In­dia win de­cider, clinch ODI se­ries against Australia 2-1

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INDIAVS AUSTRALIA THIRD ODI

Ben­galuru, In­dia - With­out their all­rounder go­ing into the se­ries, los­ing their in-form open­ing bats­man to in­jury dur­ing the se­ries de­cider, In­dia found a way to win the three-match ODI se­ries against Australia de­spite los­ing all three tosses.

Australia's de­ci­sion to bat first left Vi­rat Kohli smil­ing ear to ear, his bowlers only widened that smile by keep­ing Australia down to 286 de­spite a Steven Smith cen­tury (131). Dur­ing the chase, Ro­hit Sharma (119) scored a spe­cial ton to negate the chal­lenge.

In the fi­nal equa­tion, on a pitch that spin­ners from both sides were a threat, the two main quicks from ei­ther side proved to be the dif­fer­ence. Jasprit Bum­rah was stel­lar in con­ced­ing just 38 in his ten overs, and Mo­hammed Shami took wick­ets with the new ball and old.

Pat Cum­mins and Mitchell Starc, though, were a big let­down for Australia, con­ced­ing 130 runs in 16 wick­t­less overs be­tween them, which meant when the spin­ners and Josh Ha­zle­wood bowled well, Ro­hit and Kohli (89) were not un­der any ask­ingrate pres­sure.

Shami dealt the vis­i­tors a big blow in the first ex­changes de­spite a way­ward - eight wides in first three overs - by both of In­dia's open­ing bowlers. In the fourth over, Shami got the ball to shape up to swing back into David Warner, but leave him upon pitch­ing, tak­ing the edge.

In the ninth over, Aaron Finch went for per­haps a highly risky sin­gle to Jadeja at point, but Smith was the big­ger cul­prit in not trust­ing the call from the non-striker. The run-out left Finch fu­ri­ous, and Smith with a big task of shep­herd­ing the sus­pect mid­dle or­der. Ex­cept that he was met in the mid­dle by his clone Mar­nus Labuschagn­e.

Smith and Labuschagn­e pulled Australia out of that cri­sis, tak­ing them into the last 20 overs with eight wick­ets in hand. This time Labuschagn­e reached his maiden half-cen­tury too. How­ever, just like the last match, Ravin­dra Jadeja had be­gun to frus­trate the bats­men with tight overs. In part­ner­ship with Kuldeep Ya­dav and Shami, he strung to­gether 45 balls with­out a bound­ary. Then he had Kohli help­ing him in the 32nd over.

At a close ex­tra cover, Kohli made an ex­cel­lent div­ing save to his left to deny Labuschagn­e a bound­ary first ball. To the third ball, he dived to his right to dis­miss Labuschagn­e af­ter a maiden fifty. An ex­per­i­ment to pinch-hit with Mitchell Starc lasted three balls.

If Starc's dis­missal was a sign the pitch was not the usual flat Bangalore sur­face, Smith's fail­ure to place the ball in the com­ing overs only re­in­forced it. A mix of ortho­dox and re­verse sweeps from Alex Carey gave Australia some mo­men­tum in a run-a-ball 58-run part­ner­ship, but the mo­ment Carey tried to hit a six even he ended up mis­cu­ing Kuldeep to deep cover.

Smith threat­ened a fi­nal kick with 25 off eight de­liv­er­ies, but Shami not only had him caught at deep mid­wicket, he also en­sured there was no an­noy­ing cameo from the tail.

It was ob­vi­ous fairly early this was not go­ing to be an easy chase. Not of­ten in ODI cricket do you see two fairly close lbw ap­peals, three plays and misses and one edge fall­ing short against Ro­hit in the first ten overs. Also just as rare is Ro­hit tak­ing ex­tra risks and scor­ing 41 runs in those ten overs.

Dhawan's in­jury while field­ing meant Lokesh Rahul was open­ing with Ro­hit af­ter hav­ing kept for 50 overs. Ro­hit, though, backed him­self and knew he couldn't let In­dia fall be­hind the game by the time spin came on.

So when Ash­ton Agar, Adam Zampa and Ha­zle­wood put the squeeze on, tak­ing Rahul's wicket and con­ced­ing 35 in the next ten overs, In­dia could sit back and ab­sorb that pres­sure.

And when pres­sure was built, Finch didn't go to his main bowlers to go find the break­through.

He gam­bled. First with Labuschagn­e, then with him­self. Twenty runs in two overs. Pres­sure off. And when Finch fi­nally brought his main bowlers, they re­leased the pres­sure fur­ther.

Ro­hit kept tak­ing cal­cu­lat­ing risks, hit­ting six sixes in his in­nings, reach­ing his hun­dred with In­dia's score only 154. When he did per­ish, he did so try­ing to put the chase beyond doubt, look­ing to hit his sev­enth six.

It left In­dia 81 to get in 80 balls, and if there were any nerves with a short­ened bat­ting line-up, the king of chases was there to soothe them. In Kohli's com­pany, Shreyas Iyer too made a mini come­back from a mini slump. Kohli missed out on a cen­tury, but by the time he fell for 89 In­dia needed just 13 from 25.

Ro­hit Sharma

Steven Smith

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