Spectacular Indian collapse
hasing 349, and cruising home at 277/1 with 72 more required from 76 balls, MS Dhoni and Co nosedive to 323 all out and lose by 25 runs; Yet again, Indians’ centuries go in vain; Kane Richardson takes career-best 5/68 after Finch (107), Warner (93) give hosts solid start
Having already lost the series, Mahendra Singh Dhoni had only pride to protect. They were well on course to doing so in the fourth and penultimate ODI in Canberra on Wednesday when opener Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli were scoring at a brisk pace and an Indian victory was a foregone conclusion.
Chasing 349 to win, India were 277 for the loss of Rohit Sharma, who had given the visitors the impetus with a 25-ball 41. However, after Dhawan scored his ninth ODI century, and the first of the tour, and Kohli notched up his 25th,, and second successive three-figure mark, India were cruising well at 277/1 in the 38th over. At this stage, India needed 72 to win 76 balls when Dhawan fell for 126, ending a 212-run second wicket partnership.
What followed was one of the greatest collapses in limited-overs cricket as Dhoni and Co lost the remaining wickets for an additional 46 runs to be all out for 323 in the final over and go down by 25 runs. Thus, India are 0-4 down with the final ODI in Sydney on Saturday before the three-match Twenty20 series next week.
For the fourth straight match on tour, centuries from the Indians’ blades went in vain.
After winning the toss and choosing to bat on flat batting conditions, Australian openers Aaron Finch and David Warner posted big scores to take the home side to a massive 348/8.
In reply, the Indians smashed the opposition attack all over Manuka Oval. Neither Dhawan nor Kohli looked in any trouble on a lifeless pitch and none of the Australian bowlers were spared. But once Dhawan fell cutting John Hastings to George Bailey at point, the Indian wickets began falling regularly and the Australians began to assert control despite dropping a couple of sitters.
Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni fell for a duck before Kohli hit man-of-the match Kane Richardson (5/68) straight to Australian captain Steve Smith at mid-off, his only false shot in a magnificent 92-ball innings.
With four wickets down and in-form batsman Ajinkya Rahane hampered by split webbing on his right hand, the Indians began to panic as they lost Gurkeerat Singh (5), Rahane (2) and Rishi Dhawan (9) in quick succession.
The tail-enders put up little resistance.
At one stage, we were losing in 40 overs, said right-arm medium-pacer Richardson, who took a career-best haul, his maiden five-wicket bag in his 11th ODI. “For John Hastings to get Shikhar and MS (Dhoni) and Virat in the space of four deliveries changed the momentum. That was the key moment in the game.”
“It’s a funny game, isn’t it?” said a delighted Smith. “It looked like they were cruising for a while there, but a couple of wickets always changes the swing of things. We had a never-say-die attitude tonight, which is something I want to instil in these guys.
We worked incredibly hard to get back into that game and when we got a sniff we ran with it.Earlier, Finch made 107 and Warner 93 in a huge opening stand of 187. Smith then smashed 51 off only 29 balls and Glenn Maxwell 41 from 20 in a display of powerful shot-making.
Warner brought up his 50 from 46 balls with eight fours and one six. Finch was more sedate than his partner, taking 61 balls for his half-century, but began to pick up the pace soon afterwards.
His innings was especially damaging to umpire Richard Kettleborough, who was hit on the shin by a powerful on-drive and had to be replaced in the middle by Paul Wilson. After breaking the opening stand India took regular wickets to slow the scoring down until Maxwell let rip in the last two overs to post a target that eventually proved too much.