Dhoni delights as India takes 135-run lead over Aussies

Updated 24 February 2013
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Dhoni delights as India takes 135-run lead over Aussies

CHENNAI: An exceptional maiden Test double-century from M.S. Dhoni emphatically took India from an uncomfortable period and into the lead over Australia on day three at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium yesterday. Dhoni walked in at the fall of Sachin Tendulkar for 81 after India had scored just 14 runs in the 11 overs and proceeded to dominate a stand of 128 with Virat Kohli (107) before marshaling the lower order to a total of 515 for 8. At stumps, India led Australia by 135 with Dhoni on 206 — the highest score by any wicketkeeper-captain and the best by an Indian ‘keeper.
Dhoni’s arrival injected the desire impetus into a flagging innings; he began with a burst of singles and doubles and was clearly out to upset Nathan Lyon’s rhythm, shuffling and coming down the track. The effect was almost immediate, as Lyon dropped short and allowed Kohli room to rock back and pull a six over midwicket. It was India’s first boundary in 14 overs.
Dhoni hit Lyon out of the attack with two fours in one over, and Moises Henriques was welcomed with two fours by Kohli as the 50 partnership came up in 43 deliveries. Another four to Kohli raised India’s 250, and when Lyon returned just before lunch he was hit for two more boundaries by Dhoni. Dhoni’s tempo-changing attack allowed Kohli to focus on building his innings, and he continued with calmness and focus that augurs well for his Test career. Kohli worked hard to cut out the risky shots and only played in anger when the deliveries were really loose, making sure that full tosses were put away past cover and midwicket.
Dhoni’s assault on the new ball was exhilarating, as India took 54 in the first even seven overs. His 50 came up in 59 balls during an over in which he carved Mitchell Starc for three off-side boundaries, and then Henriques was smacked for six over extra cover and four past mid-on in his first over.


In the midst of this carnage, Kohli put a full delivery off the toes away for four to reach his fourth Test century — and second against Australia — but failed to press on. Perhaps caught up in the moment or looking to emulate Dhoni’s bullishness, Kohli chipped the second ball of a new Lyon spell to mid-on.
Dhoni got a life on 89 when he misjudged a call for a single and was let off by Phillip Hughes who failed to collect the ball cleanly, and then looked on as Ravindra Jadeja struggled in his second Test innings. Jadeja never looked convincing during his 45-ball stay, and after a series of lbw appeals and inside edges he chose the wrong delivery to leave and was bowled by James Pattinson for 16.
Dhoni spent 29 deliveries in the nineties before reaching his sixth Test century with a flick over square leg. Soon after he celebrated with a six that took him past 4000 Test runs. He added 34 with Harbhajan Singh (11) — who became the seventh batsman bowled when he swiped at Henriques — and a record century stand with the debutant Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Dropped on 0 by Ed Cowan at short midwicket, Bhuvneshwar buckled down to score 16 off 55 balls while Dhoni went about piercing the field and lofting sixes.
When he chipped Pattinson for four off the first ball of a new spell late in the day, Dhoni surpassed his previous best of 148 scored in 2006. As the shadows lengthened, Dhoni trained his sights on Lyon again, hitting him for two sixes in an over. His maiden double-century needed 231 deliveries and was celebrated with a mild raise of the bat by Dhoni. It was an exceptional innings.
Earlier, runs had come at a trickle in the first hour as Tendulkar and Kohli seemed a touch hesitant outside off stump. The pair even played out a sequence of four maidens at one stretch; Tendulkar had a few nervy moments outside off stump, including a mistimed uppercut that landed in no man’s land. The introduction of Lyon produced the breakthrough, as a tossed-up delivery spun in sharply from the rough and clipped the inner half of the bat as Tendulkar mistimed a booming drive. The fans that had cued up from early in the morning were left disappointed at Tendulkar’s dismissal for 81, but were soon given reason to flex their vocal cords when another adopted hero, Dhoni, injected momentum into India’s innings with a brilliant innings.


Chelsea face Manchester United in FA Cup final as Olivier Giroud sinks Southampton

Updated 26 min 52 sec ago
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Chelsea face Manchester United in FA Cup final as Olivier Giroud sinks Southampton

London: Chelsea booked an FA Cup final showdown with Manchester United as Olivier Giroud tormented Southampton again with a sublime strike in Sunday’s 2-0 win at Wembley.
Giroud has made a habit of scoring against Southampton and the France forward was their nemesis in a one-sided semifinal.
Opting to select Giroud instead of Alvaro Morata proved a shrewd move by Chelsea manager Antonio Conte as the former Arsenal star produced a tremendous piece of skill to break the deadlock early in the second half.
Giroud has feasted on Southampton this season, scoring twice to spark Chelsea’s 3-2 win last weekend and also netting a late equalizer against them for Arsenal in December.
His fourth goal for Chelsea since his January signing was followed by a late header from substitute Morata, setting up a heavyweight final against United at Wembley on May 19.
That will be Chelsea’s last chance to win major silverware at the end of a troubled season.
“The most important thing is to reach the final. This is the second FA Cup final in a row for us. I’m delighted for our fans,” Conte said.
“For sure, Olivier has been a good signing for us. I needed a player like him, strong physically, to hold the ball up.
“Today I decided to start with Olivier because I knew we were playing against three strong central defenders, but when Morata came on the impact was impressive as well.”
Chelsea’s 13th FA Cup final appearance will be a repeat of the 2007 showpiece, when Jose Mourinho’s men won 1-0.
The Blues, back in the final after losing to Arsenal in May, last won the competition in 2012 and are bidding to lift the trophy for the eighth time.
Winning the FA Cup might not be enough to convince either Conte or Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich that their two-year partnership should be extended.
Conte has spent much of the season complaining about Chelsea’s failure to back his transfer plans, while several of his players are believed to be unhappy with his demanding training sessions and intense personality.
The Blues face a tough task to qualify for the Champions League via a top-four finish in the Premier League as they trail fourth-placed Tottenham by five points.
Against that backdrop, winning the Cup would at least provide an uplifting conclusion to a frustrating campaign.
For Southampton, the focus returns to their desperate battle to avoid relegation, with just four games left to climb out of the bottom three.
Saints boss Mark Hughes claimed the crucial moment was the officials’ refusal to use the video assistant referee when Chelsea keeper Willy Caballero may have dropped the ball over the line under pressure from Charlie Austin.
“We are disappointed with the officials. Their goalkeeper has thrown the ball into the back of the net,” Hughes complained.
“If ever there was a case for VAR to review, that was the moment. Why it wasn’t referred I’ve no idea.”
Giroud was warming to the task of giving Southampton another headache and he went close to breaking the deadlock with an acrobatic volley before half-time.
Chelsea’s dominance was finally rewarded in the 46th minute.
Cesc Fabregas lofted a pass toward Eden Hazard and he controlled brilliantly in mid-air before slipping the ball through to Giroud.
There was still work for Giroud to do and he side-stepped three defenders with surprising grace, his nimble footwork giving him just enough space to slot home from close range.
After Caballero got away with his sloppy handling, Austin appealed in vain for a penalty when Giroud left his arm out to block the forward’s header.
But it was too little, too late and Morata came off the bench to wrap up the win with just his third goal in his last 19 appearances.
Morata, who has failed to impress since his move from Real Madrid last year, was furious after being hauled off at Burnley.
Just days later, he was all smiles when he nodded home from Cesar Azpilicueta’s 82nd-minute cross.