Peter Handscomb, the Australia middle-order batsman, credited the work put in with former Test opener Chris Rogers after scoring his maiden one-day international century to set up a record Australian chase against India in Mohali on Sunday, 10 March.
The Australia No. 4 blasted 117 off 105 balls to put the Australian chase on track after they had been reduced to 12/2 in pursuit of 359. Handscomb began the recovery by adding 192 for the third wicket with Usman Khawaja, who fell nine short of a century of his own.
By the time he departed, Australia needed 84 from 53 balls. It set the stage up for a brutal assault from Ashton Turner, as Australia ran down the target with 13 balls to spare in a stunning finish.
“I have been working on my technique with Chris Rogers since the last one year, and felt I lost my straight drive and cover drive prior to that,” he said. “We worked upon the basics and going back to some things in my technique.
"Cricket is still a fickle game and one has high and lows during a career. To get dropped from the Test team and now pushing my case for white-ball cricket and this century is good for me.”
The Test axing had come after a middling run during Australia’s 2-1 series defeat to India at home. Handscomb totalled 105 runs in five innings with a best of 37. When he was dropped, he hadn’t made a fifty in 11 Test innings.
He had also not had a consistent run with the one-day team. Before the ongoing series against India, Handscomb had played just 11 ODIs in over two years since his debut in January 2017. However, he hit form during the 2018-19 One-Day Cup, where he topped the run charts for Victoria with 361 runs in seven innings, averaging 51.57 and striking at 94.75.
That earned him a recall to the one-day team for the home series against India, where he hit back with 151 runs in three ODIs, with two half-centuries. Now, with the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019 looming, Handscomb is peaking at the ideal time to cement a spot.
“I am pretty happy about today’s knock,” he said. “I had a stop-and-go start in ODI cricket and getting an opportunity at such a stage means that you have to take it. It was nice to get a hundred today in tough conditions. It feels special.”
Australia pull off their biggest ODI chase to level the series in Mohali!— ICC (@ICC) March 10, 2019
Ashton Turner finishes it superbly with 84 off 43 balls after Handscomb (117) and Khawaja (91) set up a fantastic pursuit. Australia win by four wickets! #INDvAUS scorecard ➡️ https://t.co/X4QGtIjbn2 pic.twitter.com/OnUn4p3DZD
Handscomb’s innings stood out for the manner in which he tackled India’s spinners. He did have some luck going his way – Rishabh Pant fluffed a simple stumping chance off Kuldeep Yadav – and it was spin that eventually got the better of him, when Yuzvendra Chahal made him reach out to a wide delivery and toe-end a catch to long-off.
But for the large part, Handscomb met the pitch of their deliveries with confident strides and pierced all corners of the field. He also ensured minimal dots and never let the pressure build up.
In all, Handscomb collected 87 runs off the 64 balls he faced from Chahal, Yadav and Kedar Jadhav. “Both Chahal and Kuldeep are very good spinners. The conditions were tough today for them as the ball started slipping from their hands due to dew. Despite that, they bowled very well and used their craft well, changing the pace of the ball.”
“Facing a bowler like Kedar Jadhav is always tough as he does not give much bounce and getting under him is tough. But I was targeting the boundary at some stage. Jasprit Bumrah is also a world-class bowler and we respected him during his middle-overs spell.”
Handscomb also reserved praise for Ashton Turner for effectively finishing the job he had started, and put down Australia’s win to knowing when to attack during the chase.
“To chase a total more than 350 facing India in India has to be certainly up there for us. It gives you so much confidence as a team and it is good before the series against Pakistan and the World Cup,” he said. “I think it became a T20 chase once I departed. During the chase, we knew when to pull the trigger a couple of times and when to pull it down, and it worked well for us.
“We all had seen Ashton play such knocks in the BBL and he knew whom to target in the last nine overs. We had a sort of belief at the start of the T20 series, and to come and do it again in the ODIs proved that it was not a fluke.”
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