Ashton Turner’s maiden fifty, Peter Handscomb’s maiden hundred and another good innings by Usman Khawaja were the highlights of Australia’s record chase against India in Mohali on Sunday.
Australia beat India by four wickets in the fourth ODI as they drew level in the five-match series. It was their best chase against India and fifth-best overall as they reached the massive target of 359 with 13 balls to spare.
Unheralded Ashton Turner remained unbeaten on 84 off just 43 balls as he took an experienced Indian attack to the cleaners with some unbelievable hitting. Playing only his second ODI, Turner hit an unbeaten 84 off 43 balls with five boundaries and as many six sixes. The partnership of 86 off 39 balls between Turner and Alex Carey became the turning point after Peter Handscomb and Usman Khawaja had set the platform with a 192-run third-wicket stand.
The big lad, who has been a designated finisher for Big Bash League side Perth Scorchers, showed his finishing skills against world’s best death bowler Jasprit Bumrah (3/63), hitting him for an effortless ramp shot.
The swagger with which he lofted Bhuvneshwar Kumar (1/67) over long-on and deep mid-wicket, earned him a few fans among the home crowd and the poor Indian fielding did help his cause with Kedar Jadhav and Shikhar Dhawan dropping sitters.
Turner used his big reach to hit those big sixes down the ground off Kuldeep and Chahal.
Khawaja (91 off 99 balls) and Handscomb (117 off 105 ) set the tone as they played Yuzvendra Chahal (1/64 in 10 overs) and Kuldeep Yadav (1/80 in 10 overs) with ease.
The duo kept Australia in the hunt taking 73 runs off Vijay Shankar (0/29 in 5 overs) and Kedar Jadhav (0/44)’s combined 10-over spell.
Australia rise after bad start
Australia got off to a bad start as they lost their captain Aaron Finch in the very first over. Buvneshwar Kumar rattled his stumps and dismissed him for a duck.
Shaun Marsh who came to bat at number three was also dismissed cheaply for six runs as Jasprit Bumrah bowled him through the gate reducing Australia to 17 for two.
Usman Khawaja and Peter Handscomb helped in stabilising the innings for Australia as they both stitched together a partnership of 192 runs.
Both Khawaja and Handscomb piled up the misery on the men in blue as they both kept chipping away at runs, striking boundaries at regular intervals.
India was looking desperate for wickets and once again Jasprit Bumrah came to India’s rescue as he dismissed Khawaja for 91 runs in the 34th over.
But, Handscomb kept on going on his merry way bringing up his first ODI century off just 92 deliveries.
Glenn Maxwell scored a quick fire 20 but he was trapped in front by Kuldeep Yadav to make the task a lot more challenging for the Aussies.
Handscomb was dismissed by Chahal after scoring magnificent innings of 117 runs.
But, Ashton Turner along with Alex Carrey stitched together a partnership of 86 runs to help ease Australia’s nerves and they reduced the target within Australia’s grasp. Carrey was dismissed for 21 runs but Turner ensured Australia’s victory by four wickets.
Shikhar Dhawan finds form, Rohit Sharma misses out on century
Batting first, India looked a completely different side with opening duo putting on 193 runs on arguably the flattest track on offer during the ongoing series.
While Dhawan got his 16th hundred in ODIs, vice-captain Rohit (95 off 92 balls) missed out on what could have been a very well-deserved 23rd hundred with Australian bowlers looking like lambs for slaughter.
Pat Cummins (5/70 in 10 overs) and Jhye Richardson (3/85 in 9 overs) shared the spoils but were taken to task by the Indian openers for their wayward bowling.
Dhawan, who last reached a three-figure mark against Pakistan in an Asia Cup match in September 2018, was in fluent touch from the onset, hitting 18 fours and three sixes.
It released the pressure on Rohit, who initially was watchful even as Dhawan went after the bowling.
With another opening slot hopeful KL Rahul inducted into the playing XI, the 33-year-old Dhawan finally looked to have been shaken out of his comfort zone and played like only he could.
On a ground where it all started with a dream Test debut back in 2013 against the same opposition, the southpaw decided to ease any worries that the team management had with regards to his form going into the World Cup.
With left-arm seamer Jason Behrendorff and premier speedster Pat Cummins feeding him on his legs, Dhawan got a flurry of boundaries inside the first six overs.
There is a saying about Dhawan that if he gets a cover drive in the initial overs, he is a difficult man to stop.
On a track, where the bowlers needed to pitch it further up, the Aussies bowled short and it helped Dhawan to muscle it through the mid-wicket region repeatedly.
Glenn Maxwell’s (0/61 in 8 overs) venom-less off-breaks were like cannon fodder for Dhawan, who deposited two half-trackers for maximum.
Rohit also gained in confidence as lofted Adam Zampa (1/57 in 10 overs) for a huge six.
Finch introduced himself but his friendly slow left-arm bowling was treated with contempt by Rohit.
He picked up Richardson’s slow bouncers and guided one behind square and pulled one in-front. However, in his bid to reach the three-figure mark with a six, he deposited the third one down deep mid-wicket’s throat with five to get for his hundred.
Dhawan continued to attack as he surpassed his previous best of 137 against South Africa at the MCG during the 2015 World Cup.
He looked good for a double hundred but was out trying to give Cummins the charge but the platform for a big score was set by then.
Sharma was dismissed for 95 runs by Jhye Richardson but Dhawan went on to score his 16th ODI ton and the opener was finally dismissed for 143 runs by Pat Cummins.
India lost regular wickets
After Dhawan’s dismissal, India kept on losing wickets at regular intervals as Cummins allowed the Aussies to come back in the match as he took another five-wicket haul in the series.
Rishabh Pant (36) and Vijay Shankar (26) played quickfire cameos, in the end, ensuring that the team is able to post 358 runs on the board.
Australia have levelled the five-match ODI series against India at 2-2 and there is everything to play for both the teams in the final ODI.
India will take on Australia in the fifth match of five-match series on Wednesday, March 13 at FerozShah Kotla Stadium, New Delhi.