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HindustanTimes Tue,23 Sep 2014

Cricket

Mohali ODI: skipper builds, Ishant lets it slip
Sanjjeev K Samyal, Hindustan Times
Mohali, October 19, 2013
First Published: 13:59 IST(19/10/2013)
Last Updated: 10:12 IST(20/10/2013)

There is something about these two evenly-matched teams that has provided for enthralling cricket in the series.

 
The ability to wriggle out of any situation came to the fore for the second time in two games as Australia came back from the dead to script a stunning four-wicket victory at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium on Saturday.

James Faulkner was the unlikely hero, smashing an unbeaten 64 off 29 balls during his match-winning seventh-wicket partnership of 91 with Adam Voges (76 not out) off 8.2 overs in their chase of 304.

At the start of the last five overs, Australia looked down and out with the equation reading 52 runs off 24 balls. A good 47th over from R Ashwin made it tougher with 44 needed off 18, and the required run rate jumping to 14.66.

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However, to the disbelief of the home crowd, Faulkner tore into Ishant Sharma to plunder 30 runs from the 48th over, smashing four sixes, a four and double. It was a formality from there on, and they were home with three balls to spare.

Full of drama
It was a fitting end to a thrilling contest. There was enough drama in the India innings too. Fortunes swung dramatically with Australia starting on top and the hosts staging a remarkable fightback.

The tempo was set by India skipper MS Dhoni. His unbeaten 139 (121 balls) was the first one-day century by an Indian here. But it was not just about numbers. Facing a hostile attack on a lively track, Dhoni battled tremendous pressure and a sore ankle to deliver a master-class.

Preserving wickets
It was not a knock where he came in and started blazing away. His batsmen had been rattled by pace and bounce, and the first concern was to preserve his wicket.

At 156 for six, playing out the overs was a challenge. For someone who is known to deal in boundaries, the Ranchi man showed remarkable restraint.

There was a spell of eight overs (14.4 to 23.4 overs), when he was batting with Virat Kohli (68), and no boundary was hit.

The long wait
Dhoni waited till the end to shift into fourth gear. He plundered 21 runs in the final over, including a spectacular six with his trademark helicopter shot.

Dhoni’s heroics and Virat’s solid effort though did not mask the poor display of the others.

The technique of Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh was cruelly exposed by Mitchell Johnson. Both fell to their weaknesses – Raina to the short ball and the other playing at a short-of-length ball away from the body.

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