Australia v India: MS Dhoni half-century guides tourists to ODI series win

India batsman MS Dhoni
MS Dhoni scored his 70th one-day half century to guide India to a 2-1 series win in Australia
Third one-day international, Melbourne Cricket Ground:
Australia 230 (48.4 overs): Handscomb 58 Chahal 6-42
India 234-3 (49.2 overs): Dhoni 87* Jadhav 61*
India won by seven wickets

MS Dhoni scored a third successive half-century to guide India to a seven-wicket win against Australia and clinch the one-day international series 2-1.

Dhoni, who was dropped first ball, hit an unbeaten 87 and Kedar Jadhav was 61 not out in a 121-run fourth-wicket partnership as the tourists won in Melbourne with four balls remaining.

Leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal took 6-42 as Australia were all out for 230.

The one-day success follows India's first Test series win in Australia.

However, the Australians wasted several opportunities to avenge that defeat in the longer form of the game.

Captain Virat Kohli, who went on to score 46, was dropped by Peter Handscomb at slip on 10, Glenn Maxwell dropped a straightforward chance at point to remove Dhoni first ball, and both should have been run out early in their partnership.

Dhoni was also dropped in the 48th over by captain Aaron Finch with India needing 27 runs from the final 18 deliveries, but the former India skipper never looked flustered as he and Jadhav saw the tourists home.

The 37-year-old was named player of the series in recognition of his 193 runs over the three matches - a marked improvement to his form in 2018, when he managed just 275 runs in 20 ODIs.

Kohli welcomed the confidence boost for one of his senior players, who led India to the 2007 World Twenty20, 2011 World Cup and 2013 Champions Trophy but was criticised at times for his performances last year.

"As a team we are very happy, but more than anything I think he must be very pleased that he is amongst the runs and feeling confident about his game again, which is very important for a batsman," said Kohli, who replaced Dhoni as one-day skipper in January 2017.

"Many things happen on the outside, people say a lot of things, but as an individual we know no-one has been more committed to Indian cricket than MS Dhoni.

"I think people should let him have his space because he has contributed so much for the nation.

"They should just let him figure out things on his own about his game and what he needs to do.

"He has been one of the most intelligent cricketers; he is not someone who is not aware about what needs to be done.

"As a team, we are totally in sync and very happy about what he is doing - and we are all very happy for him."

India had exploited the slow-paced pitch in Australia's innings and set the tone early by putting pressure on their openers and restricting their scoring.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar continued to torment Finch, dismissing the Australian skipper for the third time in the series, before also claiming the wicket of Alex Carey to reduce the hosts to 27-2.

Usman Khawaja (34) and Shaun Marsh (39) steadied the innings with a 73-run partnership, but both fell in the same over to Chahal, who made a decisive impact in his first match of the series.

Handscomb top-scored with 58 but became Chahal's fifth wicket, caught in the deep, with the score on 219-8 and Australia's innings petered out.

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