'Attacking seamers was our only chance' - Faulkner
India's death-bowling problems are well documented, and Australia's batsmen seemed to know all about them, timing their late assault in Mohali to perfection to complete an improbable chase. James Faulkner, India's wrecker-in-chief on the night, said after the game he knew better than to go after offspinner R Ashwin, while Adam Voges, Australia's top scorer, said Faulkner had specifically looked to get after Ishant Sharma in an over that changed the game.
"I didn't feel I could get Ashwin over to the long boundary, with his carom balls. So I thought if I could just get seven or eight off him and target the other end … that was our only chance of winning, to take 20 runs each from the medium pacers," Faulkner said after his team chased down 304, needing 44 off the final three overs. Ashwin had bowled the 47th over and the pair of Voges and Faulkner took eight off it, with just one boundary. The next over, Ishant was thrown the ball and, according to Voges, Faulkner said: "This is it, I am going after this."
And go he did, slamming four sixes, a four and running a two to take 30 off Ishant and bring the equation down to a very manageable 14 off 12. Ashwin bowled the following over too, and again Faulkner and Voges sensibly knocked him around for five, before easing to victory off seamer Vinay Kumar.
While Faulkner's innings was "extraordinary", as his captain George Bailey termed it, Ishant did provide him with the opportunities to hit out. The pace bowler pitched short repeatedly, bowled length and delivered only one full ball, and even that delivery allowed Faulkner the room to have a swing.
Asked if the Indian seamers crumbled under pressure, Faulkner said, "There is always pressure to bowl at that stage, I know that as I have done that a few times for Australia. It's just a matter of if you can execute [your skills] or not. There are going to be days when you would look silly out there, and that has happened to me a lot of times. But there are other time when you might bowl a really good over and win it for the team."
Faulkner's late assault turned the game completely after 91 were required off the last nine overs when he arrived at the crease. He reached his half-century off 24 deliveries while Voges held the other end together with a solid 76.
"It was a very good innings from Vogsy," Faukner said. "It's clear that you struggle early in the innings, but to battle the way through like he did and help me out when I was struggling initially, I think he batted exceptionally well with a mature head."
Australia are ahead in the series with four matches to play and Faulkner expected it to be a close fight between the two top ODI teams.
"Both teams are ranked 1 and 2 for a reason and you have season how close the games have been," he said. "It was a kick in the guts, the second game in Jaipur. To score 360 and have them chase the total one down was really disappointing. We knew we had to bounce back with a good game tonight and now we are 2-1 up in the series. It's going to be a really tough contest for the next four games."