Finch, Marsh hit half-centuries as side overhauls 309-run target to beat India by seven wickets
If catches win matches, it is equally true that missed chances will result in missed opportunities to win. India found that out the hard way, coming up short in a second successive One-Day International to fall 2-0 behind in the five-match series against Australia, George Bailey once again piloting a tricky chase for the home team at the Gabba in Brisbane on Friday (January 15).
The match followed the pattern set by the first ODI – Rohit Sharma scored a century, he kept India’s innings together, the batting didn’t get nearly enough in the final overs, and despite having its chances while bowling, the Australian outfit was just that much better. For good measure, Australia notched up another record chase at a ground, this time beating the 301 it had chased against England in January 2014.
Rohit Sharma’s brilliant 124 had powered India to 308 for 8, though that was short of the total it looked on course for when Rohit was at the crease, until his stay was cut short by the most unfortunate of endings – run-out at the non-striker’s end because James Faulkner got a touch to an Ajinkya Rahane drive that hit timber.
Rohit had shared stands of 125 (129 balls) with Virat Kohli and 121 (111 balls) with Rahane for the second and third wickets, but after he fell, the innings that had looked like taking off, just meandered. Rohit had driven India to 255 for 3 in 42.2 overs when he fell, but the remaining 46 balls brought only 53 runs while five wickets fell. A combination of good death bowling led by Faulkner and the batsmen’s inability to connect meant India ended up at least 20 short of what it had looked set for, a decisive difference in the end.
Bailey, who made 76 not out off just 58 balls, played perhaps Australia’s most impactful innings, taking control when the match was in balance as Australia got home in 49 overs, with seven wickets standing and Glenn Maxwell getting some batting time to be unbeaten on 26 off 25.
Australia’s reply was built on collective effort though, with Steven Smith’s 46 the lowest score of the top four, and each of Aaron Finch, Shaun Marsh and Bailey hitting contrasting half-centuries. Finch and Marsh began the chase by concentrating on laying a solid platform.
Both openers made 71, but Marsh was dropped four times during his knock, with two chances being very tough. The easiest came earliest though, when Marsh lifted Ravindra Jadeja to long-on in the 13th over, and saw Ishant Sharma put down the chance. Marsh was on 19 then and hadn’t really hit his stride. Tough chances were put down by Rahane when Marsh was on 22, and Barinder Sran’s effort when the batsman was on 57 would have been truly sensational, diving full length on the long-off fence. Manish Pandey too put him down on 69, standing at wide slip and not holding on to an edge off Ishant.
Marsh’s stay at the crease ended when he skied Ishant and Virat Kohli accepted the top edge at cover, but by then, Australia had motored to 166 for 2 in the 30th over. Finch, who had done the early running in the opening stand, had departed five overs earlier, brilliantly caught by Rahane at long-off while tumbling forwards.
That was the cue for Bailey and Smith, India’s first-ODI tormentors, to get together. This time their stand was worth only 78, but it came off only 11 overs and changed the momentum of the chase. Yadav breathed life back into the contest by rattling Smith’s stumps, but by then Bailey was into his 40s and middling the ball well. When Smith fell, the equation read 65 required from 55 balls, and given Australia’s depth in batting, India would have needed a few more inspirational bowling moments to squeeze out a win.
The day began with Shikhar Dhawan out early, again off a ball that bounced more than he expected, caught behind to give Joel Paris a maiden international wicket. Paris was part of Australia's raw pace attack that comprised Scott Boland, Faulkner, Kane Richardson and John Hastings. Among the five, none had played 50 ODIs.
Kohli and Rohit capitalised, building what looked like another substantial stand, getting to half-centuries within ten minutes of each other, Rohit getting there in the 19th over and Kohli raising the landmark in the 22nd.
In the next over, Rohit began to tee off against Richardson with two hits over the fence. The first, a pull off the front foot to a short ball, was a typical Rohit shot – one only he could play, which drew gasps before the inevitable applause. Two balls later, he smacked one over long-off, and India looked to be pulling away.
Kohli continued the aggression in the next over, stepping out and driving Boland through extra cover for four, before taking it a notch too far and attempting a suicidal second run, taking on Richardson’s arm at fine leg. Rohit had raised his hand to signal no after the first run, but Kohli ran anyway, leaving Rohit with no choice but to respond. Kohli put in a dive at the wicketkeeper’s end, but the throw was too good and Wade whipped the bails off bails with Kohli still short, having to leave for 59 off 67.
Given how well he was timing the ball, it was a waste of a wicket from India’s point of view, leaving it 134 for 2. Rahane then showed that the new one-day chops he had displayed in the series against South Africa were here to stay, getting in and staying busy to build an equally good stand alongside Rohit.
However, Rohit's dismissal took the wind out of India’s end-overs charge. MS Dhoni and Rahane were unable to get the big shots going, and the India captain became Boland’s first international victim, hitting him straight to long-on. Rahane tried to take the charge to the bowlers but the exemplary timing he had shown so far deserted him, and he was eventually one of Faulkner's two victims, going for 89 off 80 in the penultimate over.
India will now head to the third ODI in Melbourne knowing that another defeat will mean the series is lost at the first opportunity.