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Kohli scores ton as India overhaul Australia’s 289

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Virat Kohli VisakhapatnamVirat Kohli’s third ODI century coupled with half centuries from Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina helped India to a five-wicket win over Australia in the Second ODI at Vizag. Chasing a high target of 290 on a slow pitch, India coasted to victory because of two successive big partnerships – 137 runs for the 3rd wicket between Kohli and Yuvraj followed up by the fourth wicket stand of 84 between Kohli and Raina. India got home with seven balls to spare with Suresh Raina taking care of the fireworks with a cracking 71* from just 47 balls with 9 fours and a six.

Australia’s new look bowling attack which was led by the little known Clint McKay wasn’t good enough to deliver victory for the visitors. The attack comprised of debutant quicks – Mitchell Stxarc and John Hastings who started off decently but couldn’t sustain the pressure on a consistent basis. The Indian batsmen had no real trouble as there were quite a lot of loose deliveries on offer.

India had a bad start in their chase slipping to 35 for 2 in 8.2 overs. Debutant Shikhar Dhawan was gone for a 2-ball duck after getting bowled through the bat pad gate by Clint McKay. Dhawan was like a statue in the crease hardly moving his feet across in a defensive shot. The other opener Murali Vijay (15 from 18 balls) impressed with three beautiful drives before edging his steer off McKay to the keeper. The Aussies were on top at this stage but the bowling attack lacked the teeth to put the lid on India.

Michael Clarke couldn’t find enough ideas to dislodge the third wicket pair of Virat Kohli and Yuvraj Singh. Though there were a few magic deliveries from the pacers and Nathan Hauritz, India had no trouble at all in the middle overs. Yuvraj eased himself to a 44th ODI fifty and just when he was looking to muscle the bowlers got foxed by a back of the hand slower one from McKay to get bowled in an attempted pull shot. Yuvraj was slightly slow in the run scoring getting his 58 from 87 balls with 5 fours. India got the launching pad at 172 for 3 in 33.4 overs when Yuvraj got dismissed.

Kohli continued to keep his end steady and with the arrival of Suresh Raina, there was no pressure of keeping up with the required run rate. Raina took the brave option of going over the top whenever he couldn’t keep his drive along the ground and he hit the gaps with near perfection. Kohli meanwhile worked his way to a 3rd ODI century besides cramping up severely. He got Shikhar Dhawan as a runner in the latter part of his knock. Virat Kohli’s neat innings came to an end in the 44th over when his flat hit off John Hastings found the man at long on. Kohli by then had scored 118 in 121 balls with 11 fours and a six and leaving India well placed at 256 for 4. This was good enough for him to get the Man of the Match.

Debutant John Hastings got one more wicket in the 44th over that of MS Dhoni (0 from 1 ball) to bring back Australia back in the game. Dhoni’s feet were stuck in the crease and he saw his off stump knocked out by one that kept low. There were no tremors after that as India cruised to victory with Suresh Raina playing well and the third powerplay keeping the fielders in the ring. Debutant Saurabh Tiwary scored the winning runs to stay unbeaten on 12 from 17 balls with Suresh Raina doing the tougher part of keeping the required run rate to the comfort levels.

Earlier in the afternoon, the toss was won by MS Dhoni and despite conditions being hot and humid decided to field first. Both sides gave debuts to two players each. The visitors had a dull start at 16 for 2 in the 8th over as the pitch wasn’t aiding the ball to come onto the bat. Nehra had got the first two wickets – Marsh bowled off the inside edge and Paine dragging a slog to mid on. India was doing good to restrict the Aussies to a below par total but the arrival of Michael Hussey changed everything!

The out-of-form Michael Clarke spent enough time to finally regain his touch and Michael Hussey was very busy to keep the scoreboard moving. The pair put up 144 runs for the third wicket before Hussey looking to pull a full delivery from Ashwin missed it to get lbw. He made 69 from 77 balls with 7 fours to take Australia to 160 for 3 in 36.3 overs. While Clarke got towards a 5th ODI hundred, new man Cameron White freed his arms to bludgeon an unbeaten 89 in just 49 balls with 6 fours and 6 sixes to power Australia to 289 for 3! The last five overs went for more than 80 runs! Michael Clarke remained unbeaten on 111 from 139 balls with 7 fours and a six. Though there was a good start from the opening bowlers – Praveen and Nehra, the remaining bowlers failed to maintain the tight grip to release the pressure on the Aussies.

Vinay Kumar suffered the most in the hands of White as he got picked up for 71 runs in 9 overs. Nehra whose first spell read 4-1-3-2 finished with 10-1-57-2! All the three pacers were bowling too many easy full tosses in the slog overs. The bright aspect was the spinners – Ashwin going for 34 in 9 overs and Yuvraj Singh giving 48 runs in his 10 overs.