Gambhir, Dhoni clinch it for India

Australian batsmen fail to prosper at the finish as visitors notch four-wicket win

Gambhir, Dhoni clinch it for India

Mahendra Singh Dhoni reserved his best for the last over.

Till then struggling massively to time the ball, the skipper struck a monstrous 112-metre six off Clint McKay off the third ball of the final over to all but seal a four-wicket Indian victory here on Sunday.

After restricting Australia to a manageable 269 for eight on a flat surface, India were well on course for an easy win at 166 for two in the 33rd over, and Gautam Gambhir (92, 111b, 7x4) all set to reach a hundred after a considerable hiatus.

But the dismissal of Rohit Sharma, who milked 76 runs for the third wicket with Gambhir, brought a twist to the tale, and Indians suddenly seemed to have forgotten the run-making ways. Rohit holed out in the deep to Mitchell Starc off Ryan Harris, and Gambhir was adjudged leg before to McKay.

Sensing the apprehension, Australian skipper Michael Clarke brought in Xavier Doherty, and the left-arm spinner tied down the Indians from the 41st over, bowling a low trajectory to deny them a chance to free their arms. In his final five overs, Doherty conceded only 29 runs and jettisoned Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja, his effort playing a huge role in extending the match to the last over, adding a touch of drama.

When the final over began India needed 13 runs, and Dhoni, who also shared a 61-run fifth-wicket partnership with Raina, took centre stage after Ashwin scampered for a single off the second ball. The Jharkhandi then put India firmly on course for a win with that mighty six over long on off the third ball, and then took three runs apiece in the next two deliveries to take India home.

Dhoni might have applied the finishing touches but Gambhir’s contribution in this win was crucial. The left-hander had been struggling big time for runs on this tour, and he did a huge favour to himself by notching up a fluent knock. The Delhi left-hander was in his elements right from the beginning, looking comfortable against both pacers and spinners, and the Australian fielding too began to falter as Gambhir showed great dexterity in running between the wickets.

He worked the short-pitched balls off the hips to the on-side, and used his feet well against the spinners. For the first time in the series, the Gambhir-Virender Sehwag pair looked comfortable in the middle, and it resulted in a 52-run opening wicket partnership that also set the tone for the rest of the chase. 

Earlier, Australia squandered a great position to end up with a sub-par score. The hosts promoted Ricky Ponting, who has been struggling for runs in this series, to partner David Warner at the pole position, but the move didn’t fetch the desired results.

Ponting’s drive away from the body off R Vinay Kumar ended in the hands of Kohli at point. After the Tasmanian’s dismissal, Warner and Clarke added 39 for the second wicket, but the former fell victim to Rohit’s moment of brilliance on the field.

Clarke played a horrendous shot to drag Umesh Yadav delivery back on to his stumps. But David Hussey and Peter Forrest stemmed the rot adding 98 runs for an entertaining fourth wicket stand. Debutant Forrest, who came in for Michael Hussey, was impressive in particular, tackling the Indian bowlers with the confidence of a veteran batsman.

Indians also looked jaded during this period, and Zaheer Khan lifted the spirit of the side, giving marching orders to Forrest, whose ill-timed pull ended in the hands of Vinay Kumar at deep. The dismissal of Hussey put the life completely back into the visitors, and from then on Indian fielders and bowlers worked like well-oiled machines as the Aussies could manage only 57 runs in the last 10 overs, an effort that had a significant say in the end.

Score Board

AUSTRALIA

Warner (run out)    18
(24b, 2x4)
Ponting c Kohli b Vinay    6
(14b, 1x4)
Clarke b Yadav    38
(43b, 5x4)
Forrest c Vinay b Yadav    66
(83b, 5x4, 2x6)
D Hussey c Sehwag b Zaheer    72
(76b, 5x4)
Christian (run out)    39
(36b, 2x4)
Wade b Vinay    16
(18b, 1x4)
Harris (not out)    2
(4b)
McKay (run out)    3
(3b)
Extras (LB-4, W-4, NB-1)    9
Total (for 8 wkts, 50 overs)    269
Fall of wickets: 1-14 (Ponting), 2-53 (Warner), 3-81 (Clarke), 4-179 (Forrest), 5-235 (Hussey), 6-254 (Christian), 7-265 (Wade), 8-269 (McKay).
Bowling: Zaheer 10-0-46-1, Vinay 10-1-58-2 (nb-2, w-2), Jadeja 10-0-50-0 (w-1), Yadav 10-1-49-2 (w-1), Ashwin 8-0-47-0, Rohit 2-0-15-0.
Scoring pattern: 5 overs: 27/1, 10: 53/2, 20: 95/3, 30: 145/5, 40: 212/4; End of Innings: 269/8 in 50 overs.
Power Play 1: 1-10: 53/2; Power Play 2: 16-20: 27/1; Power Play 3: 36-40: 37/1.


INDIA

Gambhir lbw McKay    92
(111b, 7x4)
Sehwag c Hussey b McKay    20
(21b, 3x4)
Kohli c Forrest b McKay    18
(18b, 1x4)
Rohit c Starc b Harris    33
(44b, 1x4, 1x6)
Raina b Doherty    38
(30b, 3x4, 1x6)
Dhoni (not out)    44
(58b, 1x6)
Jadeja c Ponting b Doherty    12
(8b)
Ashwin (not out)    1
(2b)
Extras (LB-2, W-9, NB-1)    12
Total (for 6 wkts, 49.4 overs)    270
Fall of wickets: 1-52 (Sehwag), 2-90 (Kohli), 3-166 (Rohit), 4-178 (Gambhir), 5-239 (Raina), 6-257 (Jadeja).
Bowling: Harris 10-0-57-1 (w-1), Starc 8-0-49-0 (w-2), McKay 9.4-1-53-3 (nb-1, w-4), Christian 10-0-45-0, Hussey 3-0-13-0, Doherty 9-0-51-2 (w-2).
Scoring pattern: 5 overs: 26/0, 10: 52/1, 20: 99/2, 30: 155/2, 40: 197/4, End of Innings: 270/6 in 49.4 overs.
Power Play 1: 1-10: 52/1; Power Play 2: 16-20: 25/1; Power Play 3: 35-40: 18/0.

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