After returning from the Sri Lankan tour, the talk of the town was how India was going to face a tougher opposition and how the series will be competitive. The Australians were expected to be fierce and even though the hosts were the favorites to win, who would have thought that India would seal the series in the 3rd match itself?
The Holkar Stadium in Indore was the venue for the 3rd ODI. India had a tremendous record at the venue as they had won all the 4 previous games there. The city, famous for food, was treated to a clinical performance from Virat Kohli and his men. India proved to be too good for the Aussies yet again and clinched the series with 2 games in hand and also made the No.1 ODI rank their own.
Earlier, Australian skipper Steve Smith, for the first time in the series, won the toss and elected to bat first on a surface that promised plenty of runs. Aaron Finch, playing his first game on the tour, began well alongside David Warner. The Indian seamers bowled some tight lines but the batsmen were cautious at the start and ensured no early wickets and took the score to 49 after 10 overs.
Finch’s merry return
Warner was shaping up for a big knock but he was foxed by Hardik Pandya’s cutter as it cannoned onto his stumps. The left-hander had to walk back for 42 from 44 as the partnership ended for 70 in the 14th over. Smith didn’t waste much time in hitting his stripes and played the perfect foil for Finch who was flourishing at the other end as the score reached 102/1 after 20 overs.
Finch brought up his fifty in the 21st over and pretty soon, began to open his arms. At 171/1 after 30 overs, the visitors looked well set to end up close to 350 as the century partnership came up between the duo. Finch reached his 8th ODI century in the 33rd over and was looking ominous as he smashed some lusty blows.
Smith also got to his fifty soon and at 221/1 after 37 overs, the Indians were preparing themselves for a huge chase. Kuldeep Yadav, who was taken for plenty earlier, made a good comeback and sent Finch back for 124 that included 12 fours and 5 sixes. Finch’s dismissal triggered another collapse, something that has been a feature of all Australian innings on the tour so far.
Another collapse for the visitors
Kuldeep removed Smith for 63 in the 42nd and Yuzvendra Chahal accounted for the wicket of Glenn Maxwell for the 3rd time in the series. India’s death bowlers pulled things back and the innings that looked like reaching the skies was halted on the floor. Jasprit Bumrah castled Travis Head in the 46th over and then dismissed Peter Handscomb 2 overs later.
Australia was restricted to 293/6 at the end of 50 overs. A solid platform was wasted as they fell 50 runs short of where they were headed. The credit must go to the 2 wrist spinners who kept their nerves and picked up the crucial wickets. Bumrah once again did what he does best and ensured the innings didn’t have a strong finish.
The Mumbaikars’ show
India’s 2 openers Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma were all over the Australian bowlers from the outset. Initially, Rohit went on the rampage and struck some classy boundaries to please the capacity crowd at the Holkar Stadium. One of his sixes to Kane Richardson went outside the park for a massive 103m hit. Rahane too joined on the onslaught as India’s score was raced off to 68 after 10 overs.
Rohit got to his 33rd ODI fifty with a six over long-on to Ashton Agar in the 13th over. The 100-run stand was brought up in the 15th over and Rahane too got to his 21st ODI half-century in the 18th over. The openers laid the perfect platform to chase down the big score and a massive partnership of 139 ended after Rohit’s departure for 71 in the 22nd over courtesy Nathan Coulter-Nile.
Two overs later, Rahane too had to walk back for 70 as he was trapped in front by Pat Cummins. Surprisingly, Pandya walked in to bat at No.4 who smacked a 6 to Agar off just the 4th delivery he faced. Virat Kohli and Pandya added 56 runs for the 4th wicket before Kohli fell to Agar for 28 while trying to clear the long-off fence.
Pandya fulfilling a new role
Kedar Jadhav, who came in at No.5, departed very soon for 2 off Richardson’s bowling and all of a sudden, the hosts were in a slight spot of bother at 206/4 after 35.2 overs. Finally, Manish Pandey came out to the middle but it was Pandya who kept punishing Agar with a few sixes and got to his fifty off 45 balls in the 39th over.
The task at hand was completed surgically by Pandya and Pandey as they took the side close to the target without too much fuss. Pandya got out for 78 off 72 balls when just 10 runs were required. MS Dhoni had to walk in at the dying stages of the match who finished unbeaten at 3 whereas Pandey scored 36 not out. India won the match by 5 wickets with 13 balls in hand to gain an unassailable lead of 3-0 in the series.
Australia won the toss and opted to bat first
Australia: 293/6 in 50 overs
Aaron Finch 124, Steve Smith 63
Jasprit Bumrah 52/2, Kuldeep Yadav 75/2
India: 294/5 in 47.5 overs
Hardik Pandya 78, Rohit Sharma 71
Pat Cummins 54/2, Kane Richardson 45/1
India won by 5 wickets
Player of the Match: Hardik Pandya