File photo of Virat Kohli after he scored 100 in 52 balls against Australia - the fastest ODI century by an Indian. (BCCI)
Nagpur: India pulled off the second and third highest-ever successful run-chases in ODIs in the ongoing series against Australia, but captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni gave a twist to the talk of his side's awesome batting display by putting a question mark on the direction the limited-over game is moving.
India and Australia have together scored a phenomenal 2565 runs from the four matches played so far, excluding the 295 the visiting team scored in the abandoned Ranchi ODI. The fifth ODI of the seven-match series in Cuttack was also washed out.
"I think it's something we need to think about [that so many high run-chases have been achieved of late]. Is 350 the new 280, 290 or 300?" he asked after India chased down 351 in the sixth ODI here on Wednesday. India had chased down 360 in the second ODI in Jaipur on October 16.
"Even the fast bowlers are bowling with their third man up and fine leg up. Not sure where it's going, but if we are chasing like this, it is not going to be good for the long-term health of the game. Only seeing boundaries and sixes for seven hours?" he wondered.
Nonetheless, Dhoni praised his batsmen for the stunning run-chase. "I think Shikhar and Rohit batted really well, and Shikhar got a century, but for Rohit it was one of those days when you can't find the gaps and he absorbed the pressure so well," he said.
"Yes, I think Virat was brilliant, the reason being that as the ball got old he was counterattacking and maintaining a good position when going for the big shots. He made it look easy and the way he took pressure off the batsmen was amazing. It's always about taking the pressure off the new batsman," said Dhoni of Kohli [115 not out] who hit the third fastest hundred by an Indian from just 61 balls.
Asked about the seventh ODI in Bangalore which has now turned into a summit showdown, Dhoni said, "Bangalore is known for its big runs, so not sure how much we will need to chase or how much we have to set over there."
Australian captain George Bailey was disappointed to have lost the match but said he has no complaints. "It is disappointing [that we lost]. Still a beautiful batting wicket, so you don't see many batters complaining about it. Virat played an unbelievable knock and when a guy is batting well, that is all you can do," he said.
"We needed to find early breakthroughs. You can always do things differently, that never changes, win or lose, but we fought our way back into the game really well. We made them hit really good shots."
Reminded that he has scored the highest runs by an Australian against India when he hit his career-best 156 on Wednesday, Bailey said, "But we are losing, mate. If you are a spectator, you will be loving this [high-scoring matches], so we are really looking forward to Bangalore."
Indian cricket team's batting mainstay Virat Kohli said that he finds chasing targets more comfortable as one knows the task at hand, while adding he enjoys batting under lights.
"I like bating under lights as I have said before, and if you have a target on the board, it's always easy to analyse how many runs you need and how to go about it," Kohli said at the post-match press conference.
Kohli was named the Man of the Match for his splendid unbeaten 115 off just 66 balls, which took the Indian side home in a difficult run chase of 351.
On his sensational batting effort, Kohli said that he backed himself while taking on Australia's strike bowler Mitchell Johnson in the latter part of the innings.
"When Mitch [Mitchell Johnson] came back on to have a bowl, it helped to have MS [Dhoni] at the other end. He told me that we had wickets and we need to go after him. I then went after him and it was all a calculated risk. I had confidence in my ability and backed myself," he said.
India openers Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma put on a century stand to set up a perfect platform for their side in a stiff run-chase, and Sharma said they complement each other well and hoped to continue their impressive partnership.
"We complement each other really well, both on and off the field. It's coming off really well and giving a good start was really important. I am glad that both of us are managing to do it. This is just the start and we need to keep doing this. And we hope it's the start of a good opening partnership for both of us," said Sharma.
The duo put on 178 runs in 29.3 overs for the opening wicket to help India chase down the target. Dhawan said they started cautiously as the wicket was a bit slow and the plan, in the initial overs, was to rotate the strike as much as possible.
"We batted really well. It was a big target. Wicket was a bit slow today, but we stayed at the wicket and we kept rotating the strike and getting boundaries. I just wanted to keep the wickets in our hands and get a good run rate and play our shots and not play any different shots, so that's what we did," Dhawan said.