There was nothing that could stop George Bailey as his innings of 156 off 114 balls powered Australia to 350 for six against India in the sixth One-Day International (ODI) at Nagpur. Such was Bailey’s brilliance that is is easy to forget that Shane Watson too scored 102. Meanwhile, India can only wonder what went wrong as they had made the changes to the bowling and yet conceded a huge total.
Australia had a quiet start with Phil Hughes and Aaron Finch a little circumspect early on. However, Finch got things going with a few boundaries. However, Hughes was the first to go as he worked one off his pads to Virat Kohli at square leg. Kohli dived to his left to take a good catch. Watson walked in at number three and was determined to make a mark.
The spinners were brought on early and Ravichandran Ashwin struck off his first ball. Finch charged at Ashwin as he was coming round the wicket and missed it completely. The ball clattered into the stumps and India celebrated as Australia were 45 for two in the twelfth over.
George Bailey and Watson then stabilised the innings for a while before taking the attack to the bowlers. Amit Mishra started off by getting good turn and bounce and asked questions to the batsmen. Even Ravindra Jadeja was tough to play. Just then, Watson top edged one off Jadeja and was caught by Rohit Sharma at cover. However, replays showed that he had overstepped. India would certainly live to rue that.
Watson and Bailey then started attacking the spinners. Mishra was smashed through the covers and down the ground, Jadeja and Ashwin were charged at as the batsmen looked in touch. Earlier, Bailey was quiet when compared to Watson, but he then got into the act by getting to his fifty and then unleashing an array of strokes around the ground.
Both batsmen were quick to judge the length and adjust accordingly. If it was short, they rocked back and mercilessly pulled through the on-side. It was sheer carnage as the run-rate kept rising and Dhoni was clueless.
With Watson approaching his ton at the start of the 35th over, Australia opted for the power-play. Watson drover the first through deliveries for four and then guided the third through the leg-side for another boundary to get to his century. However, Shami Ahmed hit back when he disturbed Watson’s woodwork immediately.
Glenn Maxwell then came in and hit two reverse sweeps for four before holing out to mid-wicket. Bailey carried on, placing and pulling his way to fours as he got to his ton off 84 balls. He has scored the most runs by a captain in a one-day bilateral series.
Bailey then continued to charge at the spinners and smashed a couple of sixes. Even when Shami came into attack, he was smashed straight through long-on. Bailey then got Australia’s 300 with a huge six over long-on off Jadeja.
In the last five overs, Bailey was a man possesed and anything on a length by the fast-bowlers was dispatched with ease. Voges was relatively sedate and did pick the occasional boundary. The shot that stood out was when he drove Mishra straight and it went for four. Bailey got to his 150 in 109 balls. It took him only 25 balls to move from 100 to 153.
Bailey’s remarkable effort came to an end when he holed out to long-off on ther first ball of the last over by Jadeja. His innings contained 13 fours and six sixes. The Indian left-arm spinner then had Voges caught and bowled off the next ball, but it was a no-ball. The second time in the game! Jadeja then had his 100th ODI wicket when Mitchell Johnson was caught at deep mid-wicket by Shikhar Dhawan.
So, India have another tall order before them. Deja vu Jaipur they may say! But, can they emulate that feat? Not an easy task by any stretch of imagination.
Australia 350 for 6 in 50 overs (George Bailey 156, Shane Watson 102; Ravichandran Ashwin 2 for 64, Ravindra Jadeja 2 for 68) vs India