Image courtesy of: The Indian Express
Bailey fell two agonising runs short of his second ODI century
Australia captain George Bailey and all-rounder Glenn Maxwell both narrowly missed out on centuries as the baggy greens posted a daunting total of 295 against India in the fourth ODI in Ranchi.
Just as the Indians started their chase, the heavens parted and the rain had the last laugh as the match was washed out, leaving Australia 2-1 in front with three ODIs to go.
India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss and chose to field first due to the overcast conditions.
India made two changes to their squad, the first being Mohammed Shami coming in for Bhuvneshwar Kumar and the second being Jaydev Unadkat replacing Ishant Sharma.
Dhoni’s decision to bowl first paid off immediately as Australia opening batsman Aaron Finch was clean bowled bowled by Shami for just five runs.
Finch’s opening partner, Phillip Hughes, found himself back in the pavilion soon after as he nicked a delivery to Dhoni behind the stumps to become Shami’s second victim of the match.
Shami picked up his third wicket in the eighth over as he cleaned up all-rounder Shane Watson for just 14 runs.
Adam Voges also failed to make a contribution as he was given out lbw off the bowling of spinner Ravichandran Ashwin for only seven runs.
With Australia struggling at 71/4, Bailey and Maxwell came to the rescue with a fabulous 153-run partnership, during which both batsmen registered their half-centuries, before Bailey missed out on his second ODI century by top-edging a delivery from Vinay Kumar straight into the hands of Rohit Sharma.
Bailey’s incredible knock of 98 came off 94 deliveries and included seven boundaries and three maximums.
Maxwell was dismissed in the very next over as he fell eight runs short of his maiden ODI century.
Maxwell’s outstanding innings of 92 came off just 77 balls and included seven boundaries and three sixes.
Some late fireworks from Mitchell Johnson, who scored 25, and James Faulkner, who smashed 23, propelled Australia to a mammoth total of 295 at the end of their 50 overs.
Shami was the pick of the Indian bowlers with three wickets, while Vinay Kumar and Ashwin snapped up two wickets apiece and Ravindra Jadeja chipped in with one.
Chasing 296 to win, India managed to score 27 runs off 4.1 overs before the heavens parted.
With the rain not looking like stopping any time soon, the umpires had to make the tough decision of calling off the match.
Bailey was extremely disappointed that the match had been abandoned as he believed it would have been another thrilling run-chase.
“Could have been a reasonably good game of cricket,” he said. “We snuck away with the bat, thanks to Maxwell’s innings. There was a little bit of swing and seam and he assessed the conditions well, especially considering he had to bat longer than he is normally used to. I was lucky with a few drops, but yeah, things went well with hte bat. We fancied our chances, with the pitch stiff giving a bit of seam and pace and Mitch was getting it to go. It’s obviously important to be in the lead in any series and hopefully we’ll get to Cuttack and get a good game in and get a win.”
Dhoni was just as disgruntled with the outcome of the match, but nonetheless praised Shami for his brilliant bowling figures.
“It depended on the first 15 overs, if we didn’t lose too many wickets the wicket would have become better to bat on,” he said. “Shami is deceptive. He bowls quicker that you think. What was important was he bowled full and the wickets he got, he was hitting the bails. And in the death he was getting the yorkers in pretty consistently. I know they will come back strong. At times it happens, some of the stadiums it is difficult to sight the ball. Well we have to find the right moment, with the fifth fielder inside, and the opposition looking to get over 300 and without much turn, Raina would have been a gamble. But this was the best game for him and he bowled well, knowing his limitations. The weather is not in our control. To some extent you are a bit disappointed, but whatever result it was we have to accept it. We wouldn’t have minded a 20 over game with the start we had and with the water on the field.”