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Two meetings simultaneously commenced on the Mohali field, at the end of the 45th over of the chase. Behind the stumps, MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli put their heads together and in front of it, Adam Voges summoned James Faulkner for a chat. One didn’t have to tune in to the stump mike to know that discussions revolved around just how to score (Aussies) or defend (Indians) 66 runs from the remaining 30 balls.
Dhoni reintroduced R Vinay Kumar, the best Indian bowler on show until then, into the attack. Vinay had dismissed both Phil Hughes and George Bailey — the two top scorers for Australia from the Jaipur game — just when they were beginning to look dangerous, on 22 and 43 respectively. And in seven overs, he had gone for just 3.86 runs per over.
Vinay said a prayer and charged in. Two boundaries, a top-edge from Faulkner’s blade and a late cut by Voges past third man, ensured that the bowler conceded 14 from his over. This was Australia’s best over against a regular bowler in the innings, second only to the 18 given away by Virat Kohli in the 40th. Then, when Ashwin went for eight runs in the 47th, reducing the target to 44 from 18 balls, the teams once again broke for another set of meetings. It isn’t yet out of hand, the Indians must have felt.
The Aussies too must have felt the same thing, when Dhoni brought Ishant Sharma back into the attack.
In the three matches played before the Mohali game on Australia’s tour of India so far, including the T20, Ishant has conceded 52 runs from four overs in Rajkot, 56 from seven in Pune and 70 from nine in Jaipur. On Saturday, however, Ishant had given away just 33 runs from his previous seven overs. He had also trapped opener Aaron Finch, a rare moment of joy considering it was only his third LBW decision in six years of playing one-day cricket. A wave of hair swooshed in, veiling his eyes as he bent his spine.
Considering what happened each time he released the ball this over, Ishant would have never wished the hair-screen away.
With three men protecting the deep on the leg side, Ishant hurled the ball just where Faulkner would have liked it. Full and wide of off stump. The ball darted over the helpless infield