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Young guns go boom, boom

Young Virat Kohli overcame a bout of cramps to make a career-best 118 as India posted a thrilling five-wicket win over Australia in the second one-day international, reports Anand Vasu. Scorecard

cricket Updated: Oct 21, 2010 00:02 IST
Anand Vasu
Anand Vasu
Hindustan Times
Australia

On a day when six batsmen crossed the half-century mark, one player battled through multiple barriers to take his team to an important win. Virat Kohli, first overcame the challenge of being parachuted into the team, thanks to several players being rested, and then gritted his teeth through severe pain to score a century that underscored his position as India's premier reserve batsman for the 50-over game.

A five-wicket win for India meant that Australia's winless run on this tour stretched beyond a month.

Set 290 to win, India were up against themselves as much as the opposition. In oppressively humid conditions, hitting boundaries rather than running ones and twos was the order of the day, and India's batsmen traditionally favour this approach.

Shikhar Dhawan waited 72 domestic 50-over matches before getting an India game, and before he could even absorb the feeling of batting in front of 28,000, he was back in the pavilion, having played all round a straight ball from Clint McKay.

Good starts are almost essential to chasing big totals, and M Vijay, after crafting a couple of pleasing cover-drives, set the team back, opening the face of his bat and running the ball into the keeper's gloves.

At 35 for 2 India were in prime position to fluff their lines, but Kohli and Yuvraj Singh had other ideas.

Kohli, hitting the ball as well as he has while in an India shirt, provided the momentum even as Yuvraj took his time to get a good measure of both the pitch and the opposition bowling.

A relatively inexperienced Australian attack tried various things, focussing on changes of pace and variations of angle, but Yuvraj was up to the task, driving authoritatively, but well within himself.

Kohli was the dominant half of the partnership, and he repeatedly found the cover fence, bisecting the field when men were in position and taking the aerial route where necessary.

Yuvraj (58) and Kohli had added 137 for the third wicket, and put India well on course when McKay added a third wicket to his kitty, a slower ball delivered with a legbreak action beating Yuvraj's stroke to crash into off stump. Kohli, who had Dhawan running for him by this stage, repeatedly clutched his left hamstring, wincing in pain whenever he was stretched in the act of playing a shot.

The pain, though, was considerably eased by a match-winning century that bettered Kohli's previous efforts of 102* and 107. Even when Kohli (118) holed out to long-on, and Mahendra Singh Dhoni was castled for a duck, India were in control. Suresh Raina applied the finishing touches with an unbeaten 71, but the chase belonged to Kohli.

In the first half, it was Michael Clarke who held the game together, overcoming a shaky start to score his fifth ODI century. Clarke's 111, certainly not his prettiest innings, was a calculated effort where all risks were avoided and bad balls were ruthlessly put away. But, just when it appeared that Australia would pull up short despite Clarke, Cameron White exploded in dramatic fashion. Clattering six sixes and four fours in just the last five overs, where he scored 64 of his 89 runs, White took Australia's score from being merely competitive to good. On the day, though, it was not good enough.