Millennium Post

Super chasers

Chasing a mammoth victory target is never easy. But India achieved the feat with remarkable ease last week, overhauling Australia’s imposing 359 with as many as 39 balls to spare and nine wickets in hand. When Australia put up the same total in the 2003 World Cup final in Johannesburg, Ricky Ponting’s men cantered to a massive 125-run victory. But at Jaipur’s Sawai Mansingh Stadium, India sizzled under lights with their top three  going hammer and tong against a formidable Oz attack with records tumbling like nine pins.

The protagonists of the action-packed run chase, Shikhar Dhawan (95, 86b, 4x14), Rohit Sharma (141*, 123b, 4x17, 6x4) and Virat Kohli  (100*, 52b, 4x8, 6x7), belong to the new generation of Indian cricketers who are not afraid to take the fight to the other side, looking straight into the eyes of their opposite numbers. Against Australia at Jaipur, Indian batting’s ‘Gen-Next’ troika again showed why they are not scared of any target, reasserting India’s supremacy in the 50-over format as numerous records  were smased in the process.

It was India’s best run chase ever in one-day internationals, the second best in overall ODI history. Kohli’s 52-ball century is the fastest century in ODIs by an Indian batsman. The previous best was by Virender Sehwag, who scored a hundred off 60 balls against New Zealand in 2009. The knock is also the fastest in ODIs against Australia. New Zealand’s Craig McMillan held the record before Kohli, scoring a century off 67 balls at Hamilton in 2007. India’s run-rate of 8.32 was the fourth highest for a 300-plus total in the second innings of an ODI. Incidentally, this was the third time that Australia posted 359 in an ODI against India. The previous two were won by Australia by 125 and 208 runs.

Among India’s top chases, Kohli’s performance stands out in as many as four matches barring the one played at Jaipu. It all started in Kolkata in 2009 against Sri Lanka. Chasing a massive 325, Kohli (101) played the perfect foil to his senior senior partner Gautam Gambhir (150*) as India romped home with three overs to spare. At Visakhapatnam in 2010, Kohli (118) anchored India to a facile victory over Australia who posted a challenging total of 289. The Delhi boy sizzled again at Hobart, Australia, in 2012, smashing a whirlwind 86-ball 133 to pull off a sensational amazing victory over Sri Lanka, surpassing a formidable 325. However, the best was against arch-rivals Pakistan in the Asia Cup at Mirpur last year. Chasing 330, Kohli smashed 183 (148 balls) and by the time he got out, India had progressed to 318/4 in 47.1 overs after which victory was a mere formality.

The greatest ever run chase in ODI history came in 2006 in the deciding fifth ODI between hosts South Africa and Australia in Johannesburg. By the end of Australia’s innings, the match, and series, appeared as a no contest. The Aussies had racked up 434 runs, then a world record, with captain Ricky Ponting smashing 164, one of the greatest one-day innings. While chasing, South Africa’s Herschelle Gibbs (175) played an even better innings as the Proteas blasted their way past Australia’s total in the final over with Mark Boucher (50*) completing the rout in the final over.
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