Peter Handscomb top-scored with 117 as Australia beat India by four wickets to level the series at 2-2 in the fourth one-day international in Mohali on Sunday.
Ashton Turner hit an unbeaten 84 to anchor Australia’s 359-run chase as they achieved the target with 13 balls to spare and take the five-match series into the final ODI in Delhi on Wednesday.
A second-wicket partnership between Handscomb, who registered his maiden ODI ton, and Usman Khawaja, who made 91, was key to Australia´s best ever ODI chase against India.
In pursuit of 359, Australia were off to a poor start. Skipper Aaron Finch had returned to form with a 99-ball 93 at Ranchi but failed, once again falling to Bhuvneshwar Kumar. The Indian pacer’s in-swinger rattled the Australian’s stumps to give India an early breakthrough. Shaun Marsh followed suit who was dismissed off Jasprit Bumrah by a peach off a yorker.
The onus fell on Khawaja and Handscomb. At 12 for 2, many would have ruled out an Australian comeback. However, the duo were given some freebies on the pads and allowed to settle with Kedar Jadhav and Vijay Shankar bowling in tandem. In addition, the wrist spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal found it difficult to control the ball with dew settling in. As a result, Khawaja-Handscomb stormed ahead and pushed the innings forward with the odd boundaries and without taking many risks.
When both players were on course for their respective hundreds, Bumrah removed Khawaja with a timely bouncer. The game was wide open from thereon. Maxwell came and showed his intentions from the word go. He took on Chahal for some runs but fell against the run of play to Kuldeep. Handscomb carried from his end to slam his maiden ton in the format.
On 117, Handscomb lofted one in the air to be caught by KL Rahul off Chahal. Australia’s hopes were dented at that time but found a new hero in Ashton Turner. With dew helping Aussies’ cause, Turner made full use of the opportunity and timed his innings calculatively.
Turner not only hammered the spinners but took on Bhuvi and Bumrah with his cheeky strokes. By virtue of this victory, Australia maintain their solid record at Mohali with 6 wins and 1 defeat.
Earlier, Electing to bat first, Indian openers Rohit and Dhawan laid the foundation with a superb 193-run stand. Shikhar Dhawan came roaring back to form with a 115-ball 143 that became the base for India’s dominance in the first innings. However, Australia did well to pull things back in the last seven overs, taking five wickets and conceding just 62 runs.
Vijay Shankar’s cameo at the end is what pushed India beyond the 350-run mark. Dhawan and Rohit Sharma’s position at the top of the order was slowly starting to come under a cloud of doubt due to the pair’s recent run of low scores.
They, proved the naysayers wrong by smashing a 193-run opening stand. Both players were in their 90s when Rohit was dismissed. Dhawan, however, carried on and crossed over into the three-digit area. He went on to flog the Australian bowlers for 18 balls after that before falling to Cummins.
Cummins was to be the scourge of the Indian batsmen throughout the innings after than as he ended up a five-wicket haul.
The fifth and final encounter, a series decider now, will be played at Feroz Shah Kotla, New Delhi on March 13.
India – 358/9 (Dhawan 143, Rohit 95, Cummins 5/70)
Australia – 359/6 (Handscomb 117, Khawaja 91, Turner 84*, Bumrah 3/63)