Clinical India seal the series

The 3rd ODI of the 5-match series was a make-or-break affair for Australia. With the scoreline reading 2-0 in favour of hosts India, the Aussies knew they had to do their best. Off to a swimming start, India did well to bring them under control and win the match by 5 wickets, much to the delight of a brimming Indore crowd.

Virat Kohli lost the toss for the first time in this series as Steven Smith called it right and opted to bat first. The Aussies made two changes to the side with Aaron Finch and Peter Handscomb replacing Hilton Cartwright and Matthew Wade respectively, whereas India remained unchanged.

The opening pair of Aaron Finch and David Warner gave Australia a promising start, dealing with the Indian pacers early on with sensible, risk-free cricket. The duo added 50-plus runs for the opening wicket and looked in good touch on a deck which was good to bat on. Aaron Finch was cautious in his approach but Warner looked increasingly dangerous as his innings progressed. However, Hardik Pandya got the much-needed breakthrough for Team India when Warner didn’t pick the all-rounder’s off-cutter and was bowled.

Despite it being his ODI return, Aaron Finch looked fluent as he brought up his fifty. He tackled the spinners extremely well, adding a fifty-run stand with skipper Steven Smith. Building up on their solid foundation, the duo started to accelerate and deal in boundaries frequently. The run rate started to rise and a 100-run stand was brought up. Aaron Finch converted his fifty into a superb century, his first in Asia. Things appeared to be going south for India as Finch and Smith continued to tonk the bowlers. The wonderful stand with Finch continued with Steven Smith swiftly bringing up his fifty.

The partnership was eventually broken by Kuldeep Yadav when Finch holed one out to deep mid-wicket. India heaved a sigh of relief to see the back of the man dealing in boundaries and looked to made a strong comeback. Fortunately for them, the bowlers managed to do so. Steven Smith followed Finch and then Maxwell got out for a cheap score. Chahal and Kuldeep were turning it around for India until Australia suddenly had two new players at the crease. The visitors failed to score freely towards the end as India bowled extremely well. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah made things difficult for the Australian batsmen. The latter got his name in the wickets’ column when he dismissed Travis Head with a cutter.

Manish Pandey took a blinder to dismiss Peter Handscomb towards the end. The Indian fielder, manning the long off region had his eyes on the ball, collected it and realized he was losing his balance over the ropes. Thinking quick, he threw the ball up in the air and quickly came back inside the ropes to complete a marvelous catch. India made sure the Aussies didn’t cross the 300-run mark in the end and restricted them to 293/6. It was a fine performance with the ball in the death overs by India.

All India needed a solid start at the top and Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane did just that for them. The pair were off to a flying start with runs flowing thick and fast from Rohit’s bat as he dealt in boundaries. He brought up his fastest ODI fifty, hitting a couple of lusty blows and a six went out of the ground and still looked hungry for more runs. He holds the record now for hitting the most number of sixes against Australia in international cricket, going past Brendon McCullum’s record. Ajinkya Rahane didn’t fall far behind, bringing up his fifty as well and India appeared to be cruising. There was a prolonged chance off Rohit which was put down by Maxwell at point but the second chance which was dropped by Handscomb, should have been taken. Rohit was riding on his luck and the Australian bowlers didn’t have any answers to stop the run-flow.

It was also the first time since Nagpur 2013 where both the Indian openers scored a fifty in an ODI run chase. Rohit’s excellent knock came to an end when he tried to pull one to the leg side. The ball took a top edge and the substitute fielder took a safe catch in the deep. Ajinkya Rahane got out after his fifty as well when Pat Cummins trapped him in front, leg before wicket. India had lost both batsmen in quick succession and had two new batsmen at the crease. Hardik Pandya was sent up the order, and he started doing what he does the best, hitting a couple of sixes to keep the momentum going in India’s favour. Virat Kohli got off to a promising start but failed to make the most of it when he hit one straight to Finch at long off who took a safe catch. Kedar Jadhav got out for a cheap score and Australia began to sense a collapse. It was Hardik Pandya who rode on his luck and kept hitting sixes and the odd boundary to keep India on par.

Manish Pandey and Hardik Pandya stitched a 50-plus stand between them and took India closer to the win. Showing great maturity in his knock, Hardik smashed a fine fifty but was unfortunately dismissed when India were a few run away from victory. India completed the proceedings and sealed the 5-match ODI series with a 5-wicket victory. It was a clinical performance by the hosts who ticked off all the boxes and showed their authority in this format.

Another sorry outing for the visitors, who’s batting didn’t click towards the end to leave them a few runs short. India will look to go for the whitewash now whereas Australia will be looking to script an inspirational comeback. The 4th ODI will be played on 28th September in Bengaluru at the same time. Will the Aussies fight back then? It remains to be seen.

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