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RANCHI: Rain had the final say in the fourth ODI between India and Australia, but not before the hosts’ bowlers were handed another spanking at skipper MS Dhoni’s homeground, the JSCA Stadium, on Wednesday night. Set a challenging 296-run target to restore parity in the series, India were 27 without loss in 4.1 when an incessant downpour put paid to all hopes of a completed match, leading to an abandonment.
Each team should have batted atleast 20 overs apiece for the game to have an official result. This also implied that Australia, who needed to win the seven-match competition by a 6-1 margin to dislodge India from the No.1 ODI ranking, can no longer hope for the top spot, at least not in this series.
The match began with two surprises, only one pleasant: Ishant Sharma expectedly making way for Mohammad Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar giving way to Jaydev Unadkat. Shami (3/42) justified his inclusion almost immediately after Dhoni sent the visitors in and had them in some distress at 71/4 in the 15th over.
Helped immeasurably by some poor catching by the Indians, who dropped a total of five, Australia capitalized to the hilt. Skipper George Bailey was put down three times and went on to score 98. Glenn Maxwell received a reprieve too and he plundered 92. It was thanks to this pair - and the 153 in 22.4 overs that they collated – that Australia were able ride the choppy waters to a big total.
They had looked nowhere near that when Shami began with a brilliant spell in helpfully overcast conditions. He claimed all three victims in his first spell of six overs. Opener Aaron Finch (5) was the first casualty when he was bowled through the gate. His partner Phil Hughes (11) was next when he suspended his bat outside off just long enough for a nick to travel to Dhoni.
Shami could even have had Bailey first ball, but Kohli made a hash of the chance at third slip. After a brief interruption for rain, the young fast bowler, who regularly touched speeds of over 140 kmph, sent Shane Watson’s off-stump for a tumble. Ashwin was introduced in the 13th and had to wait for another over before he trapped Adam Voges (7) leg-before – a fast slider barreling through the batsman’s attempted paddle sweep.
Bailey was dropped again on 35, by Ashwin at mid-wicket off Vinay, even as Maxwell reached his half-century in 45 balls with a six off Jadeja. The million-dollar man was dropped by Dhoni off Raina on 69, but Bailey’s luck ran out when he when he top-edged Vinay during the Powerplay, for Rohit to hold a simple catch at mid-wicket.
Jadeja bowled the new man Brad Haddin and in the next over Vinay trapped Maxwell in front. Faulkner and Johnson pushed Australia near the magic mark with an intelligent association for 43 runs. But even they were unable to garner what would have been the team’s fourth consecutive score north of 300.