By Priya Nagi In a win it and the trophy is theirs or lose it and there will be questions to answer, India have been set to chase a target of 273 by Australia in the fifth and final one-day international (ODI) match here at the national capital’s Feroz Shah Kotla ground on Wednesday.
Coming in after levelling the series in Mohali, confident Australia captain Aaron Finch and Usman Khawaja dimmed the faces of spectators with their regular boundaries after opting to bat first. The openers stitched a quick 50-run partnership in 9.3 overs, registering their third half-century stand in this series. Finch, who seemed to have settled in, was dismissed for 27 runs as the delivery produced by spinner Ravindra Jadeja made its way to beat the straight bat and smashed into the stumps.
Khawaja along with Peter Handscomb shrugged off the dent and took Australia to 100-run mark in 19.1 overs. Khawaja, who needed 134 runs to reach his 1000 ODI runs, was stopped soon after his second ton in the format. Pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar broke Australia’s 99-run stand for the second wicket as the left-handed opener was caught by India captain Virat Kohli in covers for 100 runs.
In the very next over, motivated by the praises from spectators, Kohli, extremely alert at extra cover, caught Glenn Maxwell for a mere one run. India got back-to-back wickets as Handscomb, who seemed established on 52 runs, was caught behind by wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant. With the innings well in control, India did not let another partnership blossom. First, Ashton Turner, who had stunned India in the fourth ODI, was caught by Jadeja for 20 runs. Next in the line, Marcus Stoinis was bowled by Bhuvneshwar for 20 runs.
Putting an end, to some extent, to his capabilities and comparison with MS Dhoni behind the stumps, Pant made no mistake and caught behind Alex Carey cheaply for three runs. Pat Cummins added quick 15 runs before getting caught and bowled by Bhuvneshwar. Smart fielding by Kohli helped Pant break the bails and run-out Jhye Richardson for 29 runs, leaving Nathan Lyon stranded on one run.
Australia posted 272/9 in their 50-over quota. For India, Bhuvneshwar returned with three wickets. Mohammed Shami and Jadeja picked up two wickets each, while Kuldeep got a piece. It is India’s final 50-over match before the coveted World Cup but as far as ODI cricket is concerned, for Kohli and his men, it is a decider as the series is tied at 2-2 and the result is going to reflect in the confidence level of both the teams. If India win, they will still consider themselves as the favorites. But if Australia do, it will be a big wake-up call for the hosts.
This is a pitch where the ball hardly moves, and it also keeps a little low. The dew is likely to kick later in the day though. There will be a little bit of spin but it is nothing that should worry the batsmen. (ANI)