Kohli ton in vain at Ranchi

Virat Kohli’s 41st ODI ton couldn’t see India across the line as Australia put up an all-round show to keep the series alive in Ranchi on Friday.

Australia took the field with a must-win situation to keep the series alive on International Women’s Day. The Indian team wore special camouflage caps as a tribute to the CRPF jawaans, martyred in Pulwama.

Virat Kohli won the toss for the first time in this series and had no hesitation in fielding first on a hot, sunny afternoon in Ranchi. India named an unchanged XI from their win in Nagpur while Australia had one change, Coulter-Nile went back home for the birth of his second child. Jhye Richardson was drafted back in the side ahead of Jason Behrendorff.

India lost their review 10 balls into the game when Bumrah appealed against Finch for an lbw dismissal. Replays suggested that the ball was going over the middle stump. Jadeja was introduced, as soon as, in the seventh over by the Indian captain. Dhawan dropped Khawaja very early in the innings and the Australian opener made sure that India toiled hard to get his wicket.

The visitors crossed the fifty run-mark in 10 overs. An eventful powerplay saw Australia survive a couple of LBW shouts and a dropped catch.

Nagpur’s 83-run stand was bettered in Ranchi. Finch and Khawaja got after Kedar Jadhav, bowling him out of the attack as the duo added 100-runs for the opening wicket.

Captain Aaron Finch got to his 50-run mark in the 17th over, his first half-century since the Perth Test last year. Australia raced to 116/0 in 18 overs including a few fielding lapses that helped their cause.

Khawaja completed his fifty in the 19th over and made sure that he did not throw his wicket away. At the halfway mark, Australia had accumulated 156 runs with India searching for options.

India needed a way to find a breakthrough which came in the form of Kuldeep Yadav. In the 32nd over, Finch was denied a century when Kuldeep broke the 193-run partnership trapping the Aussie captain for 93.

Usman Khawaja got to his maiden ODI hundred in 108 balls as Australia continued to dictate terms at Ranchi. Maxwell, who got a promotion at number three, came out all guns blazing and made sure that Finch’s departure did not disturb the momentum.

India struck back when Shami’s slower delivery foxed Khawaja. The centurion mistimed one straight to mid-wicket where Bumrah was waiting to pouch it with ease, putting an end to his masterclass.

Local boy MS Dhoni robbed Australia of a wicket with one of his cheeky run-outs, this time to see the back of Maxwell who was looking dangerous.

India controlled the scoring rate after the fall of Maxwell’s wicket, and in that pressure, Australia lost two wickets in the span of three deliveries to Kuldeep Yadav.

After the first wicket stand of 193 runs, Australia lost their next 5 for only 70 runs.

Stoinis and Carey stitched together a 50-run partnership for the sixth wicket in 38 balls helping the Kangaroos post a challenging 314 runs target for India.

India’s chase didn’t start according to plan as Dhawan and Rohit both were back in the dressing room in successive overs. Rohit looked in ominous touch after playing a squarish-drive to the fence and a straight, lofted six over Pat’s head for a maximum.

Before India could recover from the twin blows, Rayudu was outdone by a peach of a delivery from Cummins to leave India reeling at 27/3.

In walked, the crisis man, MS Dhoni in front of a jam-packed home crowd to a rousing reception with the intentions of repairing the Indian innings. He joined forces with the Indian captain in the middle to bail India out of early trouble.

With India trying to rebuild at 86/3, Adam Zampa got one past MS Dhoni to silence the crowd. India had Virat Kohli at the other end with Kedar Jadhav playing second fiddle at the other end.

At the half-way mark, India needed 191 runs from the remaining 25 overs with 6 wickets in hand as Kohli looked good for another big score. After crossing the half-century mark, Kohli stepped on the gas to take the chase deeper.

But Zampa, again, broke a partnership, when Kedar was trapped plumb in front in the 32nd over.

Virat Kohli, meanwhile, reached another three-figure milestone bring up his 41st century in ODIs and kept the crowd entertained by keeping India in the chase.

Zampa, for the third time on the night, had the last laugh when he got the prized wicket of India’s chase-master. Once Kohli was sent back, the Indian chase went haywire.

With 87 needed from the final 10 overs, it was down to India’s all-rounders Shankar and Jadeja to guide India home. Shankar was looking good with his timely blows but ended up hitting one straight to deep mid-wicket off Lyon in an attempt to keep up with the asking rate.

Jadeja’s struggle came to an end when he scooped a regulation catch to Maxwell. was waiting. Shami got a couple of boundaries but succumbed to a slower delivery and in the next over Kuldeep rested his gun as well.

Australia won by 32 runs to make the series 2-1 and spark some life in it. The 4th ODI will be played in Mohali on Sunday.