The next ball was a high full toss that Dhoni swung to deep midwicket, but the no-ball – called for height – gifted India a third run in addition to the two scampered between the wickets. The next delivery was helped around to backward square leg, and the final three runs were collected to take India alongside Australia on two wins from three matches.
India’s chase was anchored by Gautam Gambhir’s fluent 92, before Dhoni and Suresh Raina took the visitors close with a stand of 61. Raina perished in the 47th over and Ravindra Jadeja followed in the 49th, but Dhoni remained to collar the remaining runs. Test match difficulties notwithstanding, he remains the master technician in limited-overs matches.
Australia’s fielding display was its least attentive of the Michael Clarke era. Only one catch of note went down but outfield fumbles were legion, and both Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja could have been run-out in the closing stages had in-fielders held their nerve.
Of even greater concern was an apparent hamstring twinge for Michael Clarke, who was running gingerly from the innings’ midpoint and hobbling noticeably by the end, having left the field briefly for treatment. Clarke may now be due a spell of rest after an unbroken sequence of Tests and ODIs dating back to his first tour as captain – to Bangladesh in April 2011.
Until the final over, McKay provided the most lasting threat for the home attack, maintaining a disciplined line and changing his pace, while Xavier Doherty bowled some particularly nagging deliveries at the death to make India work for the points.
Looking very much at home in international company, the debutant Peter Forrest had built Australia’s total alongside David Hussey after the innings was in danger of stalling at 3 for 81. Clarke’s fluent 38 had ended when he sallied forth to attack Umesh Yadav and dragged a slower ball wretchedly onto the stumps.
Forrest was strong square of the wicket and down the ground, while Hussey’s innings was another reminder of his usefulness in most limited-overs contests. Following their departure, allrounder Daniel Christian put together a handy closing contribution at the home ground of his adopted state. Few boundaries were collected in the closing overs, reflecting some diligent bowling but also the slowing of an otherwise friendly batting surface.
Yadav and Zaheer Khan were the most effective of India’s bowlers, attacking the stumps while also keeping the runs down, as the tourists sought a manageable target after the selectors chose to rest Sachin Tendulkar.