GUWAHATI: India’s gamble to bat first on a tricky wicket backfired heavily as they suffered a six-wicket defeat against Australia in the sixth
One-dayer to allow the visitors to clinch the seven-match series by taking an unasailable 4-2 lead on Sunday.
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India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss and surprisingly chose to bat first in heavy weather conditions and the side never really recovered from the early jolts to virtually serve the game on a platter to the worlds champions.
It was a thoroughly professional display by the world champions, who first shot out India for 170 in 48 overs with their second-string attack and then chased down the target in 41.5 overs — losing just four wickets — to complete a facile win.
On a track where ball turned sharply, Australia rode on Shane Watson’s run-a-ball 49 and cameos from Ricky Ponting (25) and Cameron White (25) to inch closer to the target.
Michael Hussey (35 not out) and Adam Voges (23 not out) then guided them home with 8.1 overs to spare.
Earlier, a horror story unfolded after Dhoni’s gamble to bat first on a wicket that offered generous movements boomeranged.
India slumped to 27 for five in nine overs and a three digit total looked like a distant possibility at that point.
Fortunately for them, Ravindra Jadeja (57) and Praveen Kumar (54 not out), who slammed his maiden ODI half-century, did not throw in the towel and pushed the score to 170 in 48 overs before the hosts folded.
Doug Bollinger (5/35) and Mitchell Johnson (3/39) shared eight wickets between them to knock the wind out of India’s sail in the crucial match.
Both the teams now move to Mumbai for the seventh and last ODI on Wednesday.
Earlier, Doug Bollinger (5/35) and Mitchell Johnson (3/39) wreaked havoc with the ball to leave India in tatters before defiant half-centuries from Ravindra Jadeja (57 off 103 balls) and Praveen Kumar (54 not out off 51 balls) lent some semblance of respectability to the score.
His team in dire straits, Jadeja first added 48 runs with skipper Dhoni (24) and starred in a vital 74-run stand for the eighth wicket with Praveen to save India the blushes.
Dhoni’s decision to bat first backfired soon with Johnson extracting significant swing and picking up dangermen Virender Sehwag (6) and Gautam Gambhir (0) in the opening over of the innings.
Sehwag, who had dispatched Johnson for a six over the point region of the second ball of the match, lost his stumps to the pacer two balls later.
New man in Gambhir lasted just two balls, the second being a Johnson inswinger that sent the left-hander’s off-stump cartwheeling.
Tendulkar (10) looked like carrying the golden touch of his previous match but his stay was cut short when Bollinger took a good reflex catch off his own bowling.
Yuvraj Singh (6) too departed soon in an unusual manner when a Bollinger delivery hit him on the pad and looped over his shoulder with the batsman, trying to drag his bat in, inadvertently hitting the ball, helping it knock off the bail.
With Suresh Raina too returning soon, Jadeja showed the sense of responsibility that was missing among his illustrious teammates.
The youngster joined hands with Dhoni, trying to put the house in order but their association was nipped just when it had started blooming.
Bollinger trapped Dhoni with a delivery that apparently was missing the off-stump but umpire Shavir Tarapore felt otherwise.
Jadeja finally found an able partner in Praveen, who smashed seven fours and a six in his entertaining knock to give the Indian bowlers something to bowl at.
After Jadeja’s dismissal, caught by White of Bollinger, Praveen ran out of partners with two overs to spare.
Chasing the target, Australian batsmen found it difficult to cope with the prodigious turn but the meagreness of the victory target made their job easy.