Indian batsman Virat Kohli celebrates after winning the 6th ODI cricket match against Australia in Nagpur. (PTI Photo)
MS Dhoni often has a grouse that his team is not given favourable conditions while playing at home. He may have a valid argument after how the Australia pacers exploited the Mohali and Pune wickets. The India captain though had no reason for complain at the Vidarbha Cricket Association on Wednesday.
With the Men in Blue feeling the heat in the ODI series, the VCA was generous enough to roll out a wicket suited to the home team's strengths while ensuring it negated Australia's main weapon - pace.
As the surface played true to its nature, India bounced back to level the series 2-2. The Bangalore game on Saturday now becomes the decider.
At the end of the game, the Australians were left with a feeling of déjà vu. The conditions were similar to Jaipur and the script turned out to be the same as the hosts out-batted the Australians, who for the second time in the series were unable to defend a 350-plus target.
The protagonists were the same too with Rohit Sharma (79), Shikhar Dhawan (100) and Virat Kohli (115 not out) playing the main roles.
At the Sawai Mansingh Stadium, Virat had come in with the score at 176 for one. Here, he came in at 178 for one.
When he started with his trademark off-drive, the alarm bells must have been ringing for the Kangaroos.
It was a sign that there would be no margin of error against the batsman and he treated the sellout crowd with some scintillating strokes.
Virat was a little less brutal than Jaipur, for he didn't deal much in sixes and took 10 more balls to reach his hundred (61 balls, 16 fours and a six), however, the quality of batting was breathtaking.
The drives were flowing against balls that were fuller, the wristwork was dazzling while putting away anything on the leg and the balance while executing his strokes was a joy to watch.
Virat raced to his fifty in 31 balls, and when Mitchell Johnson had his tail up with two quick strikes in the final stages, Virat wrested the psychological edge with a nonchalant on-the-up strike in the 47th over.
The stage for his heroics was set by Shikhar and Rohit. The two ensured India were off to a solid start and neutralised the threat posed by Johnson.
While Indian fans would be celebrating, the series-leveling win was achieved at the cost of the bowlers, who suffered like in Jaipur.
First, the India bowlers were pummeled after Dhoni won the toss and fielded.
Ashwin & Co's only solace was to see their batsmen avenge their humiliation by meting out fiercer punishment.Scorecard