Australia made six changes, but even that was not enough from stopping a confident Indian team from claiming a series win in Melbourne. It was in the same venue that India found their hopes of winning the ODI series vapourising, and on Tuesday, the there was a reversal of fortunes as India beat the hosts by 27 runs to take an unbeatable 2-0 lead in the series. This was the first time ever that India have won a bilateral series of any kind in Australia. Chasing 185 to level the series, Australia made a frenetic start with Aaron Finch scoring heavily. Jasprit Bumrah and Ashish Nehra came in for some heavy damage as Finch, and sometimes Shaun Marsh, laid into the pacers. Finch smashed the left-armer for three back-to-back fours in the third over as Australia wrested control early into the innings. They were also helped by some shabby fielding, with Rishi Dhawan putting down a tough chance off Finch a ball before Shikhar Dhawan dropped a dolly off the same batsman. However, Shaun Marsh’s wicket off the 59th ball of the innings, to R Ashwin, presented India with an opening. MS Dhoni immediately brought on his fifth bowling options in Hardik Pandya and Yuvraj SIngh and they paid immediate dividends. Pandya had Chris Lynn sky a catch to the keeper for 2, while the captain combined with Yuvraj to effect the stumping of Glenn Maxwell for one and restore parity. With Shane Watson and Finch out in the middle, Australia still were in with a great chance. Ravindra Jadeja, however, pulled a stunning return catch off his own bowling to send back Watson before firing in a rocket throw to catch Finch short. From 90 for no loss, Australia had slumped to 124 for five. And it turned out to be a position they could not recover from. Bumrah, who has been India’s find of the series, fittingly took a wicket of the last ball to give India a big win. Asked to bat first, India made a rollicking start with Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan scoring breezily. The opening pair added 97 in just 11 overs and their clean hitting was a highlight. The duo offered no chances other than a couple of tight run-out calls, but even those were touch and go. Dhawan was the first to depart, when he played a reverse sweep straight to point to be dismissed for 43. Rohit notched up his fifty soon after, and with Virat Kohli at the other end, India made rapid progress. Rohit’s innings, in particular, showcased two contrasts. He took 10 balls to get off the mark, but that was the opening he needed as he whacked four fours off his next six balls to catch up. He reached his fifty off just 37 deliveries. Kohli, too, looked in pristine form after his sedate start. He took on John Hastings and slammed his for back-to-back fours, but just when the Kohli-Rohit stand looked set to explode, India suffered a set back. A big mix-up in the middle left Rohit miles out of his crease and he was out for 60. Kohli took over from there and treated the 58,000+ crowd with some exquisite stroke play. He brought up his sixth fifty in seven innings this year, off just 29 balls, as India ended with 184/3.
2015 Kashmir Despatch