Australia end away drought in high-scoring affair

Finally, after more than a year, Australia can lift their heads high with their first ODI victory away from home. It’s been a long time coming but Australia have regained their lost honour in a cracker of a match that saw both sides giving it their all. Hosts India chased hard but fell 21 runs short at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru on Thursday.

Aussie captain Steven Smith won the toss and opted to bat first. It was an interesting decision, considering the rain and the DLS factor which could come into play later. Two changes were made to the visitors’ line-up, injured Ashton Agar replaced by Adam Zampa and Matthew Wade coming in for Glenn Maxwell. Hosts India made three changes to their side, resting Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah and Kuldeep Yadav in favour of Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav and Axar Patel.

David Warner, who was playing his 100th ODI, got off to a promising start along with Aaron Finch. The openers added 50-plus for the first wicket and looked all set. As time passed, the pair kept getting better and better, pulling off some dominating shots. The southpaw looked the more threatening of the two with Aaron Finch playing second fiddle. Warner built his innings to near perfection as he crossed the 50-run mark, dealing in boundaries and punishing the Indian bowlers.

Australia looked more threatening when Aaron Finch started to up the ante as well. David Warner made his milestone game even more memorable as he scored his 14th ODI ton and thus became the first Australian batsman to score a ton in his 100th ODI match.

At this stage, Warner was tonking huge sixes off his bat to send the ball was travelling at a quicker rate to the boundary rope. Aaron Finch looked all set to score back-to-back tons, too. India were in desperate need of a breakthrough and it came in the form of David Warner’s dismissal. The opener tried to hit another maximum but holed out to long on, giving away his wicket to Kedar Jadhav – the partnership breaker. Finch missed out on his ton soon enough, and Australia had lost its first two quick wickets. Steven Smith was dismissed for a cheap score and suddenly India were back in the game.

Travis Head’s slow knock didn’t help Australia’s cause and the visitors slowed down a bit. Eventually, a quick 43 off 30 balls by Peter Handscomb helped Australia reach 334/5 after 50 overs. Umesh Yadav picked up 4 wickets to become the destroyer-in-chief for Team India. At one stage, Australia looked all set for a 360-plus total but they managed 334 only on a wicket which looked a belter.

India were off to a superb start once more as Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane laid a perfect platform for the run chase. The duo added 50-plus runs for the opening wicket which was just what India required. Australia suffered another blow when Marcus Stoinis pulled out in his run-up and went off the field. The opening pair converted it to another 100-plus stand with both reaching their fifties. Just after the drinks break, Rahane holed out to long on, giving away his wicket to Kane Richardson. Then, there was a tough chance which was put down by Travis Head when Virat Kohli punched one back to the bowler.

A mix-up between Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli ensued, courtesy a brilliant stop by Steven Smith. Kohli played it towards point where the Australian skipper dived to his left to stop the ball. By then, Rohit had already reached the striker’s end to which Kohli returned as well. Handscomb collected it and simply had to throw at the non-striker’s end where there was no batsman and Rohit Sharma had to walk back after his fifty. Hardik Pandya’s shoulders were weighed down with responsibilities on his shoulders yet again and a partnership was the need of the hour for the hosts. Stepping up, Pandya and Kedar Jadhav stitched a fruitful stand and Team India were right back on track to chase down the total.

Sixes flew off Pandya’s bat at a consistent rate and Australia started to fall behind. It was a terrific partnership but Pandya got out at a crucial juncture, miscued it to Zampa when he tried to hit another six. Manish Pandey arrived quickly followed by rain showers. During the rain break, India were two runs behind. The match resumed quickly and Pandey and Jadhav got the odd boundaries to keep the hosts in front. India required 53 runs from the last 5 overs and a cracking finish was on the cards, with MS Dhoni still to bat. Australia bowled extremely well though and held their nerve. Kane Richardson delivering a superb over towards the death as he bowled all six slower ones that saw Dhoni succumb under pressure.

Eventually, India fell short by 21 runs and it brought an end to their winning streak. It was Australia’s first away win in ODIs after 14 ODIs. There will be happy faces in the Aussie camp and they will look to repeat their performance in the final ODI on Sunday in Nagpur. Meanwhile, India would look to come back strongly and return to their winning ways.


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