For once, India did not lose. With literally no penetration in their bowling attack and woeful lack of batting confidence, India have lately become an easy meat for the opposition. Therefore, if they escaped another defeat at the SCG on Monday, they should consider themselves lucky. The credit for saving India against the mighty Australians rested on heavens, who ensured that match no.5 of the Carlton Mid ODI Tri-Series end in a wash out. The two points that India got from the game can work to their advantage if they could defeat England in the last match in two days’ time. Usually, the rains are the biggest spoilsports in cricket tournaments but in India’s case yesterday, the soaked pitch helped them advantageously. George Bailey came back to lead Australia after serving a regulatory suspension and won the toss. Heavily overcast conditions dictated Bailey’s decision of putting India in to bat first. But the match had to be abandoned after 16 overs in India’s curtailed innings.
Before the match started, it became known that India would play Ishant Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja in the match. The two players were nursing one injury or another and team management would have wanted them to have some useful practice with an eye on the upcoming World Cup. Rohit Sharma, however, couldn’t recover from his sore hamstring. Australia also made some changes and included Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Marsh, left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty and David Warner.
India began with Shikhar Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane but when the score reached 6/0 after 2.4 over, it started drizzling once again. The players ran off to their dressing rooms and covers were brought. After about an hour, when the rain stopped, it was announced that the match will have 44 overs each. As per other conditions; a bowler would be allowed a maximum of 9 overs, first power-play for nine overs and second for four overs. Of the first ball of the 7th over, Dhawan produced the replay of his earlier dismissals in Australia. When Mitchell Starc bowled a length just outside the off, Dhawan remained rooted to the crease and dabbed at the ball in the way of allowing some catching practice to a slip fielder, which happened to be Aaron Finch, who didn’t disappoint the fielding coach Mr S Dhawan. Staying for 24 minutes and playing 13 balls, Dhawan scored just 8 at 61.53. Ambati Rayudu came next but looked decided uncomfortable. However, he and Rahane added 38 for the second wicket. When Rayudu was 23 off 24 balls, he came down the track to lift a ball from Mitchell Marsh out of the ground. It was a rash stroke under the circumstances and Rayudu only got a huge top-edge. As the ball flew far away on the deep cover sky, Warner ran back from his position at short cover towards the swirling object that was still floating. Judging perfectly, even as the ball was still behind him, Warner covered enormous ground and just managed to stand under it, when it came down. Behind him, Indian fans were making a raucous noise but Warner pulled off a sensational catch and then looked with utter scorn towards the now silent crowd.
That was 62/2 for India and Virat Kohli had joined Rahane. The two batsmen played 19 balls more in adding 7 to the score. At 69/2 after the 16th over, it began raining yet again. The players, umpires, officials and the remaining spectators waited but at 8 PM, it was announced that no further play would be possible. By escaping defeat and being awarded 2 points, India saved themselves. If they had lost, India would have not secured the final berth merely by beating England. That could have come only by meeting two other conditions. First, the victory needed to be comprehensive for a bonus point yield and two; the net-run rate had to be better than England’s. Now however, it would be like a semifinal and whoever wins, goes to the final since India has 2 points to England’s 5. That match will be played at Perth on Friday.