Saturday, 23 January 2016

India Avoid Series Whitewash at SCG

India pinched 13 runs off the final over of the fifth and final one-day international against Australia at the SCG on Saturday night to avoid a series whitewash. The six-wicket victory – India’s first of the five-match series – ended Australia’s 18-game one-day international winning streak at home.

Man-of-the-match Manish Pandey was the hero for the visitors in just his fourth ODI, hitting a classy unbeaten 104 from 81 balls to guide India to a victory target of 331 with just two balls to spare. Mitch Marsh, whose 102 not out was vital in another big Australian total, bowled the fateful final over, which produced a dubious wide before MS Dhoni hit a low full-toss for six over long-off.

Dhoni then holed out to David Warner running in from long-off but Pandey stepped up with a glide to the third-man boundary that brought up his maiden ODI century and then he hit the next ball over mid-off for the winning runs. India finished at 331-4 to get home, but Australia won the series 4-1.

India set up the win thanks to a solid contributions from openers Rohit Sharma (99) and Shikhar Dhawan (78) who combined for an opening stand of 123. At one stage they were rollicking along at seven runs an over. But, like he did in the fourth match in Canberra, the re-introduction of John Hastings in the 19th over yielded instant dividends, sucking Dhawan into a big shot to a retreating Shaun Marsh in the deep. Marsh dived back to take a stunning catch at deep point that brought the crowd of just over 33,000 to life.

Hastings then claimed the crucial wicket of Virat Kohli for eight – easily his lowest score of the series. But Dhoni, who was dropped by Nathan Lyon, then combined with Pandey to get their innings back on track, ensuring the run rate didn’t get out of hand before eventually closing out the match.

The hosts had earlier reached 330-7 thanks to centuries from Warner (122) and Mitch Marsh. Warner was forced to dig in after watching four teammates – Aaron Finch (6), Steve Smith (28), George Bailey (6) and Shaun Marsh (7) – all trudge back to the pavilion before the 22nd over.

But the Test opener, together with Mitch Marsh, quickly set about rebuilding the Australian innings with a 118-run partnership before warner holed out off Ishant Sharma’s bowling in the 39th over. Warner finished with nine fours and three sixes in 113 balls – surpassing Greg Chappell in Australia’s top-20 one-day scorers in the process – to register his fifth ODI ton.

Marsh then put the foot down to record his maiden ODI century off just 84 balls with nine boundaries and two maximums. Indian debutant Jasprit Bumrah, who captured the prize wicket of Steve Smith with his awkward right-arm action, was the pick of the bowlers with 2-40.

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