Manish Pandey shines as India save face and prevent Australian whitewash

Brilliant: Manish Pandey played a match-winning hand for India.Lehmann suffering from deep vein thrombosis

Mitchell Marsh reached a considerable milestone by breaking through for his maiden international century only to finish the night weighed down by a millstone as India denied Australia a 5-0 whitewash in a thrilling finale to the one-day series.

Sydney’s summer rains gave way to another torrent of runs and not for the first time in this record-breaking series a target in excess of 300 was not enough.

India ran down Australia’s 7/330 with just two balls to spare, raising the question of whether Marsh’s nerves in chasing his breakthrough century cost his team victory.

Though dropped chances by Nathan Lyon and Shaun Marsh in the deep were arguably more costly.

It was Marsh and David Warner’s turn to cash in with tons on the latest batsman-friendly wicket, followed later in the night by Manish Pandey, who whacked a match-winning unbeaten 102 off 80 balls in just his fourth game. They would have been joined by Rohit Sharma had he not feathered one off the wholehearted John Hastings when on 99.

Marsh absorbed precious dot balls in the final two overs while John Hastings spurned a second run to give his partner the strike.

But with the series won, it’s arguable Marsh’s century was worth more than victory. Few will remember the result but the impact the milestone could have on Marsh’s career is considerable.

The innings could be the making of the all-rounder, whose international record to date is moderate but his potential immense.

Sure this was a flat track but few would begrudge Marsh his achievement for he has suffered a severe dose of pad rash so long has he been waiting in the sheds for a chance to bat.

Australia was in a sticky situation when Marsh joined Warner at the crease but the pair ensured a big run chase by adding 118 for the fifth wicket at the SCG.

Both men were comfortable until they hit the 90s. Warner started to pick out fielders, taking 17 balls to move from 90 to 100. Marsh, so fluent for much of his innings, was suddenly racked with nerves.

India’s run chase was built upon a rollicking 78 off 56 balls by Shikhar Dhawan while Pandey was superb.

So calm in the final overs, one would have thought it was he, instead of his captain M.S. Dhoni, who was the seasoned veteran.

The game changed complexion when Hastings removed Sharma in the 35th over. What had appeared a controlled run chase suddenly morphed into a nerve jangling finish.

Dhoni’s dawdling innings left India needing 13 to win off the final over, bowled by Marsh.

Dhoni heaved a huge six over long-off from the first ball but holed out the next delivery attempting to win the game with the same shot.

It took a boundary from Pandey to get the job done. The 3159 runs scored in the past fortnight set a record aggregate for a five-game bilateral series, overtaking the previous mark of 3151 set by England and New Zealand last winter.

To be fair to the SCG’s head curator Tom Parker this strip offered arguably the most encouragement of the series but not enough to produce a true contest between bat and ball. It will be far tougher for Australia’s batsmen in New Zealand next month.

That batting is the strong suit for both Australia and India has also contributed to the run glut. It would be hard to see India scoring as freely against Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood.

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