoled in futile solo acts.
By uber-modern standards, 288 is a stroll. So there were legitimate reasons for the Indian bowlers, especially for Mohammed Shami, to believe they’d put in an tidy shift. In alliance with Bhuvneshwar Kumar, they chained the Australian top order in a chalice of good old fashioned line-and-length bowling. Maybe, they flagged a bit at the death, but still 289 is not as daunting as it once used to be.
Not least when the Australian pace-pack comprised a new-ball pair with a collective experience of four matches and a long-sidelined seamer playing his first ODI in eight years. But the trio of Jhye Richardson, debutant Jason Behrendorf and Peter Siddle orchestrated a vintage show to rattle the top-order, from which India never really recovered. You can blame MS Dhoni as much as you want for his crawl, or commiserate with Rohit Sharma for his bravado hundred, battling back pain and the steep run-rate, or pinpoint the defeat to the flimsy middle-order.