Adelaide: India held their nerves to conjure up a four-wicket victory by chasing down a target of 270 with two balls to spare in their tri-series encounter against Australia on Sunday.
Needing 13 runs off the last over, MS Dhoni hit a massive six on the third Clint McKay delivery after R Ashwin took a single off the second. Dhoni then made full use of an over-the-waist full toss - which was declared a no-ball by the umpire Nigel Llong – to get back on strike and sealed the match with another pull shot that resulted in three scampered runs.
Dhoni remained unbeaten on 44, along with Ashwin (1). McKay was the most successful Australian bowler, picking up three wickets, while Xavier Doherty also took two wickets with his left-arm spin.
India held their nerves to chase down a target of 270 with two balls to spare.
Chasing a competitive total, Virender Sehwag (20) and Gautam Gambhir (92) gave India a rousing start, hitting boundaries at will. Both batsmen played some exquisite cover drives as India reached 50 in the ninth over. But like so many occasions in the recent past, Sehwag departed when he tried to fetch a leg-sided delivery by McKay, only to balloon it and giving a simple catch to David Hussey at backward point.
Virat Kohli was the next to go, his dismissal the result of hitting too many good shots straight to fielders. He was caught at sweeper cover by Peter Forrest off McKay. Rohit Sharma replaced Kohli and got himself going with a few well-stolen singles. His first boundary, a six, was a fierce pull shot off Mitchell Starc. Meanwhile, Gambhir completed his half-century in 63 balls. But when things were looking good for India, Rohit threw his wicket away and gave Australia a chance to claw their way back.
Clearly perturbed by his partner's wicket, Gambhir too played some high-risk shots before he shuffled across the stumps and was adjudged lbw off McKay, his third wicket of the innings. As his wicket fell in the 34th over, Dhoni and Suresh Raina saw off the batting Powerplay, taking only 18 runs in those five overs.
Raina broke the shackles by hitting Doherty for a six in the mid-wicket region, and the two then concentrated on taking some quick singles and doubles till Raina was yorked by Doherty to leave India needing 31 runs off 23 balls. Ravindra Jadeja contributed 12, before leaving Ashwin to see India through along with Dhoni.
Earlier, India's bowlers had restricted the Australian scoring rate in the last ten overs, giving away just three boundaries in that period. Vinay Kumar and Umesh Yadav picked up two wickets each while Zaheer Khan got one. The other three Aussie batsmen were run out.
Australia changed their opening combination as Ricky Ponting started the innings in place of Matthew Wade, along with David Warner. Ponting looked out of sorts from the beginning, and Vinay provided India their first breakthrough when Ponting hit his swirling delivery into the hands of Kohli at backward point.
Michael Clarke looked in ominous touch as he raced to 25 in just 17 deliveries, hitting four crisp fours either side of the wicket. Warner's wicket after a terrible mix-up with Clarke put the brakes on the Australian scoring. Clarke then departed when Yadav, after bowling consistently around the 150 kph mark, bowled one of 121 kph, completely deceiving the Australian skipper, who chopped on while trying to fetch the ball from well outside off-stump.
Yadav was the pick of the Indian bowlers, but Forrest, who made his debut, used Umesh’s pace to register his first boundary in ODI cricket. The right-hander also looked extremely comfortable against the spinners, using his feet to both Jadeja and Ashwin, and he got to his maiden half-century in 70 deliveries.
At the other end, Hussey (72) made his intentions clear from the outset, stealing singles on a regular basis and hitting fours on loose deliveries. But Yadav returned to provide India the much-needed breakthrough when he had Forrest caught at the square-leg fence for 66. The wicket also ended the 98-run stand for the fourth wicket between Forrest and Hussey.
Daniel Christian (39) also took the attack to the Indians from the word go. But a terrific diving catch at square-leg by Sehwag sent Hussey back and then Christian ran himself out against the run of play as India pulled things back by bowling plenty of dot balls in the final overs.