Dhawan sets tone with 86-ball 95 as India scales down 360 with nine wickets to spare and 6.3 overs in the bag
It was a run feast to remember in Jaipur in the second One-Day International between India and Australia on Wednesday (October 16). George Bailey first led Australia to a huge 359 for 5 and if its batting effort was spectacular, the triumvirate of Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli were even better, making the target look utterly moderate and rounding off the chase in just 43.3 overs to seal a fantastic nine-wicket win.
Rohit and Dhawan set the perfect platform with a sparkling 176-run stand in 26 overs, and Kohli then took charge with a sensational assault. Kohli smashed eight fours and seven sixes in making a 52-ball 100, the fastest by an Indian in ODI cricket as he relegated Virender Sehwag’s 60-ball ton against New Zealand at Hamilton in March 2009 to second spot. Rohit brought up his third ODI ton and his first in more than three years as he associated himself in an unfinished 186-run partnership for the second wicket with Kohli.
India needed to get its scoring rate up from the very beginning and Rohit and Dhawan did just that. Mitchell Johnson, bowling at around 150 kmh, had to be treated with respect and he was. But there was no such luck for Clint McKay and Shane Watson, though McKay did have Brad Haddin drop a skier from Dhawan on 18. Dhawan survived another close call on 42, Haddin whipping off the bails after Xavier Doherty had beaten the batsman on the drive, but replays proved too inconclusive for him to be given out.
More importantly, Dhawan and Rohit were doing a brilliant job of keeping India in the game and, by the 20th over, they had reached 128 for no loss. Dhawan looked reckless at times, stepping out almost each delivery and missing as often as he hit. He appeared most in control when the Australian pacemen pitched it short, playing some glorious hooks and pulls, but played more than a few agricultural shots as well. Rohit, on the other hand, was all calm and composure, and while Dhawan rushed and attacked, Rohit waited, timed his strokes, found the gaps and looked set to see the job through.
Against the run of play, Dhawan fell, poking at one outside off from James Faulkner after scoring an 86-ball 95, striking 14 boundaries along the way. If the Australians thought Dhawan’s exit would bring them some respite, Kohli put paid to those plans. Kohli was bold, going down the track often, and each time he did, he connected strongly. Rohit was cramping, the desert heat clearly taking its toll, but he wasn’t about to chuck away the good work. He continued to hit the big ones and ran hard, much to Kohli’s delight, as he closed in on a well-deserved century.
The assault was measured and pleasing to watch. Kohli hit four sixes and three boundaries in reaching his half-century in just 27 balls and by then, the match was in India’s grasp. Rohit and Kohli both completed remarkable centuries, Rohit a responsible one – 141 not out in 123 balls -- and Kohli, a breathtaking one. In all, the Indians hit 39 fours and 11 sixes, the last four a Rohit flick off Maxwell to complete the second highest successful chase in ODI history.
The Australian innings was a story of two halves. The first 20 overs were about consolidation and setting a platform without losing too many wickets. And the next 30 overs were about Watson to start with, then a 32-ball blitz from Glenn Maxwell, and finally, most spectacularly, about Bailey, who seemed to hit every ball exactly where he wanted, with ease as he made an unbeaten 50-ball 92 with eight fours and five sixes.
The Indian pacemen, especially Ishant Sharma and R Vinay Kumar, were guilty of pitching the ball short and neither the pacers nor the spinners looked threatening at any stage. India’s only real opportunity in the early part of the innings came off some exceptionally poor cricket. It was in the tenth over and Ishant bowled short and wide, Finch cut but couldn’t keep it down, and Yuvraj Singh, fielding at point, spilt the chance.
The breakthrough came the only way it could have – a run out – in the 16th over. Finch had just pulled Vinay for a six, the first of 12 in the innings, and dabbed the next delivery towards cover and set off for a run. Suresh Raina’s direct hit caught Finch short and Australia were 74 for 1, Finch gone for a 53-ball 50.
Watson, in patchy form of late, brought out his flat-batted pulls and the straight six off Jadeja in the 25th over was imperious. He fell hoicking Vinay straight to Ishant at the long-on boundary but had hit six fours and three sixes in a 53-ball 59 by then. That was in the 32nd over and six overs later, R Ashwin had Hughes caught behind edging an attempted cut for 83 in 103 balls. But with the total at 212 and with seven wickets in hand, some big hitting was clearly on the cards.
Bailey and Maxwell provided it. Maxwell started the rock and roll with a swept six off Ashwin and the remainder of the innings passed in a haze of fours and sixes. Bailey and Maxwell played equal roles in the mayhem till Maxwell ran himself out after a brain freeze of sorts – running with the ball in Bhuvneshwar’s hands and ending up beside a bemused Bailey – after a 32-balll 53. Bailey was totally in control, signing off with a four over point as Australia equalled its highest ODI score against India – 359 for 2 in the 2003 World Cup final in Johannesburg, and 359 for 5 in Sydney in 2004.
Australia had added 122 runs in the last ten overs, but in the face of the Indian counter-attack, its best proved well below par.