India today wrapped up the bilateral One Day International Series 2-1 against Australia in a rain-interrupted day at the MCG, Melbourne. That brings to an end their most successful overseas tour ever having tied the T20 series and the Test Series 2-1 earlier. That it was against Australia will give the Indians much joy considering the fact that they did not do so well in their other overseas tours of South Africa and England this past year. The fact remains that Australia was minus their two top players, Steve Smith and David Warner because they were suspended for their role in the sandpaper incident, but still beating Australia in Australia and comprehensively at that, is something the Indian cricketers and the fans will treasure for a long time to come.
In a low scoring match, in which Australia was dismissed for 230 runs, India reached the target in the last over of the match with four balls to spare. Dhoni’s catch at first slip off the first ball that he faced was put down by a fielder no less than that of the calibre of Glenn Campbell of the first ball that he faced. Again when Dhoni was on 74 he was dropped by Aaron Finch, a sharp chance though it was, off Stoinis in the 47th over. Dhoni has moved up the order and came in at number four in the batting order, that is at the fall of the second wicket. He along with Kedar Jadhav led India to a seven-wicket victory.
The Australians who were put in to bat by Kohli, when he won the toss, too found scoring runs difficult. The pitch, although it had some bounce and carry in it, was devoid of any grass and the ball did not come on to the bat as it usually does on the Australian pitches. The play was interrupted by rain when Bhuwaneshwar Kumar had bowled only two balls into his first over. After resumption, Alex Carey was the first to go when he was caught by a diving Kohli off Kumar at second slip. The unfortunate Australian captain also fell lbw to Kumar off the last ball of his first spell for an individual score of 14, leaving Australia at 27 runs for the loss of two wickets.
Usman Khawaja and Shaun Marsh saw off the next 13 overs stitching together a partnership of 72 runs till Yazuvendra Chahal came in to bowl. The slow right arm leg spinner got Shaun Marsh of the second delivery of his first over. He tossed up a ball well outside the leg stump seeing the batsman charging and had him stumped by Dhoni. Three balls later Chahal had Khawaja ballooning a leading edge back to him and took a comfortable catch. With figures of 1-0-2-2 Chahal had joined the Indian party at the first opportunity he was provided with. Australia were 101 for 4 wickets off 24 overs at this stage.
Chahal also claimed the wicket of Marcus Stoinis in the same spell when he had the Australian batsman caught one-handed by Rohit Sharma off a vicious leg spinner. Maxwell attempted to stroke his way out of trouble but was soon dismissed by Mohammed Shami caught by Bhuwaneshwar Kumar off a short ball. Australia was now 162 for six wickets off 35 overs with Maxwell gone for 26 runs. It was for Handscomb thereafter to continue to play an attacking inning before Chahal returned for his second spell. The wrist spinner first had Jhye Richardson caught at short midwicket by Kedar Jadhav and in his next over had Peter Handscomb lbw to leave Australia at 219 runs for 8 wickets.
Chahal wasn’t done yet. In his last over of the match, he had Adam Zampa caught by Vijay Shankar at long on. By the time Shami had clean bowled Billy Stanlake to end the Australian inning, Yazuvendra Chahal had finished with 6 wickets for 42 runs equalling those of Ajit Agarkar in Australia against Australia at the same ground in 2004. These are also the best figures for any bowler for India in all ODI’s. With Australia all-out for 230 runs the game looked all set for India to just do the rites.
That wasn’t to be though, as the Indians found out that they too had difficulty in putting the ball away. With the ball coming on to the bat slowly, timing their shots was proving to be difficult. The longer boundaries of the MCG made scoring boundaries even tougher. Though Rohit Sharma was let off with the benefit given to the call by the Umpire on the field in only the second over but was soon caught by Shaun Marsh at first slip when trying to flick a ball through mid-wicket. Dhawan gave company to Virat Kohli for the next ten overs before he too was caught and bowled by Stonis playing early to a ball that held back off the pitch.
Dhoni, promoted to number four joined Kohli in the middle. The two of them took the score to 113 when Kohli was caught behind by Alex Carey off Richardson for 45 runs. At that stage, India needed another 119 runs off a possible 20 overs to win the match. Dhoni and Kadar Jhadhav batted sedately thereafter not giving too much heed to the mounting asking rate raising the rate of the heartbeat of the spectators a few notches. The Australians too knew that they were in with a chance. But none had bargained with Dhoni's ability to guide and finish an inning to perfection without breaking a sweat.
When Adam Zampa came in to bowl Australia’s 44th over and his last of the inning India needed 53 runs off 42 balls at an average of 7.57 runs per over to win the match. Yet Dhoni calmly played five dot balls of his over and score a single off the last ball. Kedar Jadhav led the charge toward the end ably supported by Dhoni. They converted singles into two runs and two runs into three to ultimately finish the match with seven wickets and four balls to spare. That gave India a 2-1 victory in the ODI series over Australia. Yazuvendra Chahal was named the man of the match and Mahendra Singh Dhoni the Man of the Series for his brilliantly guiding India to victory at both Sydney and at Melbourne.