MOHALI, March 10: Unheralded Ashton Turner took an experienced Indian attack to the cleaners with some unbelievable hitting, helping Australia chase down a recordbreaking target of 359 runs and level the five-match series 2-2 here on Sunday.
It was the highest ever total that Indian team failed to defend in its ODI history, losing the game by four wickets.
Playing only his second ODI, Turner hit an unbeaten 84 off 43 balls with five boundaries and as many as six sixes to help Australia win in only 47.5 overs. Earlier in the day, Shikhar Dhawan fired India to 358 for nine with a sublime 143 off 115 balls.
The partnership of 86 off 39 balls between Turner and Alex Carey became the turning point after Peter Handscomb and Usman Khawaja had set the platform with a 192-run third-wicket stand.
The big lad, who has been a designated finisher for Big Bash League side Perth Scorchers, showed his finishing skills against world’s best death bowler Jasprit Bumrah (3-63), hitting him for an effortless ramp shot.
The swagger with which he lofted Bhuvneshwar Kumar (1-67) over long-on and deep mid-wicket, earned him a few fans among the home crowd and the poor Indian fielding did help his cause with Kedar Jadhav and Shikhar Dhawan dropping sitters.
Turner used his big reach to hit those big sixes down the ground off Kuldeep and Chahal.
Khawaja (91 off 99 balls) and Handscomb (117 off 105 ) set the tone as they played Yuzvendra Chahal (1-64 in 10 overs) and Kuldeep Yadav (1-80 in 10 overs) with ease.
The duo kept Australia in the hunt taking 73 runs off Vijay Shankar (0-29 in 5 overs) and Kedar Jadhav (0-44)’s combined 10-over spell. Khawaja and Handscomb found the gaps with ease and the dew made it difficult for the Indian spinners with ball looking like a slippery bar of soap.
Khawaja was finally done in by a short ball from Bumrah and once Handscomb was dismissed, India were smelling victory but Turner changed it all.
Batting first, India looked a completely different side with opening duo putting on 193 runs on arguably the flattest track on offer during the ongoing series.
While Dhawan got his 16th hundred in ODIs, vice-captain Rohit (95 off 92 balls) missed out on what could have been a very well-deserved 23rd hundred with Australian bowlers looking like lambs for slaughter.
Pat Cummins (5-70 in 10 overs) and Jhye Richardson (3-85 in 9 overs) shared the spoils but were taken to task by the Indian openers for their wayward bowling.
Dhawan, who last reached a three-figure mark against Pakistan in an Asia Cup match in September 2018, was in fluent touch from the onset, hitting 18 fours and 3 sixes.
It released the pressure on Rohit, who initially was watchful even as Dhawan went after the bowling. (PTI)