India makes a mockery of a big total

Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan had a rollicking stand, with the former remaining unbeaten on 141.-PTI

“Chasing 360 is never easy. We held our nerves and played according to the situation and capitalised on the loose balls. We needed big partnerships and that’s what exactly happened,” said Rohit Sharma after India’s memorable victory over Australia. Vijay Lokapally reports.

There was talk of the short ball dominating the contest. The Indian batsmen had showed their vulnerability against short stuff in the preceding matches against the Australians.

On the eve of the Jaipur match, Virat Kohli, who has made amazing progress as an aggressive batsman, emphasised that the team had not made any specific preparation to tackle the “short-pitched bowling.” He conceded that the Australians have that “extra pace.” The next day he just strode to the middle and made such a stunning statement on India’s batting potential.

The Australians came up with one of their best batting shows in recent times. There was purpose in the manner in which Australia approached its task, keeping wickets in hand and milking the Indian attack which looked very ordinary. Skipper George Bailey exposed the Indian attack as Australia posted an imposing target of 360. But India made a mockery of that total and won by nine wickets with a lot of balls to spare.

“Chasing 360 is never easy. We held our nerves and played according to the situation and capitalised on the loose balls. We needed big partnerships and that’s what exactly happened. The opening partnership was (176) and then Kohli and I finished off really well. Big chases need big partnerships and that’s what happened,” said Rohit Sharma, who was the star-performer. He compiled a brilliant 141, one of the best knocks by an Indian batsman in this format of the game.

Australia’s top five batsmen scored half centuries. Aaron Finch, Phil Hughes, Shane Watson, Bailey and Glenn Maxwell hammered the Indian bowlers and set a stiff target. “Yes, it was a lot of runs, but we knew that because of the new five-fielder rule, any target can be chased. I am not saying it’s easy, but it can be done. It’s important for set batsmen to stay till the end and for lots of partnerships to take shape. Shikhar (Dhawan) and I did that first and then Virat played a fantastic knock. We needed to keep wickets in hand but I had no idea we would win by nine wickets. That was special,” said Rohit Sharma.

George Bailey sends one to the fence. The Aussie captain enthralled the crown with an unbeaten 92.-S. SUBRAMANIUM

It was special indeed as India lost just the wicket of Dhawan and in the process made a magnificent statement of its preparation. The depth in Indian batting was never in doubt but the ease with which the mission was accomplished left the Australians in a daze. The batsmen, led by some dynamic hitting by Dhawan, followed by Rohit and Kohli, dominated the Aussie bowlers and recorded a sensational victory.

Bailey noted, “We were surprised that they chased 359 in 43 overs — yes, it was a phenomenal batting performance. We spoke about it afterwards like we do after every game. We look at everything, what we did right and what we need to do differently. It’s hard to know what motivates bowlers on these wickets. I think I would like to see a little bit more help for the bowlers if they bend their backs and a little bit for the spinners. But that’s how it is around the world, different conditions. That’s how it is everywhere. But that’s the beauty of the game around the world.”

The bowlers looked pedestrian as the flat pitch gave them little assistance. No bowler on view could save his reputation as batsmen stepped out to fast bowlers and clouted them straight and square. Dhawan and Rohit raised visions of a successful chase and Kohli completed the job in a most authoritative manner.

Bailey said that the Australians knew the game had slipped away from the moment Kohli came to the crease. “He raised the tempo straightaway, which is saying something because of where they were when he came out. It was such a smart move by him and he ensured that Rohit didn’t have to take many risks. For us to get back into the game, we had to get both set batsmen out and try to have new batsmen at the crease and squeeze in a couple of quiet overs … but he went after the bowling from ball one. Rohit could take the foot off the pedal a bit and cruise. Very smartly done.”

It was undoubtedly very smartly done as India registered one of its famous victories and demonstrated the awesome batting talent that had come to signify this young Indian team. In Jaipur, it hardly looked a combination that was in transition. It looked as settled as any other team in the international circuit.

THE SCORES

India v Australia, Jaipur, October 16. India won by nine wickets.

Australia: Aaron Finch (run out) 50; Phil Hughes c Dhoni b Ashwin 83; Shane Watson c Ishant Sharma b Vinay Kumar 59; George Bailey (not out) 92; Glenn Maxwell (run out) 53; Adam Voges c Kumar b Vinay Kumar 11; Brad Haddin (not out) 1; Extras: (LB-5, W-5) 10; Total: (for 5 wkts.) 359.

Fall of wickets: 1-74, 2-182, 3-212, 4-308, 5-347.

India bowling: Bhuvneshwar Kumar 10-0-54-0; Ishant Sharma 9-1-70-0; Vinay Kumar 9-0-73-2; Ravindra Jadeja 10-0-72-0; R. Ashwin 8-0-50-1; Yuvraj Singh 4-0-35-0.

India: Rohit Sharma (not out) 141; Shikhar Dhawan c Haddin b Faulkner 95; Virat Kohli (not out) 100; Extras (lb 5, w 21) 26; Total (for one wkt. in 43.3 overs) 362.

Fall of wickets: 1-176.

Australia bowling: Mitchell Johnson 9-1-68-0; Clint McKay 7-0-64-0; Shane Watson 5-0-47-0; Xavier Doherty 10-0-70-0; Glenn Maxwell 5.3-0-48-0; James Faulkner 7-0-60-1.