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Finch fires Australia to win

By EMN Updated: Jan 18, 2015 9:51 pm

Melbourne, January 18

Rohit Sharma’s century for India proved in vain as Australia earned a four-wicket victory in the second match of the Carlton Mid ODI series, in Melbourne. Opener Sharma steered the tourists to 267-8 off 50 overs as Mitchell Starc returned 6-43 but it wasn’t enough as Aaron Finch struck 96 to help the hosts wrap up the win in 49 overs.
The win consolidates Australia’s position at the top of the tri-series table with nine points, while England and India – who meet on Tuesday – have lost each of their opening games.
Sharma’s century, which featured nine fours and four sixes off 139 balls, enabled India to recover from a shaky start after opting to bat.
Starc, who struck twice in the first over of Australia’s three-wicket victory over England, again made an immediate impact by having Shikhar Dhawan caught at slip for two.
Debutant paceman Gurinder Sandhu, born in Australia to Indian parents, then dismissed Ajinkya Rahane in his second over to make it 33-2 and India were in deeper trouble when Virat Kohli pulled James Faulkner to midwicket.
However, Sharma rallied to put on 126 runs in 22.1 overs for the fourth wicket with Suresh Raina, who made a measured 51 off 63 balls before picking out mid-on to give Starc his second scalp.
Sharma posted his sixth one-day international century when he ran Starc to third man for a single, reaching the landmark off 109 deliveries.
No other batsman made it past 20, though, left-armer Starc bowling MS Dhoni for 19 before trapping Akshar Patel lbw second ball.
The seamer picked up another brace of wickets in the penultimate over of the innings, claiming his fifth victim when Sharma mowed a full toss to midwicket before dismissing Sharma next ball.
Australia’s reply got off to a solid start as David Warner (24) put on 51 for the first wicket with Finch before falling to Umesh Yadav (2-55).
Shane Watson (41) struck five fours and a six and skipper Steve Smith contributed a further 47 off 52 balls as the home side kept pace with the rate.
Finch and Smith brought up their hundred partnership up off 97 balls before the captain fell trying to swat Mohammad Shami’s slower-ball bouncer over midwicket.
From 216-2, Australia slipped to 230-5 as Finch edged Yadav behind to follow Smith back and Dhoni took a smart leg-side catch standing up to remove George Bailey.
Glenn Maxwell (20) sought to take the attack to India but when he fell Australia still needed 20 off 21 balls, Bhuvneshwar Kumar completing a wicket maiden to further raise the tension.
But Brad Haddin (13no) and Faulkner (nine no) held their nerve to see Australia to victory with an over to spare to underline the depth of their side’s batting order.

MS Dhoni still silent on reason for Test retirement

A persistent lady journalist from Australia asked India’s ODI skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, not once but twice, to explain his decision to retire from Test cricket.
He was facing the media for the second time after his retirement from the longer format of the game. Not that the Indian media persons did not have the inclination to ask the question. It is only that they knew what the response was going to be and it would have been a waste of time and effort.
Dhoni’s expected reply was: “I have nothing to add on the issue to what has been said in the press note issued by the BCCI on my retirement.”
When the lady popped the question again at the end of the media briefing, Dhoni muttered, “Yes, it is your right to ask questions. But it is my decision whether to answer (or not).”
Those were his closing lines as he walked out of the conference room. Not in disgust, but because the briefing was officially over.
It has now been over a fortnight since Dhoni decided to retire from Test cricket, but he has not uttered a word on the issue. And when he was asked the question today, he did not show any discomfort.
He simply does not want to make public the reasons behind his sudden decision and it is very unlikely that much will be heard on the issue from him in the near-future.
Luckily, the probing Aussie and British media was on its way from Sydney after covering Friday’s match there. So they could not make it to the MCG in time for the press meet to bombard him with questions.
They had to make do with a sedate James Faulkner, who talked to the media at the Melbourne airport on arrival from Sydney!
Surely, it is not the last time Dhoni will be pestered on the issue. But knowing his nature, it is certain he will stick to his decision to keep mum. Maybe, if he lifts the World Cup here on March 29, he may have a something to say on the issue.

Starc praises collective effort in Australia triumph

Mitchell Starc was in record-breaking form at the MCG on Sunday, but hailed Australia’s team effort after a tri-series victory over India.
Man of the Match Mitchell Starc was thrilled to contribute to Australia’s four-wicket one-day international win over India, but refused to take all the plaudits for the victory.
The pace bowler recorded figures of 6-43 in Sunday’s contest, the best by an Australian at the MCG in ODIs, as India reached 267-8 thanks largely to Rohit Sharma’s 138.
Aaron Finch duly picked up the mantle from Starc with a fine knock of 96, as Australia reached their target with six balls remaining, eventually posting 269-6.
Starc also starred in the tri-series opening victory against England on Friday, but he was keen to acknowledge the collective effort.
“The ball is coming out well and Australia are winning, can’t ask for any more,” he said. “I got some swing early on, then the ball started to reverse, I was happy to get a few key wickets. [But] all the bowlers did a great job. Rohit was excellent with the bat, but [James] Faulkner did it again. He has done it twice in three nights for us.”
Captain George Bailey felt Finch was unlucky not to make a century and felt Australia still have room for improvement.
“We could have been slightly better, but it was a good performance,” Bailey said. “We had a couple of good partnerships, especially between [Steve] Smith and Finch. I think Finchy deserved a hundred. Finchy has been in very good touch, he found it hard tonight but he battled it out.”
India skipper MS Dhoni was not too despondent about the defeat and believes it is more important for the team to focus on game plans with the Cricket World Cup on the horizon.
“We lost a few early wickets, but Rohit batted well to give us more than 250,” he said. “We bowled too short and started bowling well only after the 35th over. I told them not to worry about the result of the match, but to focus on executing the plans.”
“A lot depends on conditions, especially with drop-in wickets, it will act in a different way.”

By EMN Updated: Jan 18, 2015 9:51:18 pm