Australia v India, 2nd ODI, Brisbane January 15, 2016 Another Rohit ton, another Australia win


In the first ODI in Perth, India batted first, Rohit Sharma scored a century, and Australia were set 310 for victory. In the second ODI in Brisbane, India batted first, Rohit Sharma scored a century, and Australia were set 309 for victory. In Perth, Australia won with four balls to spare. In Brisbane, Australia won with six balls to spare. In both cases, and both chases, George Bailey was key. It was expected that the Gabba would serve up something similar to the WACA, but not this similar.

The end result was that Australia have a 2-0 lead and in Melbourne on Sunday they have the chance to wrap a series win with two to play. Perhaps at the MCG the teams will mix things up a bit. Not that everything in Brisbane was the same as Perth. Australia were 2 for 21 in the first game after their openers both fell cheaply; in the second game, Aaron Finch and Shaun Marsh put on 145 for the opening stand to set up the chase.

But on neither occasion did India truly make the most of the chance to bat first in good conditions. Harsh as it is to criticise 300-plus scores, in both matches they had such strong platforms that totals in the 350 range seemed feasible. Instead, Rohit's hundreds have both gone in vain. And India's streak of completed games against Australia in Australia without a win now stretches to 10, across all formats.

Once again Australia paced their pursuit to perfection. Never did their required run rate get near eight an over, and for much of the innings it hovered around six. A run a ball is very gettable for a team that can keep wickets in hand, and India's bowlers were unable to create enough chances to prevent Australia from doing that. Not that they grabbed every opportunity; Ishant Sharma dropped a sitter when Marsh was on 19, and a straightforward run-out chance also went begging.

Marsh and Finch continued their strong association at the top of the order, albeit only temporary for the time being while David Warner is on paternity leave. With a five-innings minimum, no Australian ODI opening partnership has a better average than the 75.42 that Marsh and Finch average for their stands. It took a magnificent catch to end the partnership, when Finch on 71 lifted Ravindra Jadeja to long-off and Ajinkya Rahane snared it low to the ground.

Five overs later, Marsh also fell for 71 when his leading edge lobbed up and was caught by Virat Kohli at cover, giving Ishant his first ODI wicket since 2014. But Bailey and Steven Smith had taken the match out of India's hands in Perth, and again they did so in Brisbane. Their 78-run stand steadied Australia's chase and although Smith was bowled by Umesh Yadav for 46, with nearly ten overs remaining, Bailey steered the chase home.

Glenn Maxwell finished on 26 and hit the winning runs, but Bailey's 76 not out from 58 balls was the difference. He lifted his tempo just when Australia needed him to, and brought up his fifty from his 41st delivery by crunching Barinder Sran over long-off for his only six. Bailey's record against India only continues to improve: with a 500-run minimum, nobody in ODI history has a better average against India than Bailey's 95.85.

Rohit holds the same record against Australia: with a 500-run minimum, nobody in ODI history has a better average against Australia than Rohit's 71.93. In his past five innings against Australia, Rohit has scored 209, 138, 34, 171* and now 124. Australia were fortunate that the one failure amongst those innings came in the World Cup semi-final, when he was bowled by Mitchell Johnson.

There is no Johnson now, and an inexperienced attack featuring Joel Paris, Scott Boland, Kane Richardson, John Hastings and James Faulkner struggled to contain Rohit at the Gabba. It was a stroke of luck for Australia that finally ended Rohit's innings, when Rahane's straight drive clipped the fingers of the bowler Faulkner and ricocheted back onto the stumps with Rohit out of his crease, backing up.

The Australians would argue they should have had Rohit on 89, when he the umpire failed to detect an edge behind off Paris, but by then he had already set India's innings up nicely. But this was not simply the Rohit show. As in Perth, Kohli provided strong support with a half-century after opener Shikhar Dhawan fell in single figures, but this time Rahane, who had not been required to bat at the WACA, was the other key man.

Rahane joined Rohit in the 24th over and they combined for a 121-run third-wicket stand that only ended with Rohit's run-out. Rahane fell short of a century himself, caught for 89 off 80 deliveries when he skied a Faulkner slower ball to deep midwicket in the 49th over. It was one of four wickets that fell in the last two overs: Manish Pandey also skied a catch off a Faulkner legcutter for 6, then R Ashwin was caught trying to ramp Hastings in the last over for 1, and Jadeja was run out last ball.

It was a disappointing finish for India, and the last ten overs had brought just 75 runs for the loss of six wickets. It was a period that arguably lost India the match after their strong start. As in the first game, Dhawan fell cheaply - this time he edged behind for 6 to give Paris his first ODI wicket - but again Kohli and Rohit put on an excellent display of rebuilding. Their 125-run stand ticked the score along with ease and little risk; Kohli cruised to his half-century from 60 deliveries.

Australia's bowlers looked about as likely to strike as lightning, and it took an electric throw from Richardson at deep fine leg to break the partnership when Kohli was run out for 59. Rahane proved a more than adequate replacement, and another century stand again was ended by a run out. Rohit struck 11 fours and only two came in front of the wicket, although he also cleared the boundary three times with ease.

His century came up from his 112th delivery - as in Perth, it came in the 37th over of the innings - and India looked well set with 10 overs to go, at 2 for 233. But Rohit was run out, MS Dhoni was caught in the deep for 11 to give Boland his first ODI wicket, and Australia's bowlers used their variations well. By the end of India's innings it looked like Perth all over again, and by the end of Australia's the similarities were even more striking.
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