India were jolted with a 10-wicket defeat against Australia in Mumbai. But the Men in Blue came back to draw level in the second game in Rajkot. With all to play for in the decider, the hosts put forth their A-game at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru. Virat Kohli and Co went on to emerge victorious by seven wickets and also managed to win the three-match series 2-1.
Smith carries the Aussies
The Aussies didn’t make a great start as Mohammad Shami found David Warner’s outside-edge to send him packing. Then Aaron Finch was run out after a horrendous mix-up with Steve Smith. Marnus Labuschagne joined Smith and started the resurrection work. The duo put on 127 runs together to frustrate the hosts for 22.4 overs. Labuschagne got to his maiden ODI fifty off 60 balls.
Ravindra Jadeja separated the duo, getting rid of Marnus, who scored 54. Mitchell Starc, surprisingly, was promoted to five, but he bagged a duck, giving Jadeja his second wicket. Smith, at the other end, notched his ninth ton in the format off 117 balls. He perished after scoring 131 off 132 with 14 fours and a six. Mohammed Shami picked four wickets and the visitors crawled to 286 in 50 overs.
Rohit and Virat take India home
Shikhar Dhawan went for a scan after a shoulder injury. Hence, KL Rahul came to open along with Rohit Sharma. The pair put on 69 in 12.3 overs to kick-start India’s run-chase. It was Ashton Agar, who trapped Rahul in front for 19 and broke the partnership. Virat Kohli and Rohit, from there on, smothered the Aussie bowling to a 137-run stand. Rohit also completed 9000 runs in ODI cricket.
He notched his 29th ODI century off 110 balls and then got out to Adam Zampa after scoring 119 off eight fours and six sixes. Kohli brought up his 100th international fifty off 61 balls. He ended with 89 off 91 before Josh Hazlewood castled his woodwork. After a couple of poor outings, Shreyas Iyer found back his rhythm. He stayed unbeaten on 44 and helped his side win with 15 balls left.
Rohit Sharma, the Player of the Match, said
It was an important game, the decider, and we wanted to come out and enjoy ourselves. To keep that Australian batting under 290 was a great effort. Once KL got out, it needed nobody better than the captain himself. The talk we had in the middle was that one of us wanted to keep going. At no stage, did we want the momentum to go towards the opposition, I was middling the ball well, and I said I would be the one to take the chances.
Days like this, if it comes off, it looks good. If we had lost a wicket in the middle, it would have been different. Australia always comes up with a good bowling attack. Their fast bowlers always challenge you with their variety and skills. The first two games, I was trying to do something different, and it didn’t come off. Today I just wanted to be there, and I was able to stay till 35th, 36th over.
Virat Kohli, the Indian skipper, said
We’re quite experienced, Rohit and I, and we were short of Shikhar’s experience. We got a good start. We expect openers of the quality of Rohit and KL to give us starts like that. When KL got out it was a tricky situation. The ball was gripping and turning a bit, and this is where experience comes in.
We spoke of stringing together a partnership and all Australia want are wickets and if we don’t give them wickets we can chase 7-8 runs an over later on. We have that belief in our skill. Rohit played beautifully today, anchored the innings before I took over. It’s how we have played in the last 4-5 years.
It’s important to make sure one guy continues to bat till the end and takes us over the line. More important was the comprehensive win. It’s important to practice in the nets, but it’s important to be clear mentally and press forward. I’m not worried about the short ball, and trust my technique to take over, press forward, helping me to hit balls that are not there to hit.
I enjoyed that shot. If you’re not positive, then your feet don’t move towards the ball and you nick those, so it’s important to be positive. You need to have a clear and uncluttered mind. Australia were even better than last time. There’s Steve, David and Marnus.
A quality bowling attack, and really intense in the field too. We lost the last three in the last series, and coming back and winning the last two games after losing the first one, is very satisfying. We just want to go upwards and onwards. Getting one back given that we lost the series at home last year is really satisfying.
Aaron Finch, the Australian skipper, said
The wicket started to spin quite a bit. The quicks started sliding on a little bit at the end. If we had 310ish, then our spinners could put some pressure in the middle. Again, we just keep losing one wicket too many at every stage of the game. Our momentum gets stalled, but it’s a great learning curve to play against the best in the world in their conditions.
Agar bowled great lines and length, and he’s always on the stumps, so the batsman has to take risks of the good balls. You bowling at world-class players, but I thought we’d pitch a few overs of part-time spin, but that wasn’t to be.
Shreyas Iyer said
Obviously I have seen them bowling, but coming and playing against them is different. To be honest, as many matches I have played, they have been the best bowling attack. Performing against the best bowling attack gives you the satisfaction and confidence that you can go play anywhere. I had decided to stay till the end, take every blow as they decided to attack my body.
I had my plans and executed it well. They were trying to get into my head and wanted me to go over the top, but I said to myself that I will communicate with Virat and he told me to get set. I know if I am set I can play the big shots. So, the nudging and knocking helped me get into the innings.
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