MOHALI: Chances are high that before Sunday’s fourth ODI, even the most committed of Indian cricket fans would have not known Ashton Turner. The Western Australian had made a name for himself as a finisher for Perth Scorchers in the Big Bash League this season before making debut in the 50-over format in the first match of this series in Hyderabad. After that, he had gone back to being a non-entity at this level.
In about a mere hour at the middle during which he faced 43 balls, the 26-year-old became a head-turner. Nobody at the chock-a-bloc IS Bindra Stadium, perhaps including the Indian team, gave Australia a chance when they started the chase of 359. It is difficult to say how confident of forcing a decider the Australians themselves were, after losing Aaron Finch and Shaun Marsh by the fourth over. All possible indices pointed towards bhangra — the favourite folk dance of the region — in the stands as the night grew older.
But then, cricket has seen forecasts go woefully wrong in recent times. In West Indies vs England, Sri Lanka vs South Africa, Test cricket witnessed some chilling surprises of late. What Australia achieved was in the shorter format and it was just one match rather than a series win. Even then, the visitors will celebrate for as long as time permits before the fifth match in New Delhi on Wednesday. For a depleted team low on confidence and resources, this win was as huge as the target of 359 they overhauled. It was the second highest successful chase on Indian soil. With due respect to the efforts of Peter Handscomb and Usman Khawaja who kept their team in the game, the biggest scar on India’s proud recent record was left by Turner’s sensational onslaught.
Most of his big shots were struck down the ground and the cracking sound of bat hitting ball repeatedly silenced the crowd. As if to show he can hit it to all corners, Turner also scooped Jasprit Bumrah for a scarcely believable six. Due to his relentless hammering which produced 84 with the help of eight fours and five sixes, the asking rate dipped below six towards the end, after having soared above 10 at one stage. Turner started by lifting the spinners between long-on and long-off and most of these shots landed in the stands. The miscued shot India expected never came and the right-hander started timing it better as the target came closer. What appeared impossible was done with 13 balls to spare.
Overlooking dew factor
India’s task was made tougher by dew. Spinners Yuzvendra Chahal (1/80) and Kuldeep Yadav (1/64) struggled to grip the ball and the pacers found it difficult to control in the later stages. “Credit to Turner, but it wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the dew. We had it under control until about 35 overs, before conditions started becoming difficult for bowlers. We didn’t expect the dew,” said Shikhar Dhawan, whose 115-ball 143 was the bedrock of India’s huge total.
Handscomb, too, acknowledged the dew factor, saying that it made batting easier towards the end. “Nobody moved in the dressing room (when Turner got going). Superstitions took over,” revealed the batsman who made his maiden ODI ton.But to say that one didn’t expect dew was perhaps being a touch too naive. Teams do extensive homework these days and it would have taken just a chat with local authorities to find out how conditions are in the evenings in these parts. In spite of that, choosing to bowl second was a surprising call.
There was also a high percentage of bad deliveries, made to look worse by ordinary fielding. There were wides, full tosses, dropped catches and two missed stumpings. And in general, the intensity seen in this team in recent times was missing. The sum total of all this dented the pride this team takes in having a potent attack. They have just one match to prove Sunday was a bad day.
India: Rohit c Handscomb b Richardson 95, Dhawan b Cummins 143, Rahul c Carey b Zampa 26, Kohli c Carey b Richardson 7, Pant c Finch b Cummins 36, Jadhav c Richardson b Cummins 10, Vijay c Maxwell b Cummins 26, Kumar c Carey b Richardson 1, Kuldeep (not out) 1, Chahal c & b Cummins 0, Bumrah (not out) 6. Extras (b1, lb1, w5) 7, Total (9 wkts, 50 ovs) 358.
FoW: 1-193, 2-254, 3-266, 4-296, 5-314, 6-331, 7-344, 8-351, 9-352.
Bowling: Cummins 10-0-70-5, Behrendorff 10-1-61-0, Richardson 9-0-85-3, Maxwell 8-1-61-0, Zampa 10-0-57-1, Finch 3-0-22-0.
Australia: Finch b Kumar 0, Khawaja c Kuldeep b Bumrah 91, Marsh b Bumrah 6, Handscomb c Rahul b Chahal 117, Maxwell lbw Kuldeep 23, Turner (not out) 84, Carey c Dhawan b Bumrah 21, Richardson (not out) 0. Extras (b4, lb, w5) 17, Total (6 wkts, 47.5 ovs) 359.
FoW: 3-1, 12-2, 204-3, 229-4, 271-5, 357-6.
Bowling: Kumar 9-0-67-1, Bumrah 8.5-0-63-3, Shankar 5-0-29-0, Kuldeep 10-0-64-1, Jadhav 5-0-44-0, Chahal 10-0-80-1.