Virat Kohli's 104 and Mahendra Singh Dhoni's unbeaten 55 from 54 balls guided India to a six-wicket win over Australia in the second One-Day International, levelling the three-match series at 1-1. Kohli posted his 39th ODI century, his 24th and sixth against Australia, to lead a perfectly measured run chase which saw India surpass Australia’s total of 298-9 with four balls to spare.
He put on 82 in 13 overs in a critical partnership for the fourth wicket with Dhoni, which steered India at a cautious pace towards a winning total but he was out at a crucial moment, with his team still needing 57 from 38 balls. Former captain Dhoni played a subdued role in support of his successor Kohli as two players with the joint experience of more than 550 ODIs steadily chipped away at Australia’s total. With Kohli’s untimely dismissal, Dhoni took up the chase and carried India to a victory which will see the series decided on Friday in the third ODI at Melbourne.
India came to the final over needing seven runs to win and Dhoni smashed the first ball over the long straight boundaries at the Adelaide Oval for a six which tied the scores, then clinched the win with a single from the next ball. India were ahead of Australia’s scoring rate for much of their innings, though things got a bit slow during the partnership between Kohli and Dhoni. Australia were successful in arresting the flow of boundaries and Dhoni hadn’t hit a four or six in the time he batted with Kohli, preferring to take singles to yield the strike to the younger man.
Kohli evinced every confidence in his ability to manage the chase and he seemed unconcerned when the run rate required crept up above eight, though with plenty of overs at India’s disposal. He had just begun to step up his scoring rate, taking 13 runs from an over from Jason Behrendorff when he was out. At that point the match was still in the balance and it was clear Dhoni had to find a way to beat Australia’s field settings.
He announced his intention to do so with a six from the last over bowled by off-spinner Nathan Lyon, which signalled that the chase was in good hands. But Dhoni, now 37, looked close to exhaustion at times late in his innings, slumping to the ground and receiving treatment from the India team physio with two overs remaining and India needing 16 runs. Dhoni was fortunate to have the heady support of Dinesh Karthik, who came to the crease at a difficult moment when Kohli had just fallen. He scored 25 from just 14 balls to ensure India got home.
Earlier, Shaun Marsh produced a magnificent innings of 131 from 123 balls to guide Australia as they batted after winning the toss. He batted through the hottest part of the day, as temperatures soared past 40 degrees. He built Australia’s total through moderate partnerships with Usman Khawaja (21), Peter Handscomb (20) and Marcus Stoinis (29) before launching a final assault on India’s bowling with Glenn Maxwell, who hit 48 from 37 balls.