Rain has the say in Ranchi

Heavy downpour plays spoilsport after Australia rack up challenging 295

Rain has the say in Ranchi
For the first time in the series, Australia were restricted to a total less than 300 but the rains cried halt to India’s chase as the fourth match of the series was abandoned due to a water-clogged outfield.

India had gotten off to a brisk start – 27/0 in 4.1 overs in reply to Australia’s 295/8 – when the rain put a stop to the proceedings at 6.18 pm. After it showered for close to an hour, leaving the outfield with heavy underfoot conditions, umpires called off the play following an inspection at 8.35 pm. For the match to be completed, play had to resume at 9.10 pm to have a minimum of 20 overs. With this outcome, Australia go into the fifth match at Cuttack, with rain again looming large. Australia lead the series 2-1.

A dream spell by Mohammad Shami (3/42) and counter-attacking batting by skipper George Bailey (98, 94b, 7x4, 3x6) and Glenn Maxwell (92, 71b, 6x4, 5x6) marked the first session here at the JSCA stadium. 

One of cricket’s oldest adages – catches win matches -- appeared to have been lost on Indian fielders who showed the generosity of a millionaire while dropping as many as six catches of which at least four were eminently takeable.

Bailey offered a chance off the first ball he faced but Virat Kohli made a hash of it when the batsman got a healthy edge off Shami. He was dropped again on 35 off Vinay Kumar at short mid-wicket while umpire Vineet Kulkarni ruled out a strong lbw appeal by Suresh Raina when Bailey was batting on 64. It was perhaps a good day for Bailey to buy a lottery ticket for himself. Maxwell who no less fortunate either. Yuvraj Singh failed to latch on to a diving effort at point on 44 while Dhoni grassed one off Suresh Raina on 70.  
Before the two joined forces in the middle, Shami had left the visitors’ innings in tatters with top quality swing bowling. The Bengal paceman, bowling consistently in the range between late 130 and early 140 kph, cleaned up Australia’s top three in a probing first spell of 6-1-21-3. One of the main reasons for Australia’s 300-plus totals in the previous three matches has been the starts provided by their openers with the lowest being 68 in Mohali. On the day, though, Australia slid to 32/3 with Shami returning his best ODI figures.

The right-arm quick, one of the two replacements along with Jaydev Unadkat for Ishant Sharma and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, shaped one in as Aaron Finch had his furniture re-arranged. 

He then got one to kick up from length and an already-committed Phillip Hughes could only manage a healthy nick to Dhoni. Shami should have had Bailey off the very next ball but Kohli spilled that chance. The 23-year-old, however, struck again moving the ball into Shane Watson and hitting the off bail. With R Ashwin trapping Adam Voges early in his innings, Australia found themselves in a bother until the Bailey-Maxwell act hauled them back.

It was a golden chance for India to restrict the visitors to a sub-250 score but the 153-run association (off 136 balls) between Bailey and Maxwell took the wind out of India’s sails. The two right-handers took the attack to home camp. 

The two never allowed the spinners to settle down and they were more than happy to send the long hops to the fence. After Shami’s burst, the Indian attack failed to sustain the pressure.   

Cruising at 224 for four and with 13 overs still to go, Australia looked assured of another mammoth total but Vinay accounted for both the set batsmen during the batting Power Play , forcing the visitors to settle for less than what they might have bargained for. 

The dismissal of Bailey and Maxwell in quick succession in their 90s helped India shackle their lower order. Only 57 runs came off the last 10 overs of which nine were bowled by spinners.

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