India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni slammed his ninth century in ODIs when he reached his hundred off 107 balls in the third of seven-match series against Australia in Mohali on Saturday. Captain Cool conquered pain and a hostile piece of pace bowling to steady a rocking Indian ship. Dhoni strained his ankle while running a quick single with Virat Kohli in the 14th over and needed medical attention. But the strong man that Dhoni is, the captain ignored pain and in his typical fashion mixed caution with aggression to keep the scoreboard ticking. He became the first Indian to score a century at Punjab Cricket Association in Mohali. (Highlights)
Dhoni came in to bat when India were down to 76 for four after Suresh Raina (17) and Yuvraj Singh (0) got out on successive deliveries. He then added 72 runs with Virat Kohli (68) to lend some solidity. After Kohli's departure, Dhoni was then joined by R Ashwin (28 off 35 balls), who played a key role as the duo put on 76 runs for the seventh wicket.
Dhoni's ninth century was laced with nine fours and two sixes. He reached his hundred with a glorious boundary. This is his second century against Australia. He scored 121 off 124 balls in his first one on October 28, 2009 at Nagpur that India won by 99 runs. (Scorecard)
Dhoni started relatively slowly but launched into a massive counter-attack in the death overs. He finally finished with 139 not out off 121 balls. The innings comprised of 12 fours and 5 sixes. Dhoni's bold hitting towards the end upset the line and length of the Aussie bowlers and India finished at 303/9 in 50 overs. Australia, who had bowled with discipline till Dhoni's onslaught, simply had no answer to his rampaging strokeplay. It was vintage Dhoni all the way as he displayed his favourite helicopter shot to dispatch the ball into the stands. (Match Report)
Dhoni's 139 not out is the third highest at No. 6 in ODIs behind former India captain Kapil Dev and ex-Australia all-rounder Andrew Strauss. Kapil hit 175 against Zimbabwe at Tunbridge Wells in 1983 while Symonds scored 143 not out against Pakistan at Johannesburg in 2003, both knocks coming in World Cups. Kapil had walked into bat when his side was nine for four, whereas Symonds was in at 86 for four.
The 32-year-old right-hander scored his last century against Pakistan in December last year at Chennai - his second home. He hit 113 not out off 125 balls with seven fours and three sixes, coming in a losing cause.
This is not the first time Dhoni has scored a hundred under pressure for his team. His most brutal innings came against Sri Lanka in 2005 when he smashed 183 not out. He continues to be India's man in crunch periods and is one of the best finishers in the game. Clearly a skipper who leads by example by deeds more than words.
However, his innings would go in vain as James Faulkner and Adam Voges took Australia to a 4-wicket victory with 3 balls to spare