|Adam Voges en route his unbeaten 76,
in Mohali, on Saturday
Mohali: At 6’4’’, Ishant Sharma is the tallest player in the Indian side. But he couldn’t stand tall in Mohali, on Saturday.
India looked very much the winner till the 47th over of the Australian innings. Chasing 304, the visitors were 260 for six and still needed 44 runs off 18 balls. Adam Voges and James Faulkner were playing well, but still it was pretty difficult job.
But then, Ishant was right there to make it easy for the Aussies. Given the responsibility of the 48th over, Ishant bled 30 runs to bring down the equation to 14 required off 12 balls. Faulkner shredded Ishant’s bowling to pieces as he hit four sixes and a boundary in that over.
Before the 48th over, the Aussies were chasing a daunting total. After the 48th over, the Indians were defending a handful of runs.
Ravichandran Ashwin bowled intelligently to concede just 5 runs in the 49th over. But that was not enough as the Aussies needed just the first three deliveries of the 50th over, bowled by Ranganath Vinay Kumar, to reach the target.
The four-wicket victory helped the visitors nose ahead with a 2-1 lead in the seven-match series.
Voges was the top scorer for the Aussies with 76 not out, but Faulkner undoubtedly was the hero for his unbeaten 29-ball 64. The Man of the Match hit half-a-dozen over boundaries and two fours. Earlier, captain George Bailey played a steady hand with a 60-ball 43.
For India, Ishant was the most expensive specialist bowler, giving away 63 off his 8 overs. Ravindra Jadeja was the best with figures of 10-0-31-1. Ishant’s economy in the last three ODIs read 8.00 (Pune), 7.77 (Jaipur) and 7.87 (Mohali). If he still manages to keep his place in the playing XI in the next match, Ishant should be made the ambassador of a popular brand of adhesive.
Interestingly, Ashwin was brought into the attack as late as the 29th over by Dhoni.
The match, however, should ideally have been remembered for Dhoni’s awesome batting. One isn’t sure whether it’s right or wrong, but it’s a fact that India’s No.6 batsman is actually the No.1.
Dhoni has got nine ODI hundreds, Saturday’s 139 not out included, to his credit. But the India captain is beyond such mundane statistics. In fact, had he batted up the order, his centuries column could have been heavier. It’s the way the man goes about his game, calmness and dominance intertwined into a superhuman whole, which defines why he is revered by the mass and the class alike.
On Saturday, Dhoni walked onto the ground in the 14th over. When he walked out, unconquered, after the last ball of the 50th over of the Indian innings, the Australians didn’t know what went wrong, because they didn’t err much on the field.
India ended up with 303/9 on the board, a total which didn’t look possible when they were reduced to 154 for six in the 32nd over.
But then for Dhoni, impossible is just a yorker-length delivery which he digs out with his famous ‘helicopter shot’ to send the ball flying over the ropes. Ask Faulkner, who gave away 21 runs in the last over of the innings, and he will vouch for that.
Unlike the second ODI, India didn’t have an encouraging start in Mohali. Dhawan (8) was dismissed in the second over while Rohit (11) fell in the seventh. Kohli, however, looked in silken touch and continued from where he had left in Jaipur. It was as if he generated strokes with just the shrug of his shoulders, showing complete disdain for the Aussie bowlers.
But then confidence was only present at Kohli’s end. At the other end, it was chaos, courtesy some hostile bowling by the Australian pacers. India, in fact, lost three of their batsmen — Rohit, Suresh Raina (17) and Ravindra Jadeja (2) — to short-pitched stuff.
The Kohli-Dhoni partnership earned India 72 runs for the fifth wicket before the former fell in the 30th over. An attempted back-foot push off part-timer Glenn Maxwell resulted in a thin edge to the ’keeper.
Dhoni paced his innings like a master. While his 50 came off 77 balls, his end of the innings score of 139 not out was off 121 balls. Seventy eight of those runs came from boundaries (12x4, 5x6). That means he ran 61 runs. Now consider the fact that he was struggling to run with an ankle injury in the 14th over of the innings. That’s Dhoni.
Australia captain Bailey dropped him off the first ball of the 49th over. Dhoni made him regret that by plundering three fours and three sixes off the remaining balls. But then, Bailey had the last laugh.