Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dhoni stars in India's victory

India register a comfortable 99-run victory over Australia in the second ODI to square the series 1-1.

Australia lost Tim Paine and Shane Watson early, chasing a massive target of 355 runs against India.

Captain Ricky Ponting also failed to sustain for long and departed cheaply.

Therafter, Cameron White and Michael Hussey tried to consolidate the innings but they could not accelerate the run-rate.

Harbhajan Singh then sent back White for 23 off 42 balls.

Hussey, however, continued to play his shots well and completed his half-century to give Australia some hope.

Hussey departed after scoring a fine half-century as Ravindra Jadeja claimed his wicket.

Aussies kept losing wickets at regular intervals and then it was just a matter of time before the tourists' innings folded for 255 in 48.3 overs.

Earlier, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni blazed his way to his first ODI century in more than a year and also cobbled two century stands to power India to a record total of 354 for six against Australia in the second one-dayer on Wednesday.

Dhoni completed his century in only 94 balls, studded with two sixes and seven fours, as he simply tore the visiting team's attack to shreds on a good batting track after India were asked to bat first by Australia captain Ricky Ponting in the day-nighter.

The Indian captain was finally out for 124, after hitting his fifth century in 147 ODIs, which helped the home team easily overhaul the previous highest -- 309 for five -- against Australia raised in Kochi in April, 1998. He faced 107 balls and smashed three sixes and nine fours.

Dhoni, who came to the crease when India were struggling at 97 for three in the 16th over, first consolidated the home team innings with Gautam Gambhir (76 in 80 balls) by running the singles and twos well and then opened up in the slog overs in the company of another left hander Suresh Raina (62 off 50 balls).

After Virender Sehwag made a quick-fire 40 off only 31 balls, Dhoni, whose last century (109 not out) was against lowly Hong Kong in June 2008 in the Asia Cup tie in Karachi, and Gambhir (76) laid the platform with a stand of 119 runs for the fourth wicket in only 113 balls.

The Australian bowlers felt the full fury of Dhoni's blade after Gambhir was run out just before the mandatory change of ball.

Dhoni joined forces with another left-hander Raina, who struck one six and six fours, to simply tear the Aussie attack to ribbons with a partnership of 136 in only 96 balls.

Gambhir, who faced 80 balls and hit six fours, was run-out at non-striker's end by backing up too much just when he was poised to up the tempo in the company of his captain.

The task was then left to Dhoni and Raina to keep up the momentum. The fifth wicket pair utilised the batting Power Play, taken between 40th and 44th overs, to add 39 runs, with the India captain in full flow with his bottom-handed shots against the Aussie pacemen Peter Siddle and Mitchell Johnson.

Australia conceded as many as 116 runs in the last eleven overs from the time India's batting Power Play ended.

Earlier, India began their innings in spectacular style with Sehwag taking a particular fancy for the swing bowling of inexperienced Tasmanian Ben Hilfenhaus.
Sehwag spanked the second ball he faced in the match from the 27-year-old rookie, playing only his 14th ODI and first in the subcontinent, to the covers and then square-drove the bowler off the backfoot for another four to set the tone.

Sachin Tendulkar (4) worked Peter Siddle off his toes for a four but was dismissed stretching out to a ball that was bowled wide of the stumps by the bowler in his next over and edged it to the slip cordon. He had got out driving a wide ball in the first ODI at Vadodara.

Tendulkar's departure brought in Gambhir, India's top-scorer in the first ODI, and the Delhi pair kept the scoring rate above six-run mark with attacking shots.

Sehwag lofted Johnson, who passed a fitness test to play in the match after an ankle-injury scare, for a straight six.

The Delhi batsman, however, fell to the left-arm pacer as he mistimed a lofted shot to haul out to Hilfenhaus. His 40 came off 31 balls and included six fours and a six.

Yuvraj Singh, who came in for Sehwag, showed no uneasy signs of playing his first match since mid-September, and timed the ball beautifully in making a quickfire 23 with two fours and a six before being brilliantly caught and bowled by Hilfenhaus when he could not keep down a straight drive.

India lost three top-order batsmen just in sight of 100 on the board and in the 16th over. It called for some diligent batting from Gambhir and the Delhi batsman curbed his attacking instincts to play the sheet-anchor role for the second match running.

Gambhir and Dhoni ran their singles and twos very well and completed their individual half centuries in similar fashion, off 55 balls.

The Indian duo's three-figure partnership laid the ideal platform for the later assault by the Indian skipper in the company of Raina.

For Australia, Peter Siddle was the pick of the bowlers with his pace and effective use of the short ball in his earlier spell before he too was carted around by Dhoni and Raina.

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