Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s century and Virat Kohli’s half-century helped India reach 303 for nine in 50 overs against Australia in the third One-Day International (ODI) at the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) Stadium in Mohali on Saturday.
Dhoni’s 121-ball 139 included 12 boundaries and five shots outside the park,scoring mainly on the leg side and straight down the ground.
After winning the toss, George Bailey elected to field first. With due expected to be heavy towards the latter part of the day and the brutal onslaught of the Indian batsmen in the previous encounter, it was a decision on expected lines. The green cover on the pitch would’ve also tempted the Australian skipper to unleash his pacers after a demoralising outing at Jaipur.
The pitch curator Daljit Singh had said before the start of the match that the wicket was good enough for a high-scoring encounter, but it won’t be like the one at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium , where the batsman scored a ‘vulgar’ amount of runs. The pitch had enough for the bowlers, he reckoned.
Bailey would’ve been pleased to see his move work as both the openers — Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma — fell early. Suresh Raina and Kohli combined to put on a stable partnership, before the former was undone by short-pitched bowling.
Johnson, who opened the bowling for Australia, was brought back into the attack in the 11th over to trouble the left-hander. After being unsuccessful in the first over of his return spell, he finally found success in the 13th over when Raina couldn’t sway away from a delivery targeted just outside his off-side.
The local boy Yuvraj Singh’s stay at the crease wasn’t too long either. He was dismissed for a first ball duck trying to poke at a delivery outside off-stump. It was his second Golden Duck at Mohali after the 2011 World Cup semi-final match against Pakistan where he was bowled by Wahab Riaz. By then, India were reduced to 76 for four.
Nonetheless, Kohli looked in good touch and hit crisp shots. Without taking any risks, he scored at about run-a-ball. In company of Dhoni, he consolidated the Indian innings.
Dhoni started off the innings slowly. After suffering a hamstring injury early in his innings, Dhoni had trouble while running. However, as the match progressed, the pace of his running as well as his innings increased.
Just when they looked well set to go on the attack, Kohli was dismissed trying to cut Glenn Maxwell by edging the delivery to the wicketkeeper. Ravindra Jadeja, who was presented with a fine opportunity to showcase his ability as a batsman failed yet again as he became the fourth player in the Indian innings to get dismissed off a short-pitched delivery.
It was in the company of Ravichandran Ashwin that Dhoni unleashed his attacking instincts. The duo added 76 runs off 67 deliveries for the seventh wicket partnership. In the 37th over, Dhoni brought up his 49th ODI half-century off 77 balls.
However, it was after that, he took the attack to the opposition. His next 50 runs took just 30 balls. To add to Australia’s misery, skipper Bailey dropped him in the 49th over. Dhoni took no time to take advantage of that as he hit a boundary off the very next ball and a huge six three balls later.
For Australia, Johnson was the pick of the bowlers picking up four wickets for 46 runs off his 10 overs.
India 303 for 9 in 50 overs (Virat Kohli 68, MS Dhoni 139*; Mitchell Johnson 4 for 46) vs Australia
(Aayush Puthran is a reporter with CricketCountry. Mercurially jovial, pseudo pompous, perpetually curious and occasionally confused, he is always up for a light-hearted chat over a few cups of filter kaapi!)