Kohli blitz floors Aussies

Kohli blitz floors Aussies

Kohli blitz floors Aussies

In keeping with the trend of this series, the sixth one-dayer too witnessed a high-scoring game at the VCA Stadium here on Wednesday. And for the second time, India produced a miracle chase to win by six wickets and level the series 2-2, with one game left to play, at Bangalore on Saturday.

Put into bat, Australia made 350 for six with skipper George Bailey (156) and Shane Watson (102) making brisk hundreds, and India replied with 351 for four. Shikhar Dhawan (100), Rohit Sharma (79) and Virat Kohli, who made his 17th ODI hundred, an unbeaten 115, provided fuel to the hosts’ chase with brilliantly-paced knocks.

Once the Indians had to score seven runs per over to win, even their most ardent fans would have hesitated to place their money on them to pull off another heist within a fortnight. Indians made a steady start to their chase with the run-rate rarely moving above the six-run mark, and it wasn’t a pretty sight to see the asking rate going above eight runs.

Both Dhawan and Rohit, who made 178 for the opening wicket, went about their job as if they were trying to scale down 250 rather than 350. Dhawan also received two reprieves on 19 and 54 when Glenn Maxwell and Aaron Finch failed to hold on to catches within the circle.

The Delhi left-hander exploited them to the hilt, scoring his fourth one-day hundred. Rohit, at the other end, was more than happy to rotate the strike and remind occasionally of his big-hitting prowess like the two massive sixes off Maxwell in the 29th over.

Master orchestrator

The dismissals of Rohit and Dhawan once again pushed the asking rate above the eight-run mark but Kohli ensured that India would not be left with a steep mountain to climb. The Delhiite has become a master orchestrator of chase for some time now, and there was a situation for him to manage on the night.

He did that job in superb fashion, producing an innings in which aggression cordially shook hands with sagacity. Kohli unfurled those drives along the carpet through the cover region, swat-pull through mid-wicket, and a few smart taps behind the fine leg to amass his runs quickly yet without risks. The departures of Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh added a few strands of tension, but Kohli and skipper MS Dhoni, another icy figure during tough chases, ensured that India touched the tape.

The start of the match hardly gave any hint of the mayhem that would follow. In fact, the Indian bowlers were impressive; maintaining a good length in the initial part as Australia meandered to 83 for two in the 20th over, losing Finch and Phil Hughes on the way. 

The trouble for India started after that relatively sedate phase. Bailey and Watson opened their shoulders, and the Indians didn’t have much idea as how to stop the Aussie duo. Many Australian batsmen have come close to a hundred in this series, falling in the 90s. But Watson was determined to change that pattern, and three consecutive boundaries off pacer Mohammad Shami helped him cross the three-figure mark.

More importantly, Watson and Bailey added 168 runs for the third wicket in just 142 balls that gave the Australian innings momentum and direction. Just as their alliance began to swell into something even bigger, Shami managed to oust Watson – an in-cutter cleaning up his middle stump. But the dismissal of Watson didn’t bring any respite for Indians because Bailey took over the role of aggressor with ease, milking 120 off 80 balls with Adam Voges for the fifth wicket.

The Indian bowlers too helped him immensely in his cause by dropping the ball short, allowing the Tasmanian to employ the pull shot regularly. His first 50 came off in as many balls but his next 106 came in 65 balls as the Indians ran short of ideas in the slog overs. In all, Aussies added 261 runs in the last 28 overs at 9.32 to reach 350-mark for the second time in the series. But Indian batsmen were just too good on this night.

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