Make that five centuries for Indian batsmen in a losing cause against Australia. At Manuka Oval, Canberra both Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan made blistering centuries to put India on the verge of a famous run chase but an astounding batting collapse saw them go from 277 for 1 to 323 all out. Australia won the match by 25 runs and took a 4-0 in the series. Veteran cricket journalist Ayaz Memon, or Cricketwallah as he is known, analyses the Canberra ODI in an exclusive chat with Firstpost.
MS Dhoni lost the toss and Australia made 358 batting first thanks to a century from Aaron Finch, 93 from David Warner a late blitz from Glenn Maxwell. India's chase was off to a rollicking start thanks to a 25-ball 41 from Rohit Sharma.
In conversation with Firstpost's Vinayakk Mohanarangan, Ayaz gives his take on the epic collapse by India. He also gives take on the great partnership between Kohli and Dhawan, the latter who was in a precarious position a couple of games back and also the brain freeze from India's lower order.
"For the life of me, I cannot understand what was the game plan. What were the batsmen trying to do on the verge of victory, even after Kohli, Dhawan and Dhoni got out, you are still chasing at under six runs an over."
"It was stupefying. Frankly, this was a run chase without any thought. 349 was a massive target on a flat pitch, but especially after the start India got, I don't think any player will be able to sleep tonight", Ayaz told Firstpost.
On the inexperienced lower order throwing away their wickets, Ayaz said: "You can't be a hero and try and win the match in three or four overs, when you could have won it in 10 or 12. Everybody was trying to be a hero, but you know what, everyone would have been a hero had India won the match. The rest of the batsmen ended up looking a bunch of zeroes."
Ayaz also said Dhoni's dismissal was crucial and the lower order was exposed. He added: "The more damaging dismissal was of Virat Kohli. You can't really hammer a guy who got a hundred, but it was his dismissal that left India without any specialist batsman except for an injured Rahane. Just when everyone was praising him to the skies after his 25th hundred, it was a soft dismissal. Make no mistake, he will be feeling terrible about it."
Ayaz also chipped in with his thoughts on what next for Dhoni and team India as they look to salvage some pride from the remainder of the series down under.
Firstpost's Game plan with Ayaz Memon will be streamed live on Periscope and on Firstpost website at the end of each ODI of the series Down Under. Follow @FirstpostSports on Twitter for more details.
Match report: India suffer batting collapse as Australia win 4th ODI
Canberra: India suffered an astonishing batting collapse to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory as Australia bounced back from a difficult situation to win the fourth One Day International (ODI) by 25 runs at the Manuka Oval here on Wednesday.
Set a formidable target of 349 runs, India folded up for 323 despite centuries from Shikhar Dhawan (126) and Virat Kohli (106). The visitors were seemingly coasting to victory with the score reading 277/1 in the 38th over. But Dhawan's dismissal triggered a collapse and the visiting team lost nine wickets for 46 runs to be all out in 49.2 overs.
Australia now lead the series 4-0. The fifth and last ODI will be played in Sydney on Saturday.
Australia have now won 19 games on the trot. This is the longest winning streak at home by any team since the formidable West Indies registered 18 consecutive victories in the 1980s. Kohli also created a bit of history for the visitors, becoming the fastest batsman to hit 25 ODI centuries, displacing Sachin Tendulkar from the top of the pile. The 27-year-old has taken 162 innings to complete the feat, while Sachin needed 234.
Pacer Kane Richardson played a crucial role in Australia's victory with a five-wicket haul, including four in his last four overs. Fellow pacers John Hastings (2/50) and Mitchell Marsh (2/55) claimed two wickets each while off-spinner Nathan Lyon (1/76) copped a bit of punishment before bagging the wicket of rookie Gurkeerat Singh Mann.
The Indians were off to a flying start with the in-form Rohit Sharma going after the Australian bowling. Rohit has been in superb form in this series and was on song here as well, plundering 41 runs off 25 balls with two boundaries and three sixes. But the Mumbai right-hander virtually gifted away his wicket, while attempting to play a Richardson delivery which was going down the legside. Australian wicketkeeper Matthew Wade produced a superb diving effort to give the hosts the breakthrough.
But the Indians asserted their domination after that as Dhawan and Kohli stitched together a mammoth 212-run partnership. The two Delhi batsmen laid the foundation for an Indian victory before Dhawan was finally undone by a change of pace by Hastings. The left-hander tried to cut a shoulder-high delivery but was fooled by the slower pace and could only find George Bailey at backward point. India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (0) lasted all of three balls before edging one to Wade in the last ball of the over.
Kohli was next to go, coming down the track to hit Richardson to Australia skipper Steven Smith at mid-off. The visitors continued to lose wickets at regular intervals after that. Although Ravindra Jadeja (24) tried to turn the tide with a brave effort, it did not prove to be enough.
Earlier, riding on a powerful batting performance, including a century from opener Aaron Finch, Australia posted a formidable total of 348/8. Finch scored a run-a-ball 107 and posted an opening partnership of 187 runs with David Warner (93) to lay the foundation for a big total.
Smith (51) also made a useful contribution in the middle order before Glenn Maxwell (41) came up with the fireworks towards the end to give the Australian innings a superb finish.
Pacers Ishant Sharma (4/77) and Umesh Yadav (3/67) came up with a flurry of late wickets to keep the Australian total below the 350-run mark.
Electing to bat after winning the toss, Smith saw his decision vindicated as openers Finch and Warner tormented the Indian bowling.
Warner, who replaced Shaun Marsh in the Australian XI after returning from paternity leave, was the more aggressive among the Australian openers. The left-hander smashed 12 boundaries and a six during his 92-ball knock.
Finch gave Warner good support from the other end as the hosts kept the scoreboard ticking at a healthy rate, helped by some inconsistent fielding by the visitors.
The Australian blitzkrieg claimed a victim in umpire Richard Kettleborough when the Englishman was hit on the right leg by a Finch straight drive in the 17th over. Kettleborough limped off the field and was replaced by Australian official Paul Wilson.
Warner was looking well set for a well deserved century before being bowled while trying to hoist a slowish, incoming delivery from Ishant over mid-wicket.
Finch was dismissed by Yadav soon after completing his century when he mistimed an attempted pull shot. The ball found the upper edge of the bat and went up in the air as Ishant pulled off a comfortable catch.
But Indian hopes of containing the Australians to a manageable total soon disappeared as Smith and Maxwell smashed the bowlers all around the ground. Smith hit four boundaries and three sixes in a 29-ball 51 and Warner had six boundaries and a six in his 20-ball innings.
The Indian bowlers hit back late in the innings, claiming five wickets in the last six overs. But by then, the Australians had already set themselves up for a formidable total.