Defiant Dhoni downs Australia
Mahendra Singh Dhoni held his nerve at the death to propel India to a dramatic four-wicket victory over Australia in the fourth match of the Commonwealth Bank one-day international tri-series in Adelaide.
India, chasing 270 for successive ODI triumphs, required 13 from Clint McKay’s final over after Xavier Doherty applied the brakes with consecutive dot balls to end the penultimate set of six.
After Ravichandran Ashwin could only muster one from the opening two balls, the India captain smashed his only boundary, a huge six over long-on, before guiding McKay’s next two deliveries, the first a no-ball, to deep backward square to seal victory.
India had looked to be cruising to their target with Gautam Gambhir at the crease, but when the opening batsman became McKay’s third victim for 92 and Suresh Raina departed with 31 still needed, it required Dhoni’s trademark nerve to finish the match.
Half-centuries from debutant Peter Forrest and David Hussey guided the hosts to 269 for eight, with Vinay Kumar and Umesh Yadav claiming two wickets apiece.
Australia lost both openers inside the first 10 overs. Ricky Ponting drove on the up to Virat Kohli at point and Vinay ran out David Warner for 18.
Skipper Michael Clarke struck five fours in his 43-ball 38 before providing Yadav with his first scalp to bring Forrest and Hussey together with the score on 81.
The pair built a foundation with a 98-run partnership in 18 overs, until Forrest lost his wicket for the first time in international cricket when he picked out an onrushing Vinay at deep square-leg to depart for 66.
Zaheer Khan ended Hussey’s 76-ball 72, which included five fours, to spark a trio of wickets in the final three overs. Dan Christian, who made 39 from 36 balls, Matthew Wade and McKay all fell as Australia tried to add late impetus.
India eased to 50 inside nine overs before McKay struck to remove Virender Sehwag, who looped a leading edge into the hands of Hussey, and Kohli picked out Forrest at cover for 18.
Rohit Sharma and Gambhir brought stability to the innings with a solid 76-run stand, but the pair both departed in the space of three overs as Australia rallied.
Trying to hit over the top, Rohit provided Mitchell Starc with a simple take at long-on and Gambhir, who found the boundary on seven occasions, saw his 111-ball innings end when he was trapped in front by McKay.
However, Raina and Dhoni joined forces to get India back on track only for Doherty to return and put another twist in the tale with two scalps.
Raina, who hit three fours and one maximum in his 38 off 30 balls, was bowled and Ravindra Jadeja, trying to clear the ropes, picked out Ponting at deep midwicket to set-up a nervy finish.
But the reliable Dhoni, who ended unbeaten on 44, kept cool under pressure to once again finish an ODI in emphatic fashion.