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Faulkner Fires Australia To Unlikely Victory

James Faulkner drives
James Faulkner turned the match in Australia's favour in the spare of just a single over from Ishant Sharma.
©Action Images / Paul Childs

Australia 304-6 (Faulkner 64no) beat
India 303-9 (Dhoni 139no) by 4 wickets
Third One-Day International, Mohali

Australia looked to be heading for defeat in the third One-Day International against India in Mohali. However, James Faulkner plundered 30 runs off a single over from the hapless Ishant Sharma to take them to a four-wicket victory in the final over of their run chase.

Faulkner himself had been on the receiving end earlier in the match as MS Dhoni took 21 runs of the final over that he bowled. The Indian captain ended on 139 not out and took his side to 303 for nine from their 50 overs after they too had had a slightly tricky start.

Australia’s pursuit of that total was floundering when Faulkner came in with the score on 213 for six in the 42nd over. Their top-order had all got starts, with openers Phil Hughes and Aaron Finch adding 68 in 74 balls and skipper George Bailey making 43 off 60. The required rate, though, was always climbing as Ravindra Jadeja proved particularly difficult to get away. He got through his 10 overs for figures of one for 31 - exceptional stuff on another flat pitch and almost two runs per over less than the next best Indian bowler managed.

Brad Haddin came in at number seven and got the innings moving prior to Faulkner’s match-winning escapade. He hit 24 off only 16 balls, but even after that, Australia were always up against it.

Enter Faulkner. The first off his six sixes came off Bhuvneshwar Kumar over mid-wicket, with all but one of the others coming from Ishant Sharma. At the start of the 48th over, Australia needed 44 off 18 balls. By the end of it, the equation stood at 14 off 12. The first ball went for four over extra-cover to bring up the 50 partnership with Adam Voges - more on him later - with sixes then following off four of the next five deliveries.

R Ashwin then delivered a tidy penultimate over to leave nine needed off the last, but Faulkner finished the match in fitting fashion; depositing Vinay Kumar over the leg-side for six. Australia had won a match they shouldn’t have. Sharma, meanwhile, has conceded 241 runs in the four matches to date against Australia, albeit on very flat pitches.

Voges was at the other end to admire Faulkner’s onslaught and finished up on 76 off 88 balls. His innings was a calm one and, whilst without Faulkner it would’ve likely been in a losing cause, at least kept Australia in the match long enough to allow the Tasmanian to do his stuff.

All of which rather overshadowed a phenomenal innings from MS Dhoni earlier in the evening. India lost four for 76 in the first 13 overs of their innings after being asked to bat, but current captain Dhoni, along with his likely successor Virat Kohli, began the recovery. They added 72 for the fifth-wicket, with Dhoni then finding sufficient support from Ashwin (28) to put on a further 76 for the seventh-wicket and Bhuvneshwar Kumar to add another 37 for the eighth.

He hit five sixes in all during his innings and ended on 139 off only 121 balls; a true captain’s innings. Mitchell Johnson led the Australian attack with four for 46, while Xavier Doherty (0-45) and Clint McKay (1-49) can both be proud of their evening’s work.

No-one, of course, can be as proud as Faulkner, whose innings has helped his side re-take the lead in the seven-match series ahead of the fourth game in Ranchi on Wednesday.

© Cricket World 2013