Khawaja, Cummins guide Oz to series win

Usman Khawaja’s continued form with the bat and a good show on the bowling front helped Australia turn the ODI series around. The Indian batting clearly faltered in the series decider as the highest partnership for the hosts came at the 7th wicket, between Kedar Jadhav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

Two wins for India, two wins for Australia – the ODI series was set for a perfect finale at Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi.

Heading into the last 50-over match before the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, the Men in Blue made two changes to the side: Ravindra Jadeja and Mohammed Shami coming in for KL Rahul and Yuzvendra Chahal. The Aussies, too, made as many changes as Marcus Stoinis and Nathan Lyon found their names in the playing XI.

Aaron Finch won the toss and opted to bat first, hopeful of posting a big total in the big series decider. After the off-day in Mohali, the Aussie skipper stepped up as he played second fiddle to the man in form Usman Khawaja. The southpaw carried forward his fine touch and momentum as he turned out to be a peril for the Indian bowlers right from the first over.

The pair brought up its third fifty-run stand of the series in the tenth over. The usually menacing Indian pacers were ineffective as the Aussie openers were piling on boundaries at will.

While the Indian Chinaman Kuldeep Yadav was getting a beating off the batsmen from one end, Jadeja made an immediate impact as he got the breakthrough for the hosts. A quick delivery that spun just enough beat Finch’s bat and shattered the stumps.

However, the coming in of Peter Handscomb only added more vigour to the Australian innings. The centurion from the previous game along with Khawaja spent nearly 20 overs in the middle, putting up a solid 99-run partnership. Khawaja proved to be the mainstay for the Aussies yet again, as he brought up his second ODI ton.

At 174/1 in 32 overs, the Kangaroos were cruising towards a big total. However, the hosts’ effort to curb the Australians was commendable. Khawaja, after his 106-ball 100, and Glenn Maxwell – after a very brief stay at the crease – were back to the pavilion in successive overs.

While Ashton Turner and Stoinis played short but handy knocks, India managed to push the Aussies on the backfoot. Jasprit Bumrah stood out among the bowlers as he conceded only 39 runs in his 10 overs. Along with his economical performance, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jadeja had a rewarding day with the ball today.

Courtesy of a late spurt of runs from Jhye Richardson, the visitors finished their innings at 272/9.

The Indian innings saw an early setback as Pat Cummins picked Shikhar Dhawan just when the opener was looking dangerous. While Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli were managing good runs for the hosts, Cummins continued to impress as his first five overs comprised of a wicket, a maiden and just 13 runs.

The two batsmen were looking as good in the middle as two players of their calibre would on any day. The pair stitched a 50-run stand and got India in a secure position – 66/1 in 12 overs. However, Stoinis came to Australia’s rescue as he bagged the prized wicket of the Indian captain, caught behind by Alex Carey.

Rohit Sharma was losing partners to build a concrete partnership with, as Rishabh Pant, Vijay Shankar and Jadeja fell for low scores. En route to his 41st half-century, the Hitman reached 8,000 ODI runs.

After 29 overs, placed at 132/6, India were in a deep pit, with nearly no hope. A surprising partnership came in the form of Kedar Jadhav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. With experience of death-over batting, Jadhav was putting up a valiant fight. Bhuvneshwar came to his aid as he added 46 invaluable runs to the Indian score. The 91-run stand between the two was a big positive for not just the Indian camp, but also the crowd in the national capital.

Two wickets by Cummins, Richardson and Stoinis, and three for Adam Zampa led to India bundling out for 237 runs. Australia showed commendable grit to win the ODI series coming from 2-0 to finishing 2-3.

India, having tried and tested various players and positions, will take a bag full of learnings from the series as they will now play their next ODI in England at the World Cup. Before that, the players will next be seen in action during the VIVO IPL 2019.