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JAIPUR: India provided ample proof of their formidable strength at home as they pulled off their highest ever ODI chase to restored parity in the seven-match series against Australia. It was a game that saw record after batting record tumble and fall. The successful pursuit of 360 was the second-highest ever in ODIs and was brought about chiefly by the fastest ODI hundred by an Indian. So scornful was Virat Kohli’s unbeaten 52-ball 100 that it outshone Rohit Sharma (141*) and Shikhar Dhawan (95), reeling in victory in such haste so as to make a total hash of the competitive element.
India won by nine wickets, with an unimaginable 39 balls to spare, and this also made it the first time they’d successfully chased a total in excess of 300 against Australia. As was to be expected, it took a rank sub-continental batting pitch to edit a long history of failed pursuits. Dhawan provided the early impetus as the openers put on 176 in just over 26 overs. And Kohli ushered in victory with an equal measure of confidence and brutality, striking seven sixes and eight fours on the way.
Dhawan, when he had scored 42, was adjudicated ‘not out’ by the TV umpire on a close stumping call off Xavier Doherty, and he celebrated by slaughtering Mitchell Johnson and James Faulkner through the leg-side. The southpaw surged ahead after reaching his half-century, but fell five short of a ton when he nicked Faulkner to the wicketkeeper.
Kohli then took the game away from Australia. He smacked sixes off Clint McKay and Doherty, bringing up his fifty in 27 balls, and partnered Rohit for 186 runs in 17.2 overs – an association that took the wind out of the Aussie sails. That he was eclipsed by his more aggressive partners doesn’t imply that Rohit was a slouch in the middle and the Mumbai batsman's third ODI ton was reached at almost an equitable rate.
The spree of reworked records had begun in the first innings when George Bailey chose to bat. For the first time ever, the top five batsmen in an ODI innings scored half-centuries as Australia posted a massive 359/5. Aaron Finch (50) and Phil Hughes (83) provided the foundation, Shane Watson (56) tended to the middle, and skipper Bailey (92*, 50b) and Glenn Maxwell (53, 32b) looted 96 in just 51 deliveries to cap off a wonderful outing.
India’s bowling let them down yet again as they conceded 132 in the last 10 overs . The spinners R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Yuvraj leaked 157 in 22 overs combined and were intent on bowling half-trackers. The medium-pacers found only full-tosses in their search for yorkers. A grand total of 12 sixes and 34 boundaries studded the Australian innings. India paid them back with 11 and 39 respectively. Do the math!