The fourth ODI between India and Australia was today called off because of rains at the JSCA Stadium here. Chasing 296, India were 27 for no loss in 4.1 overs in when heavens opened up for the second time during the match.
Though it would be tough for India to win the series after the no result here, Australia won't be able to displace them from the top of the ODI rankings. Australia needed to win 6-1 in the series to become the number one team.
The match was stopped at 6.18 pm because of light drizzle which later intensified to frustrate both the teams. There was some hope in the middle as the rain had stopped after one hour and the groundsmen and super soppers were pressed into action.
The mopping exercise by the groundsmen continued for more than one hour but the two onfield umpires took the call after inspecting the ground at 8.30pm. The match was called off after the umpires found out that the ground was too water logged to continue the proceedings.
By virtue of the abandoned match, Australia continue to lead the seven-match series 2-1.
The fifth ODI between the two sides will be played at the Barabati Stadium in Cuttack on Saturday.
India had begun their stiff chase on a positive manner with Shikhar Dhawan (14 not out) hitting three boundaries while Rohit Sharma (9 not out) struck one as India were going at 6.48 runs per over when the match was halted for the second time in the day.
"It depended on the first 15 overs, on the start we get. If we didn't lose too many wickets the pitch would have become better to bat on," he said after the match was washed out.
"The weather is not in our control. To some extent you are a bit disappointed, but whatever result it was we have to accept it. We wouldn't have minded a 20 over game with the start we had," Dhoni said.
The Indian skipper was full of praise for fast bowler Mohammed Shami (3/42) who impressed with his deceptive bowling. "He (Shami) is deceptive. He bowls quicker than you think. What was important was he bowled full and the wickets he got, he was hitting the bails," Dhoni said. "In the death he was getting the yorkers in pretty consistently. I know they will come back strong."
India's fielding was not upto the mark today as they dropped as many as six catches, but Dhoni backed his butterfingered fielders to come back strongly in the next match. "At times it happens, some of the stadiums it is difficult to sight the ball," he said.
Light drizzle had interrupted the game for about 30 minutes when Australia were 28 for two after 7.2 overs.
Earlier, Australia rode on a record 153-run partnership between George Bailey and Glenn Maxwell to recover from a jittery start and post a challenging 295 for eight.
Skipper Bailey (98 off 94 balls) and Maxwell (92 off 77) missed their respective centuries but ensured that Australia recover from a difficult 71 for four to 224 for five through the team's highest partnership against India for the fifth wicket.
Bailey is in red hot form in the series having scored 43, 92 and 84 in the earlier games.
Brought in place of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammad Shami's fiery first spell (6-1-21-3) ripped apart the Australian top order after India put the visitors into bat.
But the Aussies hugely benefited thanks to the butterfingered Indian fielders who dropped as many as six catches and the ground fielding was equally sloppy.
Bailey was dropped twice (on zero and 35) in what could have been regulation catches, while Maxwell too got reprieve on two occasions (on 44 and 69) at the JSCA Stadium. As if it was not enough, Mitchell Johnson, on 15, was dropped by Raina, while Shikhar Dhawan dropped James Faulkner on the last ball of the innings as Australia posted a competitive target under overcast conditions.
With his personal best figures of 3/42, Shami was the pick of the Indian bowlers, while Vinay Kumar and Ravichandran Ashwin took two apiece and were expensive with economy rates of 6.50 and 6.33 each.
Jaydev Unadkat, who replaced the struggling Ishant Sharma, went wicketless. Shami extracted swing from the pitch, bowling at around 140-145kphs to trouble the Aussie openers. He castled Aaron Finch (5) with an inswinger that went through the gap between bat and bat in the second over, while left-hander Phillip Hughes took an outside edge with the India skipper taking a fine catch.
Shami's two-wicket burst, which reduced Australia to 24 for two in the sixth over, meant that for the first time in the series the opening duo failed to notch up the 50-mark.
The Bengal pacer almost had a third to his name in the next ball but Virat Kohli dropped Bailey at the third slip with the Aussie skipper yet to open his account.