Dettol ODI Series v India
Smith stars as Aussies smash, then soar to ODI series victory
Steve Smith and Glenn Maxwell starred, but a groin injury to David Warner overshadowed the 51-run win that completed a 2-0 series victory over India
Andrew Ramsey at the Sydney Cricket Ground
29 November 2020, 11:30 PM AEST
On the back of another sublime century from Steve Smith and a couple of classic catches, Australia comprehensively sealed the three-match Dettol ODI Series but might have sustained a sizeable blow for the Test campaign to follow.
The sight of Test opener David Warner hobbling from the field early in India's chase of Australia's imposing 50-over total of 4-389 with what appeared to be a serious groin injury will have tempered any celebrations as his teammates await an update on its severity.
India's concerns heading into the ODI series finale at Canberra on Wednesday – then the three-match Dettol T20I Series that precedes the Vodafone Tests starting December 17 – are essentially two-fold.
Firstly, they must unearth a means of stopping Smith who has taken his already exceptional game to a new level by scoring at a rate in excess of 160 per 100 balls faced in his two international outings so far this summer.
Secondly, and complementarily, they need one of their top-order batters to emulate the Australia maestro and turn solid starts into triple-figure scores.
In posting their second consecutive 300-plus run-chase – this time falling 51 runs short – India have produced 13 individual scores of 20 or more but are yet to celebrate a century.
They were set a target of 375 to win on Friday night, and despite posting their second-highest ODI run chase at the SCG they finished 66 runs adrift.
Tonight they faced a mountain scaled only twice previously in almost 50 years of 50-over men's cricket, and never in Australia.
Indeed, India's highest successful ODI run chase anywhere on the planet came at Jaipur in the dizzyingly high-scoring 2013 series when Kohli's unbeaten century off 52 balls carried them to a remarkable 1-362 off just 43.3 overs.
The memory of that game would have remained strong for the India skipper, though he might not have harboured such fond recollections of the SCG where he averaged just 9.5 from his previous six ODI knocks with a best effort of 21 last Friday night.
But he strode to the crease shortly after 7.30pm tonight, with a cool south-easterly having doused the day's earlier scorching heat, carrying a reputation as the greatest second-innings batter the 50-over game has known, averaging almost 70 in run chases for his country.
By that stage of the game, Australia had already suffered a significant blow with Warner sent to hospital for scans on the adductor muscle he damaged in performing a tumbling save at mid-off in the innings' fourth over.
The loss of openers Shikhar Dhawan (30 off 23) and Mayank Agarwal (28 off 26) dulled India's early onslaught, but while Kohli remained at the wicket there was a sense no target was too lofty.
That was apparent when he miscued a pull shot from the bowling of Pat Cummins that soared into the crowd, only compounding Australia's joy when he was adjudged lbw next delivery with just 11 to his name.
No sooner had umpire Paul Reiffel's finger been raised than Kohli had called for a review, his surety he had edged the ball onto his pad vindicated by technology.
From then on, he played hardly a false stroke and it took two moments of brilliance from Australia in the field to hobble his team and curtail his brilliance.
The first came from the irrepressible Smith, who threw himself goalkeeper-style to his right at mid-wicket, hanging parallel to the turf to hold an airborne pull shot from Shreyas Iyer (38 from 36) who had combined for a 93-run stand with Kohli.
The next was near identical in execution but carried even greater gravity, as Moises Henriques – playing his first ODI for more than three years – launched to his left to cleanly intercept a cross-bat shot Kohli had rifled through the leg side.
His departure for 89 from 87 balls faced left India needing 165 from their final 15 overs, with K.L. Rahul and Hardik Pandya (top scorer in Friday night's failed chase) the last specialists batting and, seemingly, India's final hope.
But Rahul's departure for 76 as he tried to blaze a boundary from every delivery, and Pandya's inability to lay bat on a series of balls from Cummins meant the target was never seriously in peril.
It was possible the day's most decisive blow was landed half an hour before the first ball was bowled.
With a foul nor-westerly howling across the SCG and temperatures around the city peaking above 40C, Kohli's frustration was palpable when his team was condemned to the field.
With no change to their starting XI – Australia's sole alteration from Friday's win was allrounder Henriques replacing injured Marcus Stoinis – India were relying on an improved bowling effort to avoid a repeat of two days earlier.
But despite Jasprit Bumrah beginning with a maiden, the tourists' bowling innings quickly started to follow a familiar pattern as Warner and Finch assuredly turned a solid start into a formidable foundation.
Where skipper Aaron Finch was the pacesetter on Friday, Warner took the front-running and scored 37 of the pair's first 50 runs.
By the time they posted their 12th century partnership in ODIs – with only Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden's 16 hundred opening stands ahead of them for Australia – Finch had picked up the pace and another daunting total loomed.
He was slowed temporarily when taken unawares by a waist-high full toss from Navdeep Saini – teammates in this year's Indian Premier League - that left him doubled up, as much in shock as pain with India keeper Rahul offering some not-so-expert medical help.
It was against the run of play therefore when Finch fell for 60, his attempt to flick Mohammed Shami through the leg side finding a leading edge that landed with Kohli at extra cover.
But his departure only heightened Warner's urgency, which brought about a second unexpected breakthrough three overs later when the opener squandered what seemed an almost certain century in his quest for an extra run.
Scampering for a single after Smith knocked spinner Ravi Jadeja to long-on, Warner instantly saw a second but his usually impeccable dive for the crease line was thwarted by a direct hit from Shreyas Iyer and his innings ended at 83 from 77 balls.
His night then finished less than four overs into India's chase, and his immediate playing future rests on the result of scans taken this evening.
The dual setback did not hamper Australia's progress, as batting buddies Smith and Marnus Labuschagne were united for the first meaningful time this summer.
Whereas Smith's innings last Friday seemed to involve significantly more muscle, today's was a study in style as he manipulated the ball through rather than over the field using unorthodox bat-face angles and incomparable timing.
The 31-year-old targeted Jadeja who had been India's most economical bowler among the runs flurry (his first seven overs costing 29 runs) hitting the left-armer for four through cover and then six over midwicket before taking consecutive boundaries from the next over of Saini's.
Smith's half-century arrived soon after, as did his 100-run stand with Labuschagne as the pair pushed Australia beyond 250 heading into the final 10 overs of their innings.
That's when the former Australia captain really got going.
Using deft touch and only the occasional flourish of brute force, Smith surged from 70 to a century in 13 deliveries that yielded four boundaries and a six to equal his benchmark from Friday night where his 62-ball century was the third-fastest in Australia batter in ODIs.
He would have bettered it by one ball had Labuschagne not lost his footing when turning for a second run when Smith was on 99.
And the milestone only heightened the audacity of Smith's strokeplay, as he launched an extraordinary falling-down ramp shot to send a Hardik Pandya delivery from way outside off-stump to the fine-leg fence.
His next trick, the toppling-over late cut, brought his demise for 104 (off 64 balls) which allowed Labuschagne and Glenn Maxwell to share the spotlight for most of the final 52 deliveries of the innings which brought 97 runs.
Labuschagne finished with 70 from 61 while Maxwell followed his blazing cameo from Friday with an even more incandescent effort, 63 not out from just 29 deliveries laced with four sixes and as many boundaries as he stood and swung like a baseball slugger.
With five scores of 50-plus in their 4-389, Australia equalled a record for most such milestones in an ODI innings which also came against India, at that game in Jaipur as part of the run-glut series of 2013.
And for the second time in as many matches, India occasionally raised hopes they were up to the huge challenge before once again ending well short.
Australia XI: Aaron Finch (c), David Warner, Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne, Moises Henriques, Glenn Maxwell, Alex Carey (wk), Pat Cummins, Mitch Starc, Adam Zampa, Josh Hazlewood #AUSvIND— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) November 29, 2020
India XI: Shikhar Dhawan, Mayank Agarwal, Virat Kohli (c), Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul (wk), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Yuzvendra Chahal, Navdeep Saini, Jasprit Bumrah #AUSvIND— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) November 29, 2020
Dettol ODI Series v India 2020
Australia ODI squad: Aaron Finch (c), Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Alex Carey , Pat Cummins (vc), Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Moises Henriques, Marnus Labuschagne, Glenn Maxwell, Daniel Sams, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Andrew Tye, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa
India ODI squad: Virat Kohli (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Shubman Gill, KL Rahul (wk), Sanju Samson (wk), Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Mayank Agarwal, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Navdeep Saini, Shardul Thakur.
First ODI: Australia won by 66 runs
Second ODI: November 29, SCG, 2.40pm AEDT
Third ODI: December 2, Manuka Oval, 2.40pm AEDT
*The matches and travel remain subject to any relevant government restrictions or requirements