If anyone out there thinks that Dhoni has lost his sheen past the World Cup, think again ! The ice cool captain of India just reminded all of us again of his match winning capabilities as he pulled off a spectacular win at Adelaide to register India’s second consecutive win of the series. It was after Gautam Gambhir engineered India’s chase, scoring a matured 92 under pressure. Australia was again involved in a close finish, after their win against Sri Lanka, but this time ended up on the losing side. This win for sure would give loads of experience, as this is India’s first win over Australia at Adelaide. Also, this happens to be India’s highest chase ever on Australian soil.
One was reminded of India’s performance during the World Cup or before it, after seeing this match. Indian bowlers did a fair job as India restricted Australia to 269/8. India pulled things back considerably in the end overs to keep the Australian target well within the reach. Australia looked all set to reach the 300 run-mark after debutant Peter Forrest scored an impressive 66. David Hussey made sure his brother Mike Hussey wasn’t missed, as he backed himself to score to whirlwind 72 of just 76 balls. India kept chipping wickets at regular intervals, and were always in the match. Michael Clarke (38) once again showed signs of his supreme form, but missed out on a big one this time. Christian played his role to perfection, as he guided the end of Australian innings with a 36 ball 39. It was the partnership between Peter Forrest and David Hussey of 98 runs which set up the Australian total of 269. Forrest played excellently for his maiden match, as he kept striking boundaries at regular intervals to accompany his two sixes. After his departure, David Hussey carried the Australian attack forward, as he and Dan Christian kept scoring at a good rate. Indian bowlers, though, came back very strongly in the last 15 overs as Aussie batsmen could manage only 3 boundaries. Which looked like a 300+ total was just restricted to 269 and it was solely because of a very disciplined Indian bowling. Zaheer Khan (46/1) and Umesh Yadav (49/2) were the pick of bowlers, as both varied their pace cunningly to leave the Australian batsmen clueless.
India had a mountain to climb when they came out to bat, but having done this many a times recently, Gambhir and Sehwag looked confident from the start. Sehwag kept flashing at the ball on a number of occasions, as India ensured they got a quick start. Gambhir, meanwhile, on the other hand was playing a very positive innings as he kept driving the ball in cover region to get himself a couple of boundaries. India was off the blocks and had got their first 50 run opening stand of the tour when Sehwag (20) played a nothing stroke on the first delivery of Clint McKay to lose his wicket in a rather absurd way. He top edged a wayward leg side wide delivery to hold out at point, as he had done earlier in the tests too. Virat Kohli struggled to find the gaps from the start of his innings, and his frustration got the better of him, as he skied a McKay delivery to hold out at deep extra cover on 18. Rohit Sharma got along with a well-set Gambhir as India looked on course of a successful run chase. Both were playing shots all round the ground, as the pressure was certainly on the Aussies. India were in cruise-control when Rohit Sharma (33) once again threw away his wicket while attempting to clear mid-on to get a boundary. It was a highly immature shot, given the fact that India were in control of the match. Gambhir went soon, as he was trapped lbw while trying to work the ball on the on-side, to end a great innings of 92.
With two new batsmen at the crease, Australia had the edge on India. Raina and Dhoni (in particular), were very slow to start off, as the required run-rate climbed up to 7.5 runs/over. Raina started to play the big shots but Dhoni was still bogged down at the other end, scoring at a strike-rate of nearly 50. Things were getting difficult for India as even Raina (38) got bowled in his attempt to hit Xavier Doherty out of the park. Jadeja (12) couldn’t do much either as he got caught on boundary trying to score a six.
India needed 13 runs of the last over, with Ashwin on strike. Dhoni was looking far from his best, and it appeared that India left a bit too much for the end. Australia were on course to win yet another tight contest. Ashwin failed to score a run of first ball, but got Dhoni on strike with the second ball. India desperately needed some magic from their leader to manage a win here. And ‘Cometh the hour, Cometh the man’, as Dhoni sent the ball deep into the stands to score his only boundary of the match. It was a humongous hit, measuring 112 meters on the scale. The ‘helicopter’ shot had come to the rescue as India finished off the match in 2 more balls with Dhoni remaining not-out on 44. Dhoni averages a staggering 104.89 in second inning victories, as this innings just justified the fact. It was an amazingly timed innings and now India will look to continue their newly found winning rhythm as they take on Sri Lanka in a couple of days.
Brief Score : AUSTRALIA in 50 overs (D. Hussey 72, Forrest 66 ; Umesh Yadav 49/2)
LOST TO INDIA : 270/6 in 49.6 overs ( Gambhir 92, Dhoni 44* ; McKay 53/3) BY 4 WICKETS
Man of the Match : Gautam Gambhir