Adelaide, Feb 12: Captain MS Dhoni led India to a thrilling four-wicket victory over Australia in the tri-series here at the Adelaide Oval on Sunday.
[Scorecard: India vs Australia, Feb 12]
India, chasing 270 for victory, won the contest with two balls to spare with Captain Cool Dhoni (44 not out) guiding the team home after Man-of-the-match Gautam Gambhir (92) had put India on the right track. India ended with 270/6 in 49.4 overs in reply to Australia's 269/8 in 50 overs.
It was a nerve-wracking finish to the game with India needing 13 off the last over. Clint McKay, Australia's most successful bowler of the match, bowled the over with Ravichandran Ashwin on strike. There was no run off the first ball but Ashwin took a single off the next. With 12 required off four, Dhoni unleashed one of the biggest sixes you will ever see, a huge 112-metre hit over wide long-on.
The captain declared "this six was very special" in his post-match comments. He said: "This six was very special. The World Cup six was too but we could have done that with singles. You have to analyse whether you should be playing that shot. There were a few shots we shouldn't have played in this game so we need to work on that. We need to now concentrate one game at a time."
That six virtually sealed India's victory. With six off the remaining three deliveries, Dhoni was caught on the boundary off a no-ball (above waist ball) that yielded three runs overall. With three off three, Dhoni collected three runs off the fourth ball for a thrilling climax.
Dhoni remained unbeaten on 44 (58 balls, 1x6). Incidentally that was the only boundary scoring shot for Dhoni with no fours in the entire innings. He paced his innings brilliantly. After being happy to just take singles and doubles, he accelerated when it was needed.
When Dhoni arrived at the crease, he seemed to be struggling. He consumed 34 balls for his first 14 runs. But the next 30 came off 24 balls. A well calculated knock indeed. He and Suresh Raina associated for 61 runs for the fifth wicket.
The platform for an Indian success was set by Gambhir with a well-paced 92 (111 balls, 7x4). Raina also contributed with 38 while Rohit Sharma made 33. This was Gambhir's 29th ODI half century.
Virender Sehwag (20) also looked good before falling to an ordinary delivery. The Indian openers made a good start with a half century partnership (52 in 9.1 overs).
McKay was the most successful bowler for the hosts with figures of 3/53 in 9.4 overs. Initially, he had threatened to derail India's chase but when the crunch moment came, Dhoni and the rest made him look ordinary. In the final spell of 2.4 overs, McKay was hit for 32 runs without a wicket. His earlier seven overs went for just 21 with three scalps.
Left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty, yet again, proved his worth with 2/51 in 9 overs.
This was the first loss for Australia in the tournament and they are still on top of the table with nine points while India have eight and occupy the second spot. Sri Lanka, having lost both matches, are without a point.
On Tuesday, India and Sri Lanka meet at the same venue.
Australia Innings Report
Debutant Peter Forrest impressed with a fine half century while David Hussey top scored with 72 to lead Australia to 269/8 in 50 overs.
Australia could have scored more if not for the wicket of Hussey in the 45th over as the hosts' batsmen were looking good for a total close to 300. Indian bowlers gave 57 runs off the final 10 overs.
Vinay Kumar and Umesh Yadav took two wickets each while Zaheer Khan had one.
This was Australia's highest ODI score since April, 2011. It is also the best team score in the current tri-series.
It was the 26-year-old debutant Forrest's day. He was impressive in his first game. His 66-run knock off 83 balls with five boundaries and two sixes augurs well for Australian future. After the Australian selectors decided to rest senior batsman Michael Hussey, the chance in middle order came to Forrest and he has done well to seal the spot.
Forrest began confidently using his feet to the spinners and launched Ravindra Jadeja into the straight boundary for a 100-metre six. The right-hander grew stronger with every shot, cutting and driving with ease. Forrest was set for more runs but mistimed a pull off Umesh Yadav to be caught by Vinay Kumar for 66.
Hussey and Forrest associated for 98 runs for the fourth wicket after Australia were 81/3 in 17.5 overs. Hussey continued his good form this series with a quick half century. Known for his big hitting, he could have caused more damage to India in the slog overs but fell to a fine diving catch by Virender Sehwag at square leg off Zaheer.
Michael Clarke won the toss and opted to bat first. Australia sent Ricky Ponting as an opener with David Warner but the move did not work. Vinay Kumar got Ponting (6) early, caught at point by Virat Kohli.
Warner (18) was run out to a brilliant piece of fielding by Rohit Sharma. As Warner pushed a ball from Vinay to cover, Rohit dived and stopped the ball even as the left-hander set off for a run and Clarke responded. With both batsmen ending at striker's end, Warner sacrificed his wicket as Rohit sent down a throw to Vinay to complete an easy run out at the non-striker's end.
Toss Report: India rest Sachin
Australia will bat first against India after captain Michael Clarke won the toss and opted to make use of the good batting conditions at the Adelaide Oval on Sunday.
Sachin Tendulkar has been rested from this ODI after India have decided to rotate their top three batsmen. Gautam Gambhir returns. Umesh Yadav also gets a chance in place of Praveen Kumar.
For Australia, batsman Peter Forrest, 26, will make his ODI debut. Michael Hussey has been rested.
Australia are currently on top of the points table with nine points with two wins in two matches including a bonus point against India in the opener in Melbourne on February 5. India are second with four from two games. Sri Lanka are yet to open their account after losing to India and Australia in their two matches.
Teams: Australia: Michael Clarke (captain), David Warner, Ricky Ponting, Peter Forrest, Dan Christian, David Hussey, Matthew Wade, Ryan Harris, Mitchell Starc, Xavier Doherty, Clint McKay.
India: MS Dhoni (captain), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Umesh Yadav, Vinay Kumar, Zaheer Khan.
Umpires: Nigel Llong (England) and Paul Reiffel (Australia)
Third Umpire: Bruce Oxenford (Australia)
Match Referee: Andrew Pycroft (Zimbabwe)