Steve Smith 131 (132), Marnus Labuschagne 54 (64); Mohammed Shami 4/63
Rohit Sharma 119 (128), Virat Kohli 89 (91); Ashton Agar 1/38
For detailed scorecard and match commentary, click here
With the series on the line at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, India turned in an accomplished display in all departments to emerge victorious by 7 wickets and pocket the three-match ODI series 2-1.
The likes of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli were at their imperious best as the hosts chased down a challenging total of 287 with 15 balls to spare. Additionally, Shreyas Iyer popped up with a tidy innings of 44 off 35 balls to enable the Men in Blue to continue their dominant chasing spree.
Earlier, after being put into bat, Australia gave a decent account of themselves, with Steve Smith starring with a sumptuous century. However, apart from Marnus Labuschagne, none of the other batsmen provided adequate support, meaning that the visitors only managed a par total of 286 from their stipulated 50 overs.
Indian bowlers regularly chip away at Australia
Australia began the game shakily as Shami sent David Warner packing in the 4th over. A few overs later, Aaron Finch and Smith indulged in a misunderstanding of enormous proportions as the Indians bagged a couple of wickets in the first PowerPlay.
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Thereafter, though Labuschagne and Smith stitched together a vital 127-run stand, the hosts constantly kept plugging away at the visitors’ batting line-up, meaning that the Aussies couldn’t capitalize on the solid foundation set by the aforementioned duo.
Alex Carey departed after getting a start of 35 whereas Ashton Turner’s lean run with the willow continued as he was dismissed by Navdeep Saini. Ashton Agar and Pat Cummins were also unable to arrest the slide and while the former remained unbeaten, he failed to inject the innings with the requisite impetus. In the process, Smith was burdened with the responsibility of increasing the tempo and he eventually, perished for the cause.
India hunt down Australia’s premier pacers
For the final fixture at Bengaluru, Australia recalled Josh Hazlewood as they hoped to rattle the hosts with their fast-bowling firepower. However, unfortunately for the visitors, none of the sort materialized as the Men in Blue ransacked runs against the Aussies’ premier pacers.
From the outset, Rohit and KL Rahul targeted Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins with the latter in particular, coming in for quite a lot of punishment. To make matters easier for India, Cummins looked out of rhythm throughout the encounter as his lines and lengths went awry every time he ran up to bowl.
Starc, meanwhile, bowled a tad wide on a pitch that demanded consistency in line. Subsequently, Kohli, Rohit and Shreyas were able to free their arms on a sluggish strip and neutralize the tackiness of the wicket.
Ultimately, Cummins finished with figures of 7-0-64-0 whereas Starc ended up with figures of 9-0-66-0
India clinically get the better of Australia
India were set 287 to clinch the series on a slightly tricky track, meaning that their task wasn’t as obvious as it seemed, prima facie. However, the Men In Blue ensured that there weren’t any hiccups as they chased down the total quite clinically.
After the departure of Rahul, the hosts stabilized their innings, with Kohli and Rohit switching between the roles of anchor and aggressor efficiently. In the process, the duo compiled a 137-run partnership, a stand that deflated the Aussies and laid the foundation for the final flourish.
Once Rohit was dismissed, Kohli joined hands with Shreyas to keep the scoreboard ticking. At the beginning, the former functioned as the more belligerent batsman while the latter grew into his own as his innings progress.
And, though Kohli was castled with 13 required, Manish Pandey and Shreyas ensured that India got over the line comfortably.
Eventually, the hosts completed their conquest with 7 wickets and 15 balls to spare.
Kohli and Rohit’s brilliance trumps Smith’s dexterousness
The game at the Chinnaswamy pitted two of the world’s best batting line-ups against each other, meaning that there were plenty of high-profile batsmen in action. And, fortunately for those in attendance, three of the world’s outstanding batsmen put on a clinic.
In the first essay, Smith oozed class as he conjured a sensational hundred, despite wickets falling at the other end. The former Australian skipper was a picture of concentration throughout and milked the spinners with ease. Unsurprisingly, he enabled himself to carve out a telling innings, which could’ve ended up on the winning side had Kohli and Rohit not had other ideas.
Perhaps as a response to Smith’s dexterousness, the Indian pair dug deep into their batting reserves and put their best foot forward on a surface that could’ve posed as a potential banana skin.
Rohit dominated the fast bowlers while Kohli adeptly handled the threat of Adam Zampa and Ashton Agar. Though there were a few patchy moments, considering the spin on offer, the duo ensured that the absence of Shikhar Dhawan wasn’t felt.
After the defeat, Australian captain, Finch said,
We felt that if we posted a total of around 300-310, we could make inroads. But, we just didn't have enough partnerships. We are improving our games and it is not one individual's fault. We are still learning and playing against India in these conditions is a great learning curve.
Kohli, meanwhile, quipped,
We [Rohit and me] are quite experienced players and we talked about stringing together partnerships. We do have that belief in our skills and he anchored the innings till I had to take over. That's how we have played over the past few years and it was quite enjoyable batting with him again. More importantly, a comprehensive victory for the team. You need to have a clear and positive mind to play such shots and I am glad it worked out today. Coming back and winning the series is a wonderful achievement and we want to go upwards and onwards. It is probably the most satisfying series victory, especially after losing last time.