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Rohit Sharma began the chase with a four.
Did look like a good omen. For the right-hander and opening partner Shikhar Dhawan were going great guns, summoning fours and boundaries at will. Glenn Maxwell did them a favour by dropping Dhawan on 19. They cashed in, adding 178 runs for the first wicket in a jiffy. Aaron Finch then sent down a half-tracker that, Sharma miscued, with the ball in James Faulkner’s hands in deep midwicket.
A minor detail. They were chasing 351 for a win.
No butterflies. As Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli continued the onslaught, as George Bailey realized that his opponents were staging a counter attack. Dhawan (102) brought up his hundred, celebrating with a fist pump that, after dropping his bat. One ball later, he exposed his stumps, in an attempt to clear the fine leg fence. India 234/2.
Panic is a word that doesn’t exist in Kohli’s dictionary, as he picked the gaps with ease, with the shots flowing all around the park. The half-century came off the 31st delivery he was facing, with Xavier Doherty and Mitchell Johnson bearing the brunt. The gods probably felt that life wasn’t fair, and they allowed Johnson to provide the twist in the tale.
Short ball to Suresh Raina. The batsman brought out the pull, missed, as the ball ended up in Brad Haddin’s hands. He had to walk off as umpire Nigel Llong gave him out. Two balls later, the ball managed to sneak through Yuvraj Singh’s defence as Australia came back into the game. India 290/4. 60 runs needed from 42.
MS Dhoni (25) joined Man-of-the-Match Kohli (115) and the two soaked in the pressure, without showing it. Kohli went after Faulkner to bring up his 17th hundred off 61 balls, third-fastest by an Indian. He kept his foot on the gas, turning the heat on Shane Watson in the penultimate over. Needing six from the final six deliveries, Dhoni provided the finish touch as India won by six wickets with three balls remaining.
It didn’t start that way at the VCA stadium in Nagpur.
Earlier, tons from George Bailey (156) and Shane Watson (102) powered Australia to an imposing total of 350/6, their fourth 300+ score in the series. After being put into bat by the hosts, the duo got together, after openers Phillip Hughes (13) and Aaron Finch (20), with the score yet to cross the first milestone of 50.
Then came the no ball.
Watson hit a delivery from Ravindra Jadeja, a tame shot that comfortably ended up in Rohit Sharma’s hands. The batsman walked off, only to be recalled by the umpire after it came to light that Jadeja had bowled a front foot no ball. To rub salt onto his wounds, Bailey was caught off the free hit. After a brief lull, in-form Bailey and Watson decided to accelerate. To be fair to them, the Indian bowlers helped them free their arms.
The spinners were not spared, as the sixes began to rain, nine of them. Amit Mishra was offering flight, but was very slow in the air. Bailey used his feet, while Watson swung hard, as Dhoni started talking to his bowlers. Short deliveries didn’t help either, as Bailey managed to pull off the pull stroke with ease. The Indian skipper understood what was happening and turned to Mohammad Shami for over no.34. Powerplay time for Australia.
Shane Watson creamed three fours to bring up a century. Then came the dreaded gap between bat and pad, and the right-hander had to walk back after making 102. Glenn Maxwell’s (9) dismissal made no difference to Captain Bailey as he continued to punish the bowling. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, paid the price, getting smashed for three fours in over no.38.
He soon brought up his century, and that gave him the license to cut loose. With Adam Voges (44) for company, Bailey helped Australia cross 300, and hung around till the final over, before being dismissed by Ravindra Jadeja. The left-armer provided another déjà vu moment, having Voges caught and bowled. Off another no ball.
Jadeja managed to pick up Mitchell Johnson, off a subsequent delivery. But there was nothing to celebrate for they had allowed the Kangaroos to score 350/6.
First Jaipur. Now Nagpur. 701 runs scored. Four centuries. The second successful 350+ run chase for India in the series. The batsmen will rule thanks to the new rules.
God save the bowler. Please.
2-2. What will happen in Bangalore?