Another chase, another match-winning ODI century by Virat Kohli. Nothing surprising. Kohli’s consistency and ability score centuries at the drop of a hat only sealed his class as one of the best in the business. MS Dhoni, criticised for his slow knock in Sydney, scored yet another fifty but this time at a strike-rate in excess of 90. He sealed the deal with a six and finished the game in his vintage, match-winning style. Kohli’s century and Dhoni’s redemptive master-class allowed India to win the Adelaide ODI by six wickets against Australia on Tuesday and level the three-match series 1-1. With both veterans putting on a master class, it should not be forgotten that Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s haul of 4/45 played a small but pivotal role in restricting Australia to a score under 300.
Unlike in Sydney where they were blown away by Jhye Richardson and Jason Behrendorff in their pursuit of 289, in Adelaide, the top order started off more confidently. Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma targeted the hero from the Sydney ODI Richardson by regularly hitting boundaries off him. The partnership between Dhawan and Rohit had a scoring rate of over six but Dhawan, in the pursuit of aggression, top-edged Behrendorff to fall for 32. Rohit (43) hit a couple of sixes off Peter Siddle and Nathan Lyon but he missed out on a chance to score fifty when he holed out to Peter Handscomb at deep midwicket off Marcus Stoinis. That brought in Kohli.
Masterclass on show
Kohli gauged the situation brilliantly and rotated the strike brilliantly. While Kohli was fluent, Ambati Rayudu struggled for timing and his scratchy innings ended on 24 when he miscued Glenn Maxwell off Marcus Stoinis. Dhoni, much maligned for his Sydney knock, started off slowly but this time, he regularly found the gaps brilliantly. After going past his fifty, Kohli stepped up a gear. After going without a boundary for over 40 deliveries, Kohli broke the shackles by clobbering a six and a four off Behrendorff to get into match-winning on mode.
Kohli came closer to his century by hammering Nathan Lyon over long off for his second six and he notched up his fifth century in Australia, the joint-most by any overseas batsmen in Australia. Along the way, he also went past 6,000 ODI runs overseas. When Kohli fell for 104, it seemed that the chase would fizzle out but Dhoni showcased his calmness and guided India home. The fact that India did not have to chase over 300 owed much to Bhuvneshwar’s exploits earlier in the day.
Marsh century in vain
Australia opted to bat and they started off poorly when Aaron Finch and Alex Carey fell to Bhuvneshwar and Mohammed Shami in quick succession. Shaun Marsh and Usman Khawaja steadied the ship with a 56-run stand for the third wicket but once Khawaja was run-out for 21 thanks to a direct hit from Ravindra Jadeja, Marsh held firm and buoyed Australia towards a good score.
The left-hander struck boundaries at will, mostly of Siraj and he grew in confidence even against the spinners, lofting Kuldeep Yadav to the long off fence. Marsh neared his century by cutting Kuldeep to the deep backward point fence and he reached his century by pushing the chinaman bowler to the long off fence. After reaching his century, Marsh opened up by lofting Kuldeep inside-out over the deep extra cover fence. He was ably assisted by Glenn Maxwell, who smashed boundaries on a consistent basis as Australia hit 76 runs in seven overs. However, the 48th over got India back into the contest. Bhuvneshwar got the wickets of Marsh (131) and Maxwell (48) and the tail-enders failed to get going. Only 17 runs came in two overs and Bhuvneshwar ended with 4/45.
In Sydney, Australia managed to hold off Rohit Sharma and Dhoni’s combined attack to win in 34 runs. However, in Adelaide, they failed to match-up to the brilliance of Kohli and Dhoni. The series is well and truly alive and Melbourne offers India another chance at a slice of history again.