Australia pulled off a remarkable heist to beat India by four wickets in a run-filled and entertaining fourth One-Day International (ODI) at the PCA Stadium here. Chasing 359, Australia romped home in the 48th over, Ashton Turner (84 n.o., 43b, 5X4, 6X6) providing the finishing touches with his fireworks with the bat after Usman Khawaja (91, 99b, 7X4) and Peter Handscomb (117, 105b, 8X4, 3X6) laid the foundation with a 192-run partnership for the third wicket. Australia chased down the target with 13 balls and 359 is the highest target it has successfully chased, while it's also the highest successful chase by a visiting team on Indian soil.
Handscomb scored his maiden ODI century – a patient, responsible effort, without frills but with much substance. He used the sweep to good effect against the spinners, and used his feet well to collect runs around the ground. He complemented Khawaja well to ensure a well-founded revival after two early wickets were lost. Khawaja played calmly to collect the singles on offer; Handscomb followed.
Both attacked when they saw the opportunity. In the 33rd over bowled by part-timer Kedar Jadhav, Handscomb went down the track twice to hit back-to-back sixes. Off a more established bowler – leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal – he had his third six, also down the ground. There were fours hit in that region as well, and off the ubiquitous sweep shot. The periodic boundaries kept his team in the hunt; as the business end neared, however, he perished trying another belligerent stroke, caught at long-off as he dragged a delivery from outside off-stump off Chahal.
This was in the 42nd over. Turner had by this time already settled in, having collected two boundaries off Kuldeep Yadav, the left-arm chinaman bowler, three overs earlier – via a lofted hit straight down the ground and a sweep – and later, a six, also straight behind the bowler.
The key moment, however, was the 45th over bowled by Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who had lighted up the near-capacity crowd earlier with an in-swinging delivery that snuck through the defences of opener Aaron Finch and uprooted the leg-stump. Coming on to bowl at the death, though, he struggled with his lines and lengths, perhaps due to the difficulty in gripping the wet ball – there was quite a bit of dew.
First, he bowled a full toss and was duly deposited in the stands towards long-on. Then, off a short-ish delivery, he was pulled for a boundary at square leg. In the same over, Turner received a length ball and he lofted it for yet another six.
Bumrah, who had also begun well with the ball, having dismissed Shaun Marsh cheaply off a beautiful yorker, leaked runs, too. In the 46th over, Alex Carey played a cut to the boundary, and then a ramp shot from outside off-stump for six.
The eventful next over, bowled by Bhuvneshwar, seemed to have tilted the contest decisively in favour of Australia. Twenty six were needed when the over began. First, Turner hit a six off a length ball once again, and then he was dropped by the tumbling Kedar Jadhav at deep square-leg. Off the next delivery, Turner played another pull, this time for four, before being dropped by Shikhar Dhawan at mid-off. The crowd was quiet and Kohli had his hands over his mouth at his point, perhaps realising the contest had slipped away.
And to rub salt in the wounds, Carey ensured one more boundary, via a flick. Only formalities remained now, duly completed within the next over.
Turner’s stunning knock stole Dhawan’s thunder, as the left-hand opener came back to form with an attacking century (143, 115b, 18X4, 3X6) to lay the foundation for a big total. He ensured his first score of 50 or more in six innings, middling the ball well for a change and playing flicks, drives, and pulls for boundaries.
After having begun well, he ramped up the scoring with about 15 overs remaining in the innings. He had earlier pulled seamer Jhye Richardson for a six to fine-leg, and by this time, he had thrown caution to the wind enough to step out of his crease and move around it in search of boundaries. Off off-spinner Glenn Maxwell in the 35th over, he played two fierce pulls – for a four and a six. Then, off Pat Cummins, he played a chip shot – reminiscent of Sanath Jayasuriya – for a four through leg, before dragging a delivery in the same over from outside off-stump to long-on for a six.
Trying to play one big stroke too many, he perished, Cummins dismissing him bowled as he attempted a heave across the line. He seemed to have followed in the footsteps of his opening partner Rohit Sharma (95, 92b, 7X4, 2X6), who played a trademark imperious innings, but got out nine short of a century due to a rush of blood.
The track here was placid, and the ball came on to the bat nicely. These conditions are ideal for Rohit when he is on song, and he duly ensured his first half-century in the series. Setting the standard for Dhawan at the other end, he cut, pulled, and drove well. Playing one pull shot too many, he departed in the 30th over, holing out to the fielder at deep square-leg. He was visibly cross with himself after having missed out on a ton.
The duo put up 192 runs, the sixth highest partnership for the first wicket for India, and their second-highest together. The rest of the batsmen played cavalier strokes and gifted their wickets away towards the end; it helped Cummins claim his maiden five-wicket haul in ODIs. Nevertheless, it had seemed Vijay Shankar’s big hits late in the innings had provided India with enough on the board, but as it turned out, Australia had the last laugh.
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