India vs Australia 2017, 5th ODI: Axar Patel outsmarting David Warner is SK Turning Point of the match
The dangerous batsman's dismissal helped India restrict Australia to a meagre total.
During the previous game in Bengaluru, David Warner smashed a 119-ball 124 to help Australia post a formidable total and subsequently break their wretched away ODI drought. When the opener was halfway through another fluent century, the visitors appeared to be heading towards a strong score.
But Axar Patel outsmarted Warner to turn the game on its head. The left-arm spinner lured the left-hander out of his crease and coerced an inopportune shot from the batsman to cut short his stay at the crease. With their in-form player taken out of the equation for 53, Australia got themselves into a tangle in the middle-overs and consequently limped to a paltry total of 242 for the loss of nine wickets.
Watch Warner's half-century and dismissal here
Riding on a powerful performance from their top-order, India cruised to the target with 7 wickets and 43 balls remaining. Consequently, the 'Men in Blue' wrapped up the series 4-1 and reclaimed their number one position in the ICC ODI rankings.
Here's how Warner's dismissal hindered Australia's progress and enabled India to dominate the proceedings.
Finch and Warner begin strongly
On a sluggish track, Australian skipper Steven Smith won the toss and had no hesitation in batting first. Continuing from where they had left off in the penultimate game at Bengaluru, the opening duo of Warner and Aaron Finch started on a positive note by building a solid partnership for the first wicket.
The boundaries flowed from the broad blades of the two contrasting batsmen. While Finch used his muscle to bludgeon the ball, the southpaw manoeuvred the field with his impeccable timing. The Indians began to feel the pressure as they continued to search for a window of opportunity.
The hosts got their breakthrough when a seemingly innocuous delivery from Hardik Pandya accounted for the well-set Finch. In an attempt to force the pace, the right-hander succumbed in the twelfth over. This was the first instance of the surface playing tricks on the batsmen.
Axar trumps Warner
Upon losing his opening partner, there was a slight let-up in Warner's intensity. The introduction of spin added to the left-hander's dilemma even as captain Smith looked to get himself in at the other end. The semblance of grip on the pitch meant that the Australian batsmen could not sustain their attacking approach like they did in the previous game.
The hosts stitched together a succession of quality overs to apply the squeeze on their opposition. Interestingly, Indian skipper Virat Kohli turned to Kedar Jadhav ahead of Axar Patel. The part-timer's low-arm action and awkward trajectory went a long way in impeding Australia's momentum. The effect of pressure showed as the off-spinner trapped Smith in front.
However, the biggest moment of the match came a couple of overs later when Axar outfoxed the dangerous Warner. After bringing up his 17th ODI half-century, the Paddington-born batsman began to feel the frustration accentuated by the spinners. With the singles cut out by Kohli's smart field placements, he had no other option but to target the boundary in order to keep the scorecard moving.
Realising that his opponent was trying to take the aerial route, Axar smartly pulled the length back by a considerable margin and sent down a delivery wide outside the off-stump. Despite having to fetch the ball from a difficult position, Warner danced down the track and heaved the ball towards the mid-wicket region. But the lack of turn, as well as the slight grip on the pitch, reduced the timing on the shot. Manish Pandey completed an easy catch to send the opener back to the dressing room.
Australia limp to meagre total
Patel struck again in the second delivery of his very next over. In an eerily similar mode of dismissal from the Test series between the two teams earlier this year, Peter Handscomb perished while executing the sweep shot.
Even though Travis Head and Marcus Stoinis sought to resuscitate the innings, the Aussies were unable to wriggle free from the iron-clad grasp of the Indian spinners. The team total had barely crossed the 200-run mark as the end overs loomed.
Patel picked up his third wicket by castling Head in the 43rd over of the innings. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah maintained India's stranglehold by putting on an exemplary exhibition of death bowling. The last seven overs fetched only 37 runs for Australia.
Chasing a below-par total, the Indian openers imposed themselves on the Australian bowlers by stitching together their third successive century partnership. Rohit stuck around for a longer period of time and notched his 14th ODI ton to propel India to a comfortable victory.