Yuzvendra Chahal: This was Yuzvendra Chahal’s game of the tour, and he ended with career-best figures of 6/42. In fact, these are the best bowling figures for an Indian in an ODI in Australia, tied with Ajit Agarkar, who also performed the feat at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in 2004. Chahal’s first wicket was that of Shaun Marsh who at that point looked set for another big innings. Two balls later, he accounted for the wicket of Usman Khawaja. He then dismissed Marcus Stoinis in the 30th over before being taken off temporarily. He then broke the 45-run stand between Jhye Richardson and Peter Handscomb, taking the former’s wicket. His final two wickets were those of Handscomb and Adam Zampa. No surprise then that Chahal was picked as Man of the Match.
Australia’s dropped catches: With the first dropped catch of the day, the hosts gave Virat Kohli a lifeline. The Indian captain had edged it towards Handscomb at slip. The ball was above Handscomb’s head and he reached for it, but the ball slipped through his hands and went for four. Kohli, though, went on to be dismissed on 46. The second dropped catch was much costlier. MS Dhoni was dropped off the very first ball he faced by none other than Glenn Maxwell. It was a sitter, with Dhoni hitting it straight to Maxwell but somehow, it didn’t stick. The Indian wicketkeeper was dropped later in the innings by Australian captain Aaron Finch, but it would have been a contender for the catch of the series if it had stuck. Dhoni had hit it as hard as he could towards mid-off and Finch dove to his right, but could only stop the ball from running to the boundary. Dhoni went on to hit a match-winning 87 not out, which brings us to the next point.
Dhoni at no. 4: Rohit Sharma had said that he would prefer seeing the former captain come in at number four. The team chose to send him in early today, and it paid off. Dhoni walked in when Shikhar Dhawan was dismissed in the 17th over and controlled the game, slowing it down and speeding up whenever he felt the need. He got to his third fifty of the series, and it looked like he and Kohli would take the game away from Australia, but then the Indian captain was dismissed. But it didn’t matter, as Dhoni found another capable partner in Kedar Jadhav. The pair continued to calmly keep the scoreboard ticking, before smashing 44 runs in 25 balls after the 45th over.
Finch’s form: “I still feel I’m a very good player. I think 13 international hundreds suggest that I do know what is required,” said Aaron Finch, before the match. The last time we saw a typical innings from him was in July 2018, when he smashed 172 off 76 balls in a T20 game against Zimbabwe. He then went on to score a half-century against Pakistan in his Test debut and things were looking up, until he started the India series. He had a Test series to forget and in the ODIs, he became Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s bunny. Finch’s schedule has been unrelenting over the past year and he admitted that he needs a break, but he won’t get it before April. If Australia hope to make an impact in the upcoming World Cup, a fit and firing Finch will be a necessity.
All India’s changes come good: Yuzvendra Chahal, Vijay Shankar and Kedar Jadhav were the three additions to the Indian team for this match. Shankar was useful in the six overs that he bowled, while Chahal equalled a record. Kedar Jadhav replaced Virat Kohli after the latter’s dismissal and stood firm with Dhoni, hitting the winning runs for India.
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