Australia chase down 359 to win fourth ODI

Wednesday 13th March 2019 03:03 EDT

The unfancied Australian team chased down the mammoth 359 runs with five wickets in hand and won the fifth one-day international in Mohali on Sunday to level the five match series 2-2. Earlier, India's openers finally found form and Shikhar Dhawan came up with a scintillating ton. The dew factor loomed large, with India’s butter-fingered fielders struggling to hold on to crucial catches, their spinners being rendered ineffective for long periods, their wicketkeeper missing a crucial stumping and towels being in heavy use after the 35-over mark, when the PCA stadium could feel the night chill.

Australia were well served by two extraordinary innings, by Ashton Turner (84 not out off 43) and Peter Handscomb (117 off 105), and a 192-run third-wicket stand between Handscomb and Khawaja, but this match may well be remembered for India’s bungling in assessing the Mohali dew. “We had it in control for about 35 overs,” said Shikhar Dhawan, “We expected dew in the last game but it did not happen. We didn’t expect dew and it came heavily. You could play any shot on that surface once the dew came in. Because of dew the ball wasn’t gripping. If there was no dew, it wouldn’t have been possible (for Turner) to play those shots. Turner took the game away from us.”

There were, however, two other crucial factors behind India’s feat that cannot be explained away by the dew. One was the absence of MS Dhoni behind the stumps and some horrid goof-ups by his replacement Rishabh Pant, whose performance served as a telling reminder of how quietly effective Dhoni has been in reading this new crop of Indian spinners. By the time Pant had botched up a stumping and a runout chance, a section of the crowd was angrily asking to “bring back Dhoni”.

The second non-dew factor was another stutter in the middle after the 191-run opening stand. India scored 91 in the last 10 overs, losing six wickets, and neither KL Rahul, who replaced Ambati Rayudu and got a chance to bat at No. 3, nor Pant could build their innings. On such a benign surface, this proved crucial. Incidentally, this was the same pitch on which India had put on 392/4 against Sri Lanka in the last game here, in Dec 2017.

If Rohit Sharma had been the aggressor that time, this day belonged to his opening partner Dhawan, desperately in need of runs with the World Cup looming. Dhawan exploited the friendly nature of the surface with an enchanting 143 (115 balls) and added a Mohali record 193 with Rohit (95). The sheer impact of their performance served as timely reminder of why Kohli has invested heavily in this pair, now India’s second most prolific ODI opening combo of all time, behind just Tendulkar and Ganguly. As it turned out, it was the only bright spot for India on the day, keeping the series alive till the last game in Delhi on Wednesday.

Australia beat India by 33 runs in third ODI

Australia beat India by 32 runs in the third ODI by scoring 313 for five in 50 overs and bowled out India for 281 runs in 48.2 overs. Virat Kohli's 123 went in vain as India could not manage to win the game. After beating Australia in the first two games of the five-match ODI series, Kohli would wanted to pocket the series by winning the third match at Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s home ground in Ranchi. Aussie captain Aaron Finch will be happy that his side is alive in the series, which is being seen as one last chance for both sides to set up their team line up ahead of the crucial ICC World Cup 2019.

Team India won the last two ODIs by six wickets and eight runs respectively. The wins have boosted the team's confidence after losing the recently concluded T20 series against Aussies. India's bowling unit looked strong in both games. In batting department, while skipper Kohli showed his class once again with 40th ODI hundred, other batsmen also need to pull up their socks further and play to their potential. As far as bowling is concerned Kohli would be hoping Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Kuldeep Yadav come good yet again and part timers Kedar Jadhav and Vijay Shankar to chip in with a few good overs too.

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