The bigger news than India managing to save the third test at Melbourne, was MS Dhoni’s sudden retirement from test cricket. His decision becomes effective immediately and Virat Kohli will lead India in the fourth and final test at Sydney. Australia needed a draw to win the Border-Gavaskar test series and India will go to the SCG merely to salvage some lost pride. India were in doldrums on the final day after Australia applied closure at 318/9 at the stroke of lunch. Shaun Marsh was the unlucky soul to miss his century by just one run as tried to steal a non-existent single. With a 384 run victory target to be achieved in two sessions of play, India found themselves facing another defeat, when they lost 3 wickets for just 19 runs. However, first innings’ heroes Rahane and Kohli came good once again and carried India to safety. Play was called off, four over ahead of schedule, when India had reached 174/6 with Dhoni batting on 24. Having already won the first two test matches at Adelaide and Brisbane, Australia wrested the series 2-0.
There was no inkling of Dhoni’s retirement immediately after the match as he himself didn’t mention it during the press conference following the match. Later, an official communiqué was released by Board of Control for Cricket in India, BCCI in which Dhoni cited the reasons of suffering the strain by playing all formats of cricket. Dhoni will, however, go down in history as India’s greatest Test captains, who led the country to achieve the no.1 in ranking in tests. The BCCI officials said that they respect Dhoni’s decision and thanked him for his laudable contribution. Though there was no clamor for his retirement, Dhoni’s test performance took a nose dive in 2014 as his average from 17 innings was just 33. For the past three years, India have lost 13 away-test matches out of 22 and won just 2. Regardless, no other Indian test captain has been as successful as Dhoni as he led India to 27 victories in 60 test matches. He took over as India’s full time captain after Anil Kumble retired in 2008. On the whole, Dhoni played 90 Tests since 2005 and scored 4876 runs at an average of 38. His highest score was 224 against Australia at Chennai in 2013 and as a wicketkeeper; he effected 294 dismissals, which is the fifth highest in test cricket.
[poll id=”2″] The day began with Australia going further from the overnight score of 261/7. Smith probably wanted a sizeable lead to avoid any undue risks. But the going was slow as Australia added only 19 runs in the first 10 overs and reached 300 only in the 92nd over. In the 95th over, Ashwin muffed a caught-and-bowled chance, when Marsh was 86. The batsman whacked Ashwin for 12 runs in the next three balls to reach 98. In the next over from Shami, Marsh reached 99 and came back to face Umesh Yadav’s next over. After playing 5 balls without scoring, Marsh pushed Yadav to Kohli and started for a run but Kohli was quick as he hit the stumps direct with Marsh miles away. A solid innings came to a tragic end. Soon afterwards, Australia declared at 318/9, leaving India to score 384 for victory.
The target was too stiff and India didn’t have the batting strength. They lost Shikhar Dhawan in the second over, when Harris had him plumb in front of the wicket. In the next over, Mitchell Johnson accounted for debutant Lokesh Rahul. The batsman charged at a short delivery and got a thick top edge and Shane Watson ran back to hold it. Rahul had an eminently forgettable debut. With India at 5/2, Kohli joined Murali Vijay but in the 9th over, it was 19/3 as Hazlewood swung one in sharply to Vijay, who missed the flick and took the ball on his pads. Rahane and Kohli tried to re-enact their first innings script and to a large extent, they succeeded. 85 were added in the next 26 overs but after keeping his composure for 99 balls, Kohli fell for 54 in trying to flick Ryan Harris straight into the hands of Joe Burns. Pujara and Rahane added 37 before Johnson produced a beautiful ball that sneaked through Pujara’s defenses. India were once again in dire straits with 19 overs yet to go. Skipper Dhoni came to the crease only to see Rahane departing one run later to make it 142/6. But Dhoni and Ashwin kept their instincts under check and except punishing the loose balls, forgot about scoring. They got a few edges but survived. After the 66th over with India at 174/6, the play was called off and the match ended in a draw.
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