AUSTRALIA’S hopes of regaining the one-day No.1 ranking washed away in Ranchi on Thursday morning (AEDT).
After Glenn Maxwell and George Bailey’s batting heroics, it didn’t take any monsoonal weather, but more persistent rainfall – and a less-than-effective drainage system – to kill off the fourth ODI just 4.1 overs into India’s chase.
The hosts were 0-27 and eating away at Australia’s target of 296 when they walked off the field and didn’t return, leaving Australia up 2-1 in the series with three games to play.
To regain top spot on the ICC rankings Australia needed to win the series 6-1.
But with rain expected to threaten game five in Cuttack as well, Australia are potentially just one victory from another series win on the subcontinent.
Bailey was left frustrated by the abandonment of the game, after playing another starring role to lift the tourists to 8-295 after walking to the crease at 3-32.
“We were confident but I’m sure India probably were as well,” said Bailey, who scored 98 off 94.
“Given the way the series has gone … strong batting lineup, I’m sure they would’ve been.
“(But) we just felt there was enough movement in the wicket, particularly early on.
“We were hoping if we could get a couple of wickets you could make that quite challenging.
“And certainly the pace that Mitch (Johnson) was getting it through early on, it looked like that was going to be quite difficult to play at different stages at the game.”
Bailey combined beautifully with all-rounder Maxwell to dig Australia out of a massive hole created when young Indian seamer Mohammed Shami (3-42 off 8) cleaned up the top order.
The pair put on a 153-run fifth-wicket partnership to undo much of Shami’s early work.
It trumped Australia’s previous best fifth-wicket partnership against India, the 144 compiled by Michael Clarke and Brad Haddin at Bengaluru in 2007.
The home side’s fielding cost them badly, dropping six catches including Bailey twice and Maxwell (92 off 77) once – and both batsmen made India pay.
But not to the tune of three figures, continuing a frustrating trend of Australian batsmen not converting into centuries.
Bailey should’ve been out first ball, if not for Virat Kohli making a meal of a relatively simple edge from Shami.
He could’ve been dismissed a second time, but Ravi Ashwin spilled a much tougher chance at midwicket when Bailey was on 35.
Perhaps the luckiest break of all came when he was on 64 and appeared plumb lbw to occasional offspinner Suresh Raina – but was given a life by the umpire.
“I was a bit frustrated out there and found it quite difficult,” Bailey said.
“I think Maxy’s innings was absolutely superb.”
Bailey’s series tally now stands at 318 runs at an average of 106.
Maxwell, batting with the bravado which earned him a $1 million IPL contract, switch-hit a six and a four off consecutive Ravindra Jadeja deliveries in his entertaining knock.
The umpires had one final check of the wicket at 8.35pm local time, with a view to turning India’s chase into a 20-over slog, but the ground was deemed far too wet underfoot.
That was a lucky break, according to Bailey.
“Certainly 50 overs we were confident … I think the way Duckworth/Lewis is set up, I think if it had become a 20-over game it probably would’ve suited India quite a bit,” he said.