Four centurions in the match as the hosts chase down 350 for second time in series and Bailey's classy 156 goes in vain.
Kohli and Dhawan prove ‘350 is next 280’ for India in run chase
Australia 350-6 (50 overs)
India 351-4 (49.3 overs)
Toss: India, chose to field
Australia: Bailey 156; Watson 102, Ashwin 2-64, Jadeja 2-68
India: Kohli 115, Dhawan 100, Rohit 79; Johnson 2-72
Man of the match: Virat Kohli (India)
India chased down another 350-plus score against Australia for the second time in the ongoing series leaving the India captain MS Dhoni wondering if 350 is the new par score in the one-day international format.
Powered by brisk centuries from Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli, India reached the daunting target of 351 in the last over with six wickets to spare in the sixth match of the seven-game series.
The possibility of India drawing level with the Aussies at 2-2 with two games washed out looked remote earlier, at Nagpur, when the Australia captain George Bailey led from the front with a massive 156 in commanding fashion.
However, India will now head to the decider in Bangalore with confidence.
India had chased down 359 in the second game, at Jaipur, and no one would have expected the world champions, even with their powerful stroke players, to do that again in the same month.
The fairly new partnership of Dhawan and the makeshift opener Rohit Sharma clicked again with a hundred-plus opening stand for the fourth time. They now average together a hundred every 3.2 innings for India. That is nearly half the mark set by the best opening pair – Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar, who were known for their prowess.
Even the Indian captain was left dazed. “We need to think if 350 is the new 280 or 300 in ODI cricket. Bowlers are trying their best but they still can’t contain the batsmen,” Dhoni said.
“Now we can break the game easily after 30 overs. We can chase anywhere around 170 to 180 in the last 20. Shikhar and Rohit batted really well. Shikhar was brilliant in his hundred but Rohit stuck it out to get the partnership with Shikhar.
“Virat was simply brilliant; they were attacking and he counterattacked. It was difficult for a new batsman to go out there and score,” said Dhoni, who reckoned that the Bangalore match would also be a high-scoring affair.
Bailey, who earlier became the highest scorer in a bilateral ODI series, was downcast. “It’s disappointing; Virat played an unbelievable knock. It was a beautiful wicket and the batters did a good job. But Virat just comes in and makes light work of it.
“We fought back well after the first wicket partnership and when a guy bats like that you can’t do much,” said Bailey, referring to Kohli, who was awarded the man-of-the-match for his unbeaten 115 off 66 balls.
Kohli, meanwhile, said the plan was for him to be the aggressor as Dhawan had started cramping by the time Rohit fell after a 178-run opening stand.
“I got going with couple of drives and the slog sweeps. I told Shikhar to play through and I would attack as he was suffering with cramps. I always like to analyse when a target is given. I like to play under lights.”
India’s plan to curb the run rate, after Australia elected to bad, was to use three spinners. But that did not work as Bailey went on to score the third-highest total for a captain, along with Shane Watson.
The latter was the fourth centurion of the match and made most of a reprieve on 25 when he was out caught off a no-ball delivery from Ravindra Jadeja.
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