Aussies post second victory

Aussies post second victory

Opener Finch slams 96 as Rohit Sharma's fine century goes in vain

Aussies post second victory

A match that was clearly headed Australia’s way appeared to have turned on its head as India came up with a spirited bowling display towards the end but the hosts held their nerve in a tense chase to register a four-wicket win, their second in as many matches.

India have to blame a loss in momentum while batting and the total lack of bite in their bowling at the start of the chase for their defeat. Man of the match Mitchell Starc (6/43), who now has 10 wickets from two matches, stopped India from posting a stiffer target with four wickets in his last four overs that eventually proved the difference between the two sides here at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday.

Having posted a competitive 267 for eight after electing to bat first on a good batting surface, India couldn’t prevent Australia from reaching 269 for six in 49 overs. India had recovered well to build a healthy total through Rohit Sharma’s sparkling 138 (139b, 9x4, 3x6) and his innings-reviving 124-run stand with Suresh Raina (51, 63b, 6x4) for the fourth wicket after the visitors were left reeling at 59 for three by the 13th over.

Australia, who made one change to their playing 11, omitted left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty and handed a debut to 21-year-old Gurinder Sandhu making him the first player of Indian origin to represent Australia at the senior level.

India did well to remove the dangerous David Warner, who unnecessarily got involved in a verbal spat with Rohit for an overthrown run, early in the innings but his opening partner Aaron Finch shed his indifferent form to score 96 (127b, 5x4, 2x6) that neutralised Rohit’s sixth ODI hundred.

 Finch, who didn’t have a single half-century in his last seven innings which included six Big Bash matches, was involved in three fifty-plus associations through his innings that never allowed India exert any pressure for most part of the innings. With Warner he raised 51 runs for the first wicket while 64 runs came for the second with Shane Watson (41, 39b, 5x4, 1x6). His 101-run stand with Smith (47, 52b, 6x4), however, was the clincher.

There appeared to be one last twist in the tale when Australia, cruising at 216 for two, lost three wickets in the space of 14 runs but their deep batting line-up and the insignificance of the target in front of them by that time meant there was no change to the course of the game. With 37 required from 38 balls, Glenn Maxwell struck R Ashwin for a six and a four off successive balls, calming the Australian nerves. The right-hander fell soon to reignite the interest but James Faulkner, who has made it a habit to remain unbeaten at the end of chases, and Brad Haddin took 17 from the penultimate over of the innings by Bhuvneshwar Kumar to seal the deal.     

Rohit’s good run against Australia continued as the right-hander followed up his double ton (209) against them in Bangalore in 2013 with his latest effort eclipsing Ricky Ponting’s record of individual best (115) score for a batsman between India and Australia at the MCG. Opening the innings, the 26-year-old was both the anchor and enforcer as India had to go in the defensive after Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane and Virat Kohli departed without contributing anything significant.

Rohit and Raina then did the recovery act to provide India the right platform to accelerate but the latter’s dismissal by Starc in the first batting power play over arrested the momentum. The five-over power play yielded just 19 runs. But so long as MS Dhoni was in the middle India had little reason to worry about their dipping run-rate.

A master-stroke by George Bailey, however, did India in. Starc was given an extended spell and the right-arm quick did the damage by accounting for Dhoni and Axar Patel in the same over. He came to back to bowl the 49th over and sent back Rohit and Bhuvneshwar off successive balls to restrict India to what eventually proved to be an inadequate total.


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