A defiant half-century from Peter Handscomb has left India needing just 231 to win the series-deciding Gillette ODI at the MCG and hand Australia a sixth consecutive one-day series defeat.
A career-best six-wicket haul to recalled leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal was the cornerstone of an impressive Indian performance in the field as Australia were bowled out for just 230 on a gloomy Melbourne afternoon, a total India’s star-studded batting line-up will fancy chasing down on a straw-coloured pitch that showed little sign of any demons in the home side’s innings.
After Australia’s opening pair were both dismissed inside 10 overs for the third time in the series, Usman Khawaja (34) and Shaun Marsh (39) slowly rebuilt the innings and brought up 100 without further loss, laying a platform for a competitive total.
But the match turned in an extraordinary first over from Chahal, who removed Marsh and Khawaja in the space of three balls just as the Australian pair had begun to find their rhythm.
Playing his first match of the series, Chahal had Marsh stumped from a leg-side wide with just his second ball, the third umpire required to determine that both the bowler’s front foot was marginally behind the line and wicketkeeper MS Dhoni had broken the stumps before Marsh’s bat had made it back to safety.
Three balls later, Khawaja’s attempted push to another leg-side delivery somehow resulted in a simple lobbed catch back to the bowler, handing the leg-spinner two wickets from innocuous deliveries that could have easily ended up at the boundary rope.
But there was nothing fortuitous about Chahal’s third wicket; a well-flighted leg-break drifted into the pads of Marcus Stoinis and spun sharply, finding the outside edge of the defending batsman to Rohit Sharma’s right at slip, the vice-captain moving sharply to grasp the ball an inch above the ground.
It was the recently-recalled Handscomb who stood firm, as he’d done in Sydney a week ago, to at least ensure Australia posted a total of some substance.
The right-hander scored 58 at close to a run a ball as wickets tumbled around him before he played back to a straight one from Chahal and was trapped in front, handing the leg-spinner his fifth wicket.
The 28-year-old finished with 6-42, the equal-best ODI bowling figures ever on Australian soil, as the hosts were dismissed with eight deliveries still remaining.
While chasing the target, Australia got the big wicket of Rohit Sharma when Shaun Marsh dived to his left to take a good catch at first slip. Rohit Sharma played across the line against Peter Siddle and his bat closed at the point of impact with the ball.
The right-hander got the outside edge and had to walk back. India’s deputy must have been disappointed as it was a poor shot.
Later, Stoinis strikes in his first over as Shikhar Dhawan doesn’t keep the straight drive along the ground, in fact he was slightly early in the shot driving with hard hands. Stoinis takes a fantastic return catch in his follow through to pick a key wicket.
Kohli and Dhoni find ways to survive this phase but both Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni were dropped in a tense run chase.
The pair looks a bit stuttered when it comes to running between the wickets today. Dhoni should have been out twice now. He was dropped by Maxwell at point off Stoinis, and then Australia messed up a run out chance at the bowler’s end. The partnership is now in the 40s, so India can breath a bit easier.
MS DHONI DROPPED ON ZERO! BIG MOMENT IN THE MATCH THIS! Stoinis could have had two in two. Maxwell drops a sitter. MS Dhoni is in at number four and cuts it straight to Maxwell at point. Regulation catch put down. First Kohli and now Dhoni. Australia have been inexplicably poor.
Earlier, Kohli was put down by Handscomb on 10 off Stanlake’s bowling. Kohli once again going for the cut not accounting for Stanlake’s extra bounce, gets a thick edge with the ball flying over Handscomb’s head. Was a tough catch but a big wicket at stake too. Runs to third man fence.
Here’s the video of all the missed chances:
— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) January 18, 2019