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India weren’t perfect today. But they beat Australia the hard way. And nothing satisfies a team more than a hard-fought win when it is going through a rut.
A pale-looking MS Dhoni got off to an agonisingly slow start of three runs in 17 balls. But he caught up with the pace at the end, capping off a tight chase for 270 by getting India the 13 needed in the final over from Clint McKay.
It helped India burst past some glass ceilings – they had never beaten Australia in an ODI in Adelaide, and had never chased more than 242 against the hosts in their country. More importantly, the win would take the attention away from the howls of protest after Sachin Tendulkar was rested today.
The chase was set up by Gautam Gambhir’s 92 and a couple of thirties from Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina. But each time they seemed at ease, Indian batsmen got out to rash shots to complicate matters.
Virender Sehwag (after adding 52 with Gambhir) got out to McKay trying to flick a loose ball on the leg. Virat Kohli was caught at the cover boundary trying to hit a six. And Rohit, having looked in total ease, played a ridiculous chip shot to be caught at long-off.
The win was in sight before India nearly botched it the chase by playing out two quiet overs from left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty in which Raina yorked himself, and Ravindra Jadeja holed out to midwicket, leaving the game precariously balanced.
Dhoni biffed McKay’s second ball of the final over into the banks behind long-on, one of the biggest boundaries in international cricket. The hit may have easily been about 120 metres long. Dhoni swung the next ball, a waist-high full-toss to midwicket, where it was caught by David Warner. The no-ball was called, leaving India three runs to get from three balls.
He swung it to midwicket again, taking three runs, coolly collecting a souvenir stump and walking off the park. At the award ceremony, Dhoni said he had hit a longer six in his pre-India days. It put in the shade a pull shot by Rohit for six – probably the most authoritative shot an Indian batsman had done on this tour of Australia.
India Raise Fielding Standards
India did two things well today. They fielded well, and bowled tightly in the last 10 overs (conceding 57-4), displaying a real urgency to keep Australia’s score down. India scored four run-outs in the second T20 in Melbourne. Today they had three, plus a sharp catch by Virender Sehwag to dismiss Hussey.
Sehwag’s catch was crucial. Australia looked set for a score close to 300. Sehwag’s tumbling effort at square leg cut short Hussey’s stay at 72. But the run-outs of David Warner and Daniel Christian were also crucial in keeping Australia under check.
Forrest Shines On Debut
The merits of the rotation system is another topic. The fact is that Australia have come out of their worst slump in years on the basis of really good selections. Today, the right-handed Peter Forrest came in for Mike Hussey, who has been given a week’s rest.
Forrest in only 26 and has played just 37 First Class games. This is in sharp contrast with Hussey, who was 30 and nearly 15,000 First Class runs down before he wore the Baggy Green. But like Hussey when he appeared on the scene, Forrest looked ready for the big league.
On his international debut, Forrest looked at ease – off the front-foot, off the back-foot, against pace or spin. You’d expect an Australian batsman coming out of Brisbane to be really good against pace bowling. But Forrest impressed with his footwork against Indian spinners too.
Twice he walked down to Jadeja and Rohit – that walk is rarely seen in the stand-and-deliver era – and lofted them over the straight field for six. If you could find one blemish in the innings, it was that Dhoni didn’t consider exposing Forrest to Zaheer Khan, and gave a long run to his spinners, none of whom were particularly impressive today.
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