|Shikhar Dhawan on way to his 100
Nagpur: The next time Australia bat first in an ODI against India, especially in these conditions, they should make sure they get 400 or at least close to the mark. Else, they should be prepared to lose.
One needs to flip through the history pages to see on how many occasions a team successfully chased down 350 or more twice in a particular series.
After mauling the Aussie attack in Jaipur, where they chased 360, India once again had Australia at the receiving end in the sixth one-dayer, here, at the VCA Stadium, Jamtha, on Wednesday.
On this occasion, breathtaking centuries from the Delhi duo — Shikhar Dhawan (100) and Virat Kohli (115 not out) guided India to yet another fine victory, in pursuit of the opposition’s daunting 350 for six.
This was also India’s second highest successful run chase.
After Dhawan’s dismissal, India still needed another 117 to win in 14 overs. Mitchell Johnson, being erratic all the while, did what was expected from the strike bowler of a side.
He removed Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh in quick succession in the 43rd over to try and bring Australia back in the game. The two dismissals did apply the brakes on India’s scoring for a while, as captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (25 not out) took a bit of time to get going.
But Kohli, who seems to bring out his very best whenever India chase a big target, remained firm at one end and dispatched everything thrown at him. Of course, batting became more and more easier as the game progressed because of the dew as well as Australia’s mediocre bowling that doesn’t seem to have the calibre to take all 10 Indian wickets.
Still, even when it looked to be getting a tad difficult for the hosts as they needed 35 off the last three overs, Kohli remained calm and picked the gaps to perfection to keep the equation well within India’s reach.
Dhoni may have missed more than he connected. But he, too, got the boundaries at the right time. With six needed off the final over, he smashed James Faulkner’s full toss in between point and third man to the boundary.
Just two runs were required off the last four deliveries and Dhoni got them easily, with India reaching home in 49.3 overs.
The scintillating knocks from rival skipper George Bailey (156) and Shane Watson (102), after Australia were put in to bat, were forced to remain at the background as fielding second in this series has been a curse so far for either sides.
It’s 2-2 in the series now as the two teams head to Bangalore for a mouth-watering decider.
|Virat Kohli, in Nagpur, on Wednesday. The Man of the Match scored an unbeaten 115 off 66 balls to ensure India’s six-wicket victory. (PTI)
Not to forget, Dhawan and Rohit Sharma deserve a big amount of credit for laying yet another solid platform. Glenn Maxwell dropping a sitter to grant Dhawan a reprieve — off Faulkner’s bowling — when he was on 19 was without doubt, a costly error from Australia.
But that said, Ravindra Jadeja too overstepped to present Watson with an opportunity to register his ninth ODI century when the latter should have scored just 25.
Dhawan and Rohit relied mostly on cricketing shots instead of showing flamboyance, which was good enough to put Aussie bowlers to the sword. They put on 178 for the first wicket in less than 30 overs.
You couldn’t have asked for a better start especially when you have such a powerful batting line-up to follow.
Had Dhawan not suffered from cramps, Kohli and he could well have brought back Australia’s forgettable evening in Jaipur a fortnight ago.
Earlier, Bailey played the best innings of his career so far and Watson, too, took the maximum of the let-off. The pair added a rollicking 168-run partnership for the third wicket before Bailey added another 100-odd with Adam Voges (44 not out) as Australia were on top at the halfway stage.
Irrespective of the end result of this series, Bailey, at present, is the next best thing in Australian cricket, at least in the shorter format.
He has led the team with aplomb, taking up the captaincy reins after Michael Clarke pulled out when not many days were left for the start of the series.
So far, he’s done everything right. But for Australia to win the series, his bowlers need to raise their game and devise a way to get Kohli out early.
At the moment, the Johnsons and Mckays seem to be looking clueless in dealing with the 24-year-old.