India captain Virat Kohli called the series levelling-win an “MS classic” after Mahendra Singh Dhoni, with sixes that reminded of his heydays, hammered home the point that the finisher in him is still alive.
Dhoni slammed an unbeaten 55 off 54 balls after Kohli laid the foundation for India’s six-wicket victory over Australia in the second ODI with a fluent century.
“There is no doubt that he should be a part of this team. Tonight was MS classic. He calculates the game so well. He takes the game till the end, when only he knows what’s going on in his mind, and he backs himself to hit those big shots at the end,” Kohli said at the post-match presentation ceremony.
Kohli could not take his team home this time but Dhoni and Dinesh Karthik (25 off 14) rose to the occasion with an unbeaten 57-run stand, helping India chase down a target of 299 with four balls to spare.
“You look for little moments to pump you up, get into the zone, and that’s what I was trying to do. I tried to stay as aware as possible in recognising the moment to strike.
“I thought those 2-3 overs were the moment, to bring the gap between runs and balls down. When it comes off it looks good. It was a really tough day. My pants are white with sweat, the salts coming out. MS was tired as well, fielding for 50 overs and batting as well, it was tough.”
Kohli praised seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar for his crucial blows at the death.
“We wanted to try and restrict them in the end. I thought they were going to get away from us when Maxy (Glenn Maxwell) and Shaun (Marsh) were in. Getting them in two balls was brilliant. I thought 298 was par on that wicket, with the start they had.
“Bhuvi was outstanding to pull things back for us. Vijay Shankar is in the squad, he’s an all-rounder, so that gives us an option to play around with - but we’ll see how we go. But backing five bowlers and seeing it come off is pleasing as a captain.”
Australia rode Marsh’s century to post a challenging target after winning the first ODI. But India’s batting might proved too good for the home bowlers.
Skipper Aaron Finch acknowledged that.
“When you come up like a batting side against India, you know you have to get wickets regularly, and we ran into that man Dhoni as well. Credit to India, they played well. What we’ve been working towards is some real solid performances through the middle overs. I’m responsible for the Powerplays, and I’ve not been coming off. It’s a matter of time, I think," Finch said.
The Australian skipper lavished praise on Marsh.
“Shaun Marsh’s was a hell of an innings. He was pretty cooked by the end of it. To get 138 in brutal conditions this afternoon, with that heat, and for us to get 298, was pleasing, but in the end they managed to get past that."