In a strange and coincidental quirk of fate, India lost another ODI after posting 300-plus, which again included a fine century by Rohit Sharma. Gabba’s second ODI was pretty much like the one at WACA, where Rohit’s good work proved to be of no avail. Other similarities were; India winning the toss, choosing to bat first, Shikhar Dhawan getting out cheaply, Rohit reaching his century in the 37th over, Virat Kohli coming up with a good knock in an impressive partnership with Rohit, George Bailey producing another match-winning effort and Australia winning with six balls to spare instead of four at Perth. The finality was Australia not only won the Gabba game but also took a 2-0 lead in the 5-match series, before the teams travel to Melbourne for the third ODI on January 17.
The events unfolding in Brisbane’s second ODI were strikingly similar to those at Perth. Indian captain MS Dhoni won the toss again and elected to bat just as he did at Perth. The Gabba pitch was as friendly to batsmen as WACA’s but Shikhar Dhawan failed once again. He fell to a poor delivery from Australia’s new bowler Joel Paris, who was overjoyed to earn his maiden ODI wicket. Dhawan needlessly swung his bat to Paris’ off-side delivery and yielded an outside edge to a gleeful Matthew Wade. Virat Kohli joined Rohit Sharma and continued to build the innings just as they had done at Perth. Though Rohit and Kohli couldn’t exploit Mitchell Johnson’s absence and were needlessly bogged down against the inexperienced Paris and Scott Boland, they soon found their rhythm and settled down. When on 89, Rohit got lucky, when the umpire missed the sound of an edge to the keeper off Paris. Later, Kohli was unfortunately run out; when a bit of hesitation between him and Rohit resulted in his dismissal. That brought Ajinkya Rahane and the Mumbai man with IPL’s Mumbai Indians skipper got on with their jobs. Rohit and Rahane batted for the next 18.3 overs and added an invaluable 121 runs for the third wicket before Rohit’s innings came to a sad end. He drove a slow delivery wide off Faulkner, who smartly managed to deflect the ball to the stumps before the batsman could make his ground. Regardless, India had reached 255/2 and more than 7 overs remained. It was here that India faltered. Unlike more than 60 scored at Perth in last 5 overs, Indian batsmen committed errors and weakened themselves at Gabba in death overs. After Rohit’s departure, Dhoni played 10 balls for his 11 runs; Rahane holed out to deep mid-wicket; Manish Pandey fell to an ambitious lofted shot; another run-out claimed Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin top-edged to third-man. Something that looked good a short while back; was reduced to a failed and hurried effort that could only produce 308 runs as India lost 5 wickets in scoring their last 53 runs at an unhurried pace.
As Australia came out to chase the 309-run victory target with Aaron Finch and Shaun Marsh, they didn’t have an issue as India’s bowling lacked teeth. Finch and Marsh put on 145 for the first wicket before a brilliant field effort from Ajinkya Rahane ended Finch’s fine innings. 21 runs later, Ishant Sharma removed Shaun Marsh. It was now 199/2 in 30th over and at that rate; Australia looked in the driver’s seat. While the openers paced the chase to perfection, India were guilty of dropping some easy catches. Marsh could have gone at 19 but Ishant Sharma dropped a dolly. Like in Perth, Steven Smith and George Bailey made the mince-meat of Indian bowling and took Australia close to victory with their 78-run partnership. After Smith was bowled by Umesh Yadav, Bailey took over and steered Australia to a 7-wicket victory with his 58-ball 76 not out. For company, Bailey had Glenn Maxwell, who finished with an unbeaten 26 and also got the winning runs. Bailey punished Barinder Sran, who couldn’t emulate his Perth run. Bailey has now scored more than 500 runs against India and his average of nearly 96 runs is better than any other Australian. Rohit Sharma is India’s answer to Bailey in also scoring 500-plus runs against Australia and reaching an impressive average of close to 72. Rohit’s string of scores, in his last five ODI innings against Australia, reads 209, 138, 34, 171(not out) and 124.
In the end, India had another disappointing finish after a good start. They effectively lost in the last 10 overs, when 6 wickets fell for just 75 runs after Rohit, Kohli and Rahane had given them a great platform. Australia go to the MCG with a 2-0 lead and they would attempt to wrap up the series, while India will ponder on how they can fork out their first win of the series.