Melbourne: Leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal’s heroics with the ball were complemented well by former skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s third consecutive half-century as he anchored India’s run chase to beat Australia by 7 wickets in the third ODI, and clinch their first ever bilateral series win here.
With the 2-1 One-Day International (ODI) series win, India have completed their tour Down Under without losing a series.
The Kohli-led men in blue had earlier registered a historic 2-1 win in the four-Test series while drawing the preceding three-match T20I rubber 1-1.
At the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on Friday, Australia paid the price for dropping the dangerous Dhoni on nought, as the veteran stumper, who has recently been at the receiving end of critics, came up with another defiant and calm half-century to guide the Indians home in style.
Promoted to No.4, Dhoni first raised a strong 54-run third wicket stand with skipper Virat Kohli (46) and thereafter took India home with an unbeaten 121-run stand with Kedar Jadhav (61 not out).
Dhoni’s unbeaten knock of 87 came off 114 balls and was studded with six hits to the fence.
After the departure of the in-form opening duo of Rohit Sharma (9) and Shikhar Dhawan (23) with the Indian scoreboard ticking 59/2, Kohli and Dhoni laid the foundation for the chase.
Fresh from a century in the second ODI at Adelaide, Kohli looked set for another trademark chase but after facing 62 balls and striking three fours, the India captain was caught behind off Jhye Richardson.
With India still needing 118 runs for a win, Dhoni carried on in the company of new man Jadhav and the highlight of their fourth wicket partnership was stealing the odd singles and converting them into twos.
The 37-year-old Dhoni, who was dropped first ball by Glenn Maxwell at backward point, made the most of the life as he battled cramps to eventually get to a hat-trick of half-centuries this series.
With the tourists needing 66 off the last 10 overs, Dhoni and Jadhav, who also got to a hardworking half-century, ensured there were no hiccups and went about their business as usual to eventually guide the team home.
Earlier, Australia’s vulnerability to quality leg-spin was exposed by Chahal, who returned with his second overseas fifer to help India restrict the hosts for a meagre 230.
Playing his first match of the series, Chahal wreaked havoc in the Australian line-up, returning a career-best 6/42 as the home batsmen seemed to have no clue about playing the leggie.
AUSTRALIA 230 (48.4 overs): A Carey (wk) c Kohli b Bhuvneshwar 5, A Finch lbw Bhuvneshwar 14, U Khawaja c & b Chahal 34, S Marsh st Dhoni b Chahal 39, P Handscomb lbw b Chahal 58, M Stoinis c Rohit b Chahal 10, G Maxwell c Bhuvneshwar b Shami 26, J Richardson c Kedar Jadhav b Chahal 16, A Zampa c Vijay Shankar b Chahal 8, P Siddle not out 10, B Stanlake b Shami 0. BOWLING: Kumar 8-1-28-2, Shami 9.4-0-47-2, Shankar 6-0-23-0, Jadhav 6-0-35-0, Jadeja 9-0-53-0, Chahal 10-0-42-6. INDIA 234/3 (49.2 overs): R Sharma c Shaun Marsh b Siddle 9, S Dhawan c & b Stoinis 23, V Kohli (c) c Carey b Richardson 46, MS Dhoni (wk) not out 87, K Jadhav not out 61. BOWLING: Richardson 10-1-27-1, Siddle 9-1-56-1, Stanlake 10-0-49-0, Maxwell 1-0-7-0, Zampa 10-0-34-0, Stoinis 9.2-0-60-1.
Gavaskar questions why no prize money for team India?
MELBOURNE: Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar lashed out at hosts Australia for not honouring the Indian team with any cash award after its historic ODI series triumph, saying the players deserve a share of the revenue they generate.
Man-of-the-match Yuzvendra Chahal and Man-of-the-series MS Dhoni were given USD 500 each for their performances in the post-match presentation. The players donated their prize money to a charity. “What is USD 500 and it’s a pity that the team has got only a trophy. They (organisers) earn so much money through broadcast rights. Why can’t they give good prize money to the players? After all, players are the sole reason for the sport getting huge money (from sponsors),” Gavaskar said on ‘Sony Six’.