Fan-tastic: Reece Moulden and Nick Forester both of Bega at Manuka Oval in Canberra to see Australia take on India. Photo: Melissa AdamsHow the game unfoldedUmpire retires hurt after being hit by Finch driveManuka turns on another cracker
John Hastings may be built like a superhero, but he’s hardly the first person the Australian cricket team turns to in a time of crisis.
But that’s exactly what the rejuvenated Victorian delivered after kick-starting a remarkable Indian collapse in Wednesday’s 25-run win at Manuka Oval.
Cruising at 1-277 chasing Australia’s 8-348 with Shikhar Dhawan (126 off 113 balls) and Kohli (106 off 92) untroubled, the Indians looked to set to win in a canter before they lost 9-46 in an extraordinary collapse.
The pair shared a 212-run partnership for the second wicket and required less than a run a ball before John Hastings claimed the wickets of Dhawan and MS Dhoni (0) with the score on 277.
It triggered a flurry of ill-disciplined and reckless strokes from India as they threw away what would have been their first win of the series.
Kane Richardson joined the party with 5-68, including the key wicket of Kohli, who spooned a catch to Smith at mid-on just after Dhawan’s departure.
Without injured headliners Mitchell Starc and James Pattinson and with Josh Hazlewood rested, Hastings and Richardson executed one of the great escapes in recent ODI memory.
Richardson was named man-of-the-match, but he gave plenty of credit to Hastings’ double strike for turning the match on its head.
“We kept telling ourselves we just had to get one of those two out and for John to get Shikhar and then MS within a few balls changed momentum,” he said.
“I think that was a key moment in the game and we he deserves a lot of credit. [Taking] 2-50 on that wicket is a hell of an effort, the last two games he’s really led the attack well. At one stage it looked like we were going to lose in 40 overs, to be honest.”
Having lost the first three games of the five-game series, India had victory at its mercy, and would have eclipsed the previous highest successful run chase in Australia. Australia made 8-334 to chase down England at Sydney in 2011.
The Australians had successfully chased down big scores in the first three games of the series to take an unassailable lead.
Despite this, skipper Steve Smith opted to bat first after winning the toss and it seemed the right move when David Warner (93 off 91) and Finch (107 off 107) posted a 187-run opening stand in just 177 balls.
Smith continued the momentum with 51 off 27 before he top-edged a shot to fine leg off Ishant Sharma.
Fresh from his superb match-winning 96 in Melbourne on Sunday, Glenn Maxwell (41 off 19) finished the innings with some brilliant innovative stroke-play, including 18 off the last over of the innings from Sharma.
In reply, India raced to 100 off just 74 balls and virtually had the match in its keeping when it reached 150 in the 20th over for the loss of only one wicket, Rohit Sharma for an entertaining 41 off 25.
It will go down as the biggest choke possible when a team is chasing almost 350.
India’s bowlers have been guilty of not stepping up this tour, but this time around it will be the batsmen who will put their hand up and take full blame.
Recalled after Hazlewood was rested, Hastings has surely now booked his place in the one-day games in New Zealand next month after he also bagged four wickets in the win at Melbourne on Sunday.
Richardson said the turnaround gave Australia belief it could win without its spearheads.
“We’re missing a lot of quality bowlers but it’s an opportunity for myself and John in the squad,” he said.
“We’re still finding our way in the game and Hastings the last two games, I can’t speak highly enough of how he’s going.
“I had 1-50 off six [overs], the momentum changed with that [Hastings] over and I was lucky to come on after he bowled.
“Someone needed to take the ball and grab the momentum he created, I was lucky enough to do that today.”
Indian skipper Dhoni took full responsibility for failing to steer the side home, insisting it’s his role in the team.
But he backed his team to recover from another loss.
“After the first three losses people were saying it’s going to be difficult to come back but in this game I thought we batted really well,” he said.
“It also gives a glimpse of what you’ll see in the Twenty20s – a lot of flamboyant cricket.
“We’re disappointed but you have to take the positives, if we batted better after the 35th over we could have won in the 45th or 46th over. You can’t get caught in the negatives.”
Offspinner Nathan Lyon’s return to the ODI line-up after 14 months proved one to forget, Smith’s decision to open the innings backfiring as he leaked 1-76 off 10 overs.
The series concludes at Sydney on Saturday.