The VCA Stadium in Nagpur was the venue that hosted the final ODI of the series between India and Australia. The visitors managed to edge past the hosts in the last game but Virat Kohli and his men came back to their usual ruthlessness and enforced a thumping win to make it 4-1 in the series.
Finch-Warner’s steady start
Australian skipper Steve Smith won yet another toss and once more, opted to bat first. Just like the previous 2 games, the openers David Warner and Aaron Finch were at it again. Bhuvneshwar Kumar bowled some tight overs but Bumrah was targeted by the batsmen. The left hand-right hand combination worked well and the score reached 60 without loss after 10 overs.
Just when Finch was looking set for a big score, he was removed by Hardik Pandya for 32 in the 12th over. The Indian spinners then tightened the screws and put the brakes on the scoring. Warner brought up his fifty but the pitch was slow and shot-making was getting difficult increasingly.
Spinners tightened the screws
The golden-arm of Kedar Jadhav did the trick for India again as he trapped Smith in front for 16 in the 20th over. Warner too fell soon courtesy Axar Patel for 53 and the left-arm spinner bagged another in the form of Peter Handscomb as the visitors were pegged back for 118/4 in the 25th over. Travis Head and Marcus Stoinis then steadied the ship against the spinners and amidst all the slowness, batted sensibly.
The duo added 87 runs for the 5th wicket and put Australia in a situation from where a competitive score could have been achieved. But Axar struck again and accounted for the wicket of Head for 42 in the 43rd over as the score read 205/5. From then on, it was up to the death overs specialists – Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar.
Stoinis, who was beginning to open his arms, was sent back by Bumrah for 46. Matthew Wade too became a victim of Bumrah’s miserly bowling. The last over of the innings saw James Faulkner getting run out for 12 and Bhuvneshwar knocking over the stumps of Nathan Coulter-Nile. The Australians could muster 242/9 in 50 overs and once again, a collapse halted them well short of what they should have ended with.
The Rohit-Rahane show
India’s chase was yet again provided with a superb start by Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma. Where Rahane began with a couple of cracking shots, Rohit found it hard to open his account. Off the first 14 balls, he couldn’t score a run but got going with 2 lovely boundaries down the ground. The surface which looked like hard to score on during Australia’s innings, the Indian openers made batting look easy on it.
There were hardly any opportunities presented to the visitors as the 2 batsmen brought up their 3rd consecutive century partnership and also notched up their individual half-centuries as the score reached 111/0 after 20 overs. It was an absolute masterclass put up by two elegant right-handers that gave the capacity Nagpur crowd their money’s worth.
Australia finally drew first blood when Rahane was sent back by Coulter-Nile to an LBW for 61 off 74 balls in the 23rd over as a sublime partnership of 124 ended. Virat Kohli walked in to bat and started playing himself in but it was all about Rohit at the other end who kept striking classy boundaries at regular intervals.
Rohit brought up his 14th ODI hundred in style with a six to Coulter-Nile in the 35th over. The right-hander was in a slight discomfort and so, he decided to go for the big strokes with minimal running between the wickets. He struck a few lusty blows as India kept closing in on a victory. He lost his wicket while looking to clear the fence off Adam Zampa and departed for a brilliant 125 off 109 balls with 11 fours and 5 sixes.
Kohli tried to finish on a high but perished to the leg-spinner for 39 when India needed just 16 runs to win. Kedar Jadhav and Manish Pandey completed the formality and took the side past the line with 43 balls to spare. With the superlative victory, India regained the No.1 spot in the ICC ODI Rankings.
Australia won the toss and opted to bat first
Australia: 242/9 in 50 overs
David Warner 53, Marcus Stoinis 46
Axar Patel 38/3, Jasprit Bumrah 51/2
India: 243/3 in 42.5 overs
Rohit Sharma 125, Ajinkya Rahane 61
Adam Zampa 59/2, Nathan Coulter-Nile 42/1
India won by 7 wickets
Player of the Match: Rohit Sharma
Player of the Series: Hardik Pandya
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