Conquering Aussies still a distant dream
India capitulated shamelessly losing the last 9 wickets for 46 runs to give Australia a 25-run victory in the fourth ODI, here on Wednesday after outstanding centuries by Shikhar Dhawan (126) and Virat Kohli (106).
Chasing a substantial 349 for their first win in the series, the visitors were given a great start by Rohit Sharma, who hit a breezy 41 off 25 balls before Dhawan and Kohli set up a rollicking partnership of 212 runs for the second wicket off 177 balls to take the team to 277 without any further loss when Dhawan fell to mark a long procession of Indian batsman returning to the pavilion.
Kohli hit 106 off only 92 balls for his second successive century in the series before a soft dismissal and then Dhoni (0) lasted only three balls to dash India’s hopes with another frontline batsman Ajinkya Rahane injured although he did come into bat making only 2 runs.
India’s fourth successive defeat in the five-match series came a day after Team Director Ravi Shastri had said that “there is absolutely no shame in the way they have played despite recent results,” but after the match Dhoni took responsibility of the loss.
When India finally got dismissed for 323 in 49.2 overs, Australia registered their 18th consecutive win in ODIs played at home.
India now have five centuries in the series with Rohit and Virat helping themseleves to two each and now Dhawan has also scored a hundred. However poor bowling has cost them dearly in this series.
Chasing 349, Rohit and Dhawan set a hectic pace from the very start. They were helped by Australia’s ploy of starting with Nathan Lyon (1-76) from one end.
It helped the Indian batsmen, with Rohit going on the attack straightaway, and the 50-mark came up in just 44 balls.
He played a quick-fire knock which set up the chase and the next pair didn’t look back after that.
Dhawan’s innings had 14 boundaries and two sixes while Kohli hit 11 boundaries and a six.
But he was gone after gloving the ball down the leg side off Kane Richardson (5/68) in the 8th over. Kohli and Dhawan then continued with smacking the ball at will, and the next 50 runs for India came in just 30 balls, with the 100-mark coming up in the 13th over.
When it started to drizzle, it assured that the Duckworth/Lewis method would be the least of their worries.
Meanwhile, nothing was working for Australian bowlers on a flat track, as the Indian duo didn’t let up the pressure of scoring, that too without offering a single chance.
James Faulkner (0-48), Mitchell Marsh (2-55), Glenn Maxwell (0-10) and Steve Smith (0-16), all were taken for runs in their initial spells as the Dhawan-Kohli scoring rate never dipped below seven-per-over.
Their 100-stand came up in just 78 balls, as Dhawan reached his fifty off 49 balls in the 17th over while Kohli got there in just 34 balls in the 19th over. They gained further momentum after this as the 150-mark came up in the 20th over and before the end of the 26th over, India had already breached the 200-mark.
When India crossed 250 in only the 34th over, the possibility of a first-ever successful 300-plus run-chase against Australia in Australia became very real.
Dhawan had reached his 9th ODI hundred off 92 balls, in the 31st over, his first ODI century since March last year.
Shortly afterwards Kohli reached his 25th ODI hundred off 84 balls in the 36th over, his second successive hundred of the series. At this juncture, it was about one of these two batsmen finishing it off.
But Dhawan was caught at backward point in the 38th over with Hastings breaking the 212-run stand. It started a downslide for India as skipper MS Dhoni was out for a three-ball duck, caught behind in the same over for a double blow.
Perhaps the biggest jolt came when Kohli holed out straight to mid-off in the 40th over, Richardson finally striking.
Australia: Warner b Ishant 93 Finch c Ishant b Yadav 107 Marsh c Kohli b Yadav 33 Smith c Gurkeerat b Ishant 51 Maxwell c Pandey b Ishant 41 Bailey c Rohit b Ishant 10 Faulkner b Yadav 0 Wade run out 0 Hastings not out 0 Extras (LB-7, WD-6) 13 Total 348/8 Bowling: Umesh 10-1-67-3, Bhuvneshwar 8-0-69-0, Ishant 10-0-77-4, Gurkeerat 3-0-24-0, Rishi 9-0-53-0, Jadeja 10-0-51-0
India: Rohit c Wade b Richardson 41 Dhawan c Bailey b Hastings 126 Kohli c Smith b Richardson 106 Dhoni c Wade b Hastings 0 Gurkeerat c sub ( Marsh) b Lyon 5 Jadeja not out 24 Rahane c Smith b Richardson 2 Rishi c Warner b Richardson 9 Bhuvneshwar c Smith b Richardson 2 Umesh c Bailey b Marsh 2 Ishant c Wade b Marsh 0 Extras (W-5, NB-1) 6 Total: (in 49.2 overs) 323 FoW: 1-65, 2-277, 3-277, 4-278, 5-286, 6-294, 7-308, 8-311, 9-315, 10-323. Bowling: Lyon 10-0-76-1, Richardson 10-1-68-5, Hastings 10-0-50-2, Faulkner 7-0-48-0, Marsh 9.2-0-55-2, Maxwell 1-0-10-0, Smith 2-0-16-0.
Dhoni takes blame, to find ‘positives’
A dejected Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni took the blame for the team’s astonishing 25-run defeat against Australia on Wednesday but surprisingly tried to pick “positives” from the debacle in which the last 9 wickets fell for a mere 46 runs.
“It was my wicket (the turning point of the match) because that is my role in the team to make sure that we finish off the game from that position. We lost quite a few wickets there but mainly it was my wicket, according to role and responsibility in the side,” Dhoni owned up the responsibility after India snatched defeat from jaws of victory.
But the most surprising aspect was skipper trying to harp on the positives.
“We are definitely disappointed, but you want to take the positives. If we could have batted better than we did after I lost my wicket, this game could have gotten over in 46th or 47th over. You look at it that way. And I feel there were a lot of positives in today’s game, especially in the batting department. Rohit’s knock gave the opening push and the next partnership between Virat (Kohli) and Shikhar (Dhawan) was fantastic,” skipper said in defence of his team.
“It all depends on how you want to take it. After the first three losses, people were saying it was difficult to come back, but in this game we came back really well. It also gave a glimpse of what you see in the T20s, a lot of flamboyant cricket,” he said. He admitted that Rahane’s webbing injury was a factor.
“Yes, Rahane’s injury was also a factor. He had a few stitches and he had taken local anesthesia, so we had to wait and push him down the order until he got some kind of feeling back in his hand. Then only he could bat,” said the skipper.