50 overs India 6 for 295 (Kohli 117, S Dhawan 68, Rahane 50, Hastings 4-58) v Australia
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Virat Kohli’s 117 was the key for India © Getty Images
In Perth 309 was insufficient, and in Brisbane 308 was not enough. What can India’s bowlers do to defend 295 at the MCG? That is the task facing them to keep the series alive after a century from Virat Kohli and fifties to Shikhar Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane set up another near run-a-ball chase for Australia. This time, Steven Smith had won the toss and sent India in, keen not to change Australia’s winning chasing formula.
The early loss of Rohit Sharma, who had scored hundreds at both the WACA and the Gabba, perked the Australians up, but Kohli played the anchor role this time, his 117 from 117 deliveries the key for India. Rohit’s tons had been made at similar speed in the first two games and it remains to be seen whether India have again let themselves down with their scoring rate. This time 88 runs came from their last ten overs, fewer than in Perth, but more than in Brisbane.
Kohli worked hard during his 119-run partnership with Dhawan and his 109-run stand with Rahane. Only 40 of Kohli’s runs came in boundaries, seven fours and two sixes, and he was constantly taking off for singles to rotate the strike and ensure things did not stagnate. His fifty came from 51 deliveries and his century from 105, and when he brought it up he leapt in celebration: it was his first ODI hundred against Australia in Australia.
Kohli fell in the 47th over when he drove a John Hastings slower ball straight to cover, and Hastings was again an important man for Australia in the field. He finished with a career-best 4 for 58, his variations ensuring the India batsmen did not settle during his spells. MS Dhoni slapped a quick 23 from nine balls in the dying stages but also fell to Hastings, pulling a 140kph bouncer to deep midwicket.
Hastings had also got rid of Rahane for 50 from 55 deliveries, brilliantly caught on the deep midwicket boundary by a combination of Smith and Glenn Maxwell. Rahane pulled a short ball and Smith hared around the boundary to make the catch but felt his momentum carrying him over, and threw the ball back inside play for Maxwell to complete the catch. That was one of four wickets in the final six overs that hurt India’s push to the line.
Debutant Gurkeerat Singh was bowled for 8 by a James Faulkner slower ball, and it was left to fellow debutant Rishi Dhawan to steer the innings home along with Ravindra Jadeja. Again the Australian bowlers with variations were most effective, although new-ball man Kane Richardson was tight and picked up 1 for 48 from his ten. Scott Boland again struggled to contain, and leaked 63 from nine.
The innings had started with Rohit at the crease fresh from two consecutive ODI hundreds, but this time he failed to reach double figures let alone triple. In the fifth over, Rohit drove at a Kane Richardson delivery and edged behind to Matthew Wade, to leave India at 1 for 15. But any hopes Australia had of restricting India through top-order wickets were scuppered by Kohli and Dhawan.
In both of the previous ODIs Dhawan had fallen in single figures but here he began to find his touch and was especially powerful through the leg side. A straight drive for four off Hastings in the second over of the match was the nearest Dhawan came to scoring an off-side boundary, but he struck nine fours in all and brought up his fifty from his 76th delivery, one ball after Kohli raised his half-century.
But, seemingly aware that India needed to lift their tempo to avoid the kind of stalling that occurred in Perth and Brisbane, Dhawan took it upon himself up the ante. He scooped a boundary over the head of wicketkeeper Matthew Wade off Hastings but next ball he again moved into position for a premeditated shot through the on side, and lost his leg stump, bowled for 68 off 91 deliveries.
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo