Dhoni classic studs Indian victory

Skippers fifth one-day hundred helps men in blue outclass Australia by 99 runs

Dhoni classic studs Indian victory

MS Dhoni executes a pull en route to his hundred against Australia in the second one-dayer at Nagpur on Wednesday. AFP

Adjudged the ICC ODI player of the year recently, man of the match Dhoni (124, 107b, 9x4, 3x6) authored his fifth one-day hundred that formed the back bone of India’s whopping total of 354 for seven in 50 overs in the second of the seven-match series here at VCA’s Jamtha stadium. The Indian skipper’s fifth ODI century took a while in coming -- his fourth ton was against Hong Kong in the Asia Cup in June, 2008 at Karachi -- but when it did come, the knock squeezed the life out of Australia. Chasing an improbable target to keep their lead intact in the series, Australian batsmen turned out to be as listless as their bowlers, managing 255 all out in 48.3 overs to suffer a heavy 99-run run defeat as India leveled the series 1-1. Ponting was lucky with the toss again and the 34-year-old might have hardly envisaged the events that unfolded after inviting India to bat first.

Once inserted, India’s task was cut out -- put up enough runs on the board for their bowlers to defend. But a total in excess of 350 might have been beyond even their wildest dreams. Confident in the knowledge that they had a huge total to defend, Indian bowlers made amends for their largesse in the previous match by putting up a much-improved performance. Praveen Kumar was impressive upfront removing Tim Paine and Ponting while Ravindra Jadeja picked up three for 35 to break the back of Australia’s middle order, a blow they couldn’t recover from. 

With paceman Brett Lee and all-rounder James Hopes out, Australia had a depleted attack. A doubtful starter for the second match, left-arm pacer Mitchell Johnson was included in the final 11, perhaps more out of desperation than any genuine conviction.

That, however, will take nothing away from India’s batting, sprinkled all along with innings of great substance. Sachin Tendulkar departed early, but Virender Sehwag (40, 31b, 6x4, 1x6), warmed up with an uppish cover-driven four off Ben Hilfenhaus, played an entertaining cameo that gave the kind of momentum India were looking for. Yuvraj Singh then sparkled for a while before Hlifenhaus induced a return catch from the left-hander.

Dhoni’s welcome to the crease by a buoyed Hilfenhaus was hardly the portent of things to come, hit on the back of his head by a well-directed bouncer. But that was the only glitch in an innings that was a lesson in the art of constructing an innings. Barring a forceful cut here and a drive there, there was nothing extravagant about Dhoni’s partnership with Gambhir (76, 80b, 6x4). They never let a loose delivery go unpunished, but their busy ways of collecting runs by nudges and pushes ensured that the run-rate never dipped below six which Sehwag and Yuvraj had provided. It was ironical that Gambhir had to get run out but his 119-run (113b) association with the skipper had put India firmly in the saddle.

Gambhir’s dismissal off the last ball of the 34th over meant Dhoni delayed the batting power play. The move allowed Suresh Raina (62, 50b, 6x4, 1x6) to settle down a bit before exploding in stunning fashion. Dhoni opted for the power play with the onset of 40th over and what followed was an absolute carnage. The next five overs produced 47 runs and Australia might have thought the worse was over. The field was spread now but the right-hander sent Shane Watson soaring over sightscreen to bring up his century in style. Raina too completed his half-century and the two raised 136 between them for the fifth wicket in just 94 balls as the last six overs leaked 69 runs beating the daylights out of Australia.

ScoreBoard

INDIA

Sehwag c Hilfenhaus b Johnson    40
(31b, 6x4, 1x6)
Tendulkar c White b Siddle    4
(8b, 1x4)
Gambhir (run out)    76
(80b, 6x4)
Yuvraj c & b Hilfenhaus    23
(24b, 2x4, 1x6)
Dhoni c Paine b Johnson    124
(107b, 9x4, 3x6)
Raina c Paine b Johnson    62
(50b, 6x4, 1x6)
Harbhajan (not out)    1
(1b)
Praveen (run out)    1
(1b)

Extras (B-1, LB-6, W-14, NB-2)    23

Total (for 7 wkts, 50 overs)    354
Fall of wickets: 1-21 (Tendulkar), 2-67 (Sehwag), 3-97 (Yuvraj), 4-216 (Gambhir), 5-352 (Dhoni), 6-353 (Raina), 7-354 (Praveen).  

Bowling: Hilfenhaus 10-0-83-1 (nb-1, w-4), Siddle 10-0-55-1 (w-3), Johnson 10-0-75-3 (nb-1, w-5), Hauritz 10-0-54-0, Voges 5-0-33-0, Watson 5-0-47-0. 

Runs during Power Play 1: 1-10 overs: 67/1; Power Play 2: 12-16 overs: 35/1; Power Play 3 (batting): 40-44: 47/0.

AUSTRALIA

Watson c Tendulkar b Ishant     19
(26b, 3x4)
Paine b Praveen    8
(14b, 1x4)
Ponting lbw Praveen    12
(16b, 2x4)
White c Raina b Harbhajan    23
(42b, 3x4)
Hussey b Jadeja    53
(58b, 6x4)
Voges b Jadeja    36
(44b, 1x4)
Marsh st Dhoni b Jadeja    21
Johnson b Nehra 21
(19b, 2x4, 1x6)
Hauritz (not out)    30
(32b, 3x4)
Siddle c Dhoni b Ishant    3
(5b)
Hilfenhaus (run out)    16
(12b, 2x4)

Extras (LB-5, W-8)    13

Total (all out, 48.3 overs)    255
Fall of wickets: 1-20 (Paine), 2-41 (Watson), 3-45 (Ponting), 4-93 (White), 5-140 (Hussey), 6-180 (Marsh), 7-194 (Voges), 8-223 (Johnson), 9-230 (Siddle).

Bowling: Praveen Kumar 8-137-2 (w-1), Ashish Nehra 7-0-40-1 (w-2), Ishant Sharma 8-0-34-2 (w-1), Harbhajan 10-0-62-1 (w-4), Yuvraj 8-0-39-0, Jadeja 6.3-0-35-3, Raina 1-0-3-0.

Runs during Power Play 1: 1-10 overs: 45/2; Power Play 2: 11-15: 23/1; Power Play 3 (batting): 35-39: 41/2.

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