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Saturday, November 2, 2013

Cricket: India Win Star Sports ODI Series Against Australia, Diwali Gift For Fans!



Incredible Innings By Rohit Sharma
It was a perfect Happy Diwali from Team India as its top order batsmen regaled millions of fans with incredible fireworks today in Bangalore. India posted the highest total of the Series, 383/6 off 50 overs. The fifth wicket partnership between Rohit Sharma (209 in 158 balls) and MS Dhoni (62 off 38) yielded 167 runs off just 94 balls amassing 101 in the last five and 151 in the last 10 overs. Rohit Sharma became the third batsmen of the world to score an ODI double ton after Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag. He broke the world record of the highest number of sixes in an innings beating Shame Watson’s 15 with his 16. He also became the first world batsmen to score the highest number of runs in an innings against Australia. However, the million dollar question remained still—was the target of 384 set against Australia enough or a safe one?

Incredible Innings By James Faulkner

Well, almost not! If Rohit broke records for the mammoth total, James Faulkner—the match winner in Mohali for the last minute blitz—set new records in almost overhauling the Indian total. He became the second Australian for the fastest hundred and with McKay set the highest partnership ever of 115 runs for Australia for the ninth wicket. From 211 for 8 Faulkner brought his team to a possible victory at 326 for 8 in the 45th over. Then of course it took just two balls to set up an exciting Indian victory by 57 runs in the 7th and last one day international match in Bangalore today. India thus won the Star Sports 7-match ODI Series beating Australia 3-2.

Australia won the toss and decided to field as has been the unofficial rule for most part of the Series thanks basically to the dew factor in the evening making bowling difficult and the inability for any team to define a ‘safe’ total to put up. Australia batted first after winning the toss in the first ODI in Rajkot and won the match. They won the toss again in Jaipur for the second ODI and naturally elected to bat again. Australia made 359 runs and yet lost the match and since then fielding has been the first option after winning the toss for both teams. Australia also did the unimaginable for today’s all-important final by sending their main strike bowler Mitchell Johnson home to prepare for the Ashes Series starting later this month. Johnson has been consistently troubling Indian batsmen, particularly Raina and Yuvraj this Series and this tactical blunder was definitely going to add to the ‘safe target’ related woes.

After the sixth match in Nagpur that India won MS Dhoni launched an attack on the new ODI Rules saying that the earlier 280-290 targets had now become 350+ and even after that you were not sure if you had posted enough. With smaller boundaries introduction of two balls from each end the new Rules has practically ruled out reverse swing for the pacers and deprived the spinners of an older ball. Reducing the number of fielders outside the thirty yard circle from five to four in the non-Powerplay overs the bowlers are made helpless as even a minor variation in line and length paved the way for fours and sixes. To entertain the fours-sixes crowds of cricket T20 was introduced and now to placate them further one day cricket is tempered with too. Well, big money cricket is always here in India to stay. Anyway, when you do not know what total is going to be safe it is always better to know the exact target to chase. In Bangalore the Australian decision was made easier still because of the possibility of evening rains apart from the dew.

Put in to bat, the Indian openers—Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawa—started brilliantly racing to the second consecutive hundred run partnership and the sixth in 19 innings. India were 107 for no loss after 17 overs when rains interrupted. Immediately after play began Dhawan fell for 60 (57 balls) to left-arm spinner Doherty giving the economical bowler the first wicket in this series. Catastrophe happened in the 20th over when the hero of Nagpur Virat Kohli was run out for a duck due to a huge mix-up with Team India at 113 for 2. Things became quiet and steadier as Raina tried to give company to in-form Rohit who notched up his half century too. Very soon he rebuilt the momentum with effortless sixes all around the park, but Raina (28) and Yuvraj Singh (12) could not give him company for long. Although bogged down a bit, Rohit with his captain’s support at the other end completed his 4th century and after that it was incredible cricket he went on with his breathtaking shots and breaking records all the way. Absence of Johnson, injury to Watson after a tight spell and the waywardness of the Aussie seamers were some of the factors contributing to India’s memorable assault.

Injury Scare For Shane Watson
Australia seemed to have started the chase in a hurry thus rather helping the Indian bowlers and wickets fell at regular intervals. Except for a flurry of sixes by Maxwell who had the brute of an innings of 60 off just 22 balls and by injured Watson (49 off 22) things were looking rather gloomy for them. Maybe Dohery’s two wickets showed there was something for spinners on this flat pitch as Ashwin (2 for 51 off 10 overs) and Jadeja (3 for 73 off 10 overs) restrained Australia to some extent. Among the seamers Mohammed Shami was successful taking three wickets. Run out of the hero of the Nagpur match and the highest scorer of the Series Aussie captain George Bailey was a tremendous setback. At 211/8 in the 31st over an Indian victory was written all over completing a Diwali gift. But then Faulkner (116 off 73) blast brought the match alive with patient support of McKay (18 in 65 balls). Finally it was too good to go on and the Faulkner scare for India ended in the first ball of the 46th over with Australia all out for 326. Relief and ecstasy almost overwhelmed captain cool Dhoni as Shikhar Dhawan managed to latch on to the Faulkner catch in the long on boundary.  The Scorecard:

The Bangalore match has been a real Diwali celebration with fireworks continuing till the end. After Diwali India would take on West Indies for the all-important two-Test Series when Sachin Tendulkar is set to complete his 200th Test and bow out of cricket.
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